Quentin Tarantino has revealed that Christoph Waltz didn't take part in Inglourious Basterds rