Press Conference – Diane Kruger, Christoph Waltz and Lawrence Bender
1. What convinced Quentin Tarantino that you were his Landa? Did he seem desperate in his search?
Christoph Waltz: He was so cool! My initial response to that question, is every casting process ends with the part being cast, so about the desperation, I don’t know. When Lawrence tells me or Quentin tells me I’m deeply honoured, I didn’t feel any desperation. He was very polite and civilised and a gentleman.
Lawrence Bender: Can I just say, as this guy is so humble, we flew down to Berlin and on our first day of casting we cast Daniel Brühl and Til Schweiger, I thought great, day one and we cast two great actors. But Quent was a bit off, I put it down to his inner space. Literally in the morning, at seven or eight o’clock he called myself and the others down and he was really serious and he said ‘I may have written a role that can’t be cast or played, I’m really worried and I may just have to publish the screenplay and shut everything down because not only do we have to find a great actor but we need a linguistics genius just like the character in the movie,’ and I looked at him and said if we spend one more week casting it’s going to cost x amount of money, at this point Quentin was bank rolling the movie, what we’ll do is concentrate on this one role, this one character, if we can’t find him after a week, we’ll pick up sticks and go home, that kinda gave us some breathing room, in came Christoph and read with Quentin first in English, then French, then German and a little Italian and Quentin and I looked at each other, when Christoph finished he said thank you it’s such an honour to meet you and to read for you Mr. Tarantino.
He left and Quentin and I highfived each other.
This guy (Christoph) saved the movie.
2. At what point in reading the script did you realise it wasn’t what it appeared to be and was actually a factious piece of history?
Diane Kruger: Oh I think it’s pretty clear from the opening page ‘once upon a time’, I never expected a World War Two movie done by Quentin to be a classic thought movie.
The truth is, being German, I get offered a World War Two piece every other week, which I never wanted to do because I didn’t want to be associated with just because I was German and that part of my countrys history.
This came along and there are very few times when you read a script and say ‘he wrote this for me’ which wasn’t the case at all, but I really felt I was born to play this role.
3. Can you tell us about your experience being put through the physical mill more than any other role you’ve had?
Diane Kruger: I loved it, for once you get a director that loves women for what they can do, the roles I’ve been getting, especially in America have been Queens or object put on a pedestal. Quentin, just loves women, you know they’re fierce, they’re a lot smarter than anyone else in the movie quite frankly and love treating the Basterds like they’re complete morons so I didn’t find that I was being tortured by Brad I actually felt like I was taking it like a man. Then the scene with Christoph was terrifying, he’ll sit here all sweet but he can have a terrifying look in his eyes at times and it really threw me off, little known fact that when I was being strangled it’s actually Quentin, it just says alot about him as a director, he’s so into it, he lives every single character, he’s right there.
Lawrence Bender: That’s how he is when he’s writting, he’ll call you up and say do you wanna hear some of the script, and he never gives you pages ofcourse so its ‘Tarantino Theatre’ he’ll read you one or two or three scenes and he plays every single part, it’s quite wonderful, because he is every single part.
Diane Kruger: At the audition he playerd Brad with the accent and everything.
4. Are there any redeeming qualities to Landa, and what attracted you to such a hideous man?
Christoph Waltz: This is what you say, this is not what I say, I leave my moral judgement in the cloakroom and I look at it without my ethical preoccupations, an if you asked Landa if he thought of himself as an evil character, I’m one hundred per cent sure that he wouldn’t understand the question.
Coming from your point of view I understand what you say, my point of view is totally different.
5.Could you see anything in him that others could respect?
Christoph Waltz: Well yes of course apart from this very first thing, and destroying beauty, there isn’t much that hints at vicious or violence, he has his own agenda.
This movie is so great, that you are being called upon to employ your moral faculties.
6. Was there ever a thought to do the movie using accents rather than languages and subtitles?
Lawrence Bender: I can tell you one hundred per cent it was never a thought to do it in English with accents. He (Quentin) understands the dialog, he doesn’t speak German, he will be able to direct you in that language. It’s quite extraordinary, non of us could quite do it.
One of Quentins main attributes is authenticity, in terms of the authenticity of the characters, if you go back as far as ‘Reservoir Dogs’ there was a code amongst those guys and they were one hundred per cent stuck to it, and I think in all his characters, they have an authenticity.
The idea of a German speaking person speaking English just doesn’t make sense, obviously and ontop of that language comes into play via the movie, so no it was one hundred per cent how we thought about it in the beginning.
7. Quentin likes to write himself parts in his movies, did he ever consider writing a part for himself in this movie?
Lawrence Bender: He never thought about putting himself in this movie, as far as I know.
8.You wear some amazing outfits in the film, can you talk about the costume design process and any favourite outfits you wore?
Diane Kruger: Well Anna Sheppard who done the costume design, is infinite and obviously very talented, it’s a pleasure to wear and so flattering to women, that period is just beautiful, but I have to tell you that nothing is more fun than being in that skirt and getting all dirtied up.
9. What makes Quentin so different to other directors you’ve worked with?
Christoph Waltz: He doesn’t infringe upon your choice, he manages to direct in the true sense of the word, he directs you making the right choice. He creates this flow and thats why the casting was already part of the process, and that flow hasn’t stopped to this day.
He manages to keep that flow going, and all you have to do is trust, it sounds a bit cliche, maybe a bit esoteric, but it isn’t, he’s very hands on. Michelangelo once said sculpting is easy; everything that isn’t a sculpture you chip away from the block, and that in a way is what Quentin does, you end up finding yourself as part of the sculpture without knowing how it happened, he directs and he leads and all you have to do is follow and that’s the beauty of the process.
Diane Kruger: I think one of the major differences is that I’ve never worked with a director who is basically a movie library, so he bombards you with movie references, characters he was inspired by and then lets you bring it to film, I must of seen twenty films that he wanted me to see. Women that he was inspired by, and he lets that percolate and lets you make it your own. I actually would say he’s the most precise director also, as he’s very attached to his writing he makes you say every word, which was new for me, a lot of directors let you go on and approximate what’s there.
His writing, especially in English is a challenge cause it’s very nuanced and very much between the lines, everytime you read it, you discover something else and also he doesn’t let you get away with anything, he’s a director that sits next to cameras, no monitors, there’s nobody on set that doesn’t need to be, there’s no video village, there’s no safety net, he sits there and stares at you, which is very unsettling at first, at least for me. We had to break scenes a couple of times because he was laughing so loud and he didn’t realise. He takes such joy on seeing and hearing his character come to life, he gives you wings.
10. There’s a pivotal scene in the movie with Mike Myers who audiences identify him for his comic roles, was it a concern of yours when bringing him onboard?
Lawrence Bender: The simple answer is no, that scene between Mike Myers and Michael Fassbender is just fantastic. Michael Fassbender flew himself in to Berlin from London and he was just a powerhouse, he was phenomenal, to watch an actor take control of a room and just knock it out. With Mike Myers, I think was just such a fan of Quentins, and he would do anything for Quentin, and Quentin really respects actors and they all know that. it wasn’t a concern for us.
11. Your character’s an actress and a bit of a Diva, have you ever used your status to get your own way?
Diane Kruger: I wish I could! No, that doesn’t really work in the modern times anymore I don’t think.
Lawrence Bender: She’s such a Diva on set.
Christoph Waltz: That’s why I killed her.
Diane Kruger: No, I don’t think I could get away with that.
12. Was it a thrill for you to be working with the history of German Cinema, as an Austria born actor?
Christoph Waltz: The history is interesting, and the history is present at Babblesberg, not just this exotic, interesting and somewhat decorative aspect of this era, but also that there was this forty years of East German horrible propaganda. Not only were some of the movies to come out of there fantastic by all means, so there’s more history attached to this location than just that inglorious era.
Apart from that and the trill of knowing where Gerbers’ office was, what am I doing with that on the set… nothing.
13. You’ve worked with Tarantino forever, did you ever despair that the movie wouldn’t get made?
Lawrence Bender: I must say that when he called me on July third, I had no idea that he was going to be finished with the script, he over the years was writing it and I was like oh great, and when I saw him on his birthday in Las Vegas, at five am after a couple of drinks, he was telling me he was writing it. When he called me and left a message it was ‘hey Lawrence, I’ve finished the script, I wanna send it to you’ I was like What? It was quite thrilling and I was quite surprised, so it was a big surprise and we took off pretty quickly after that.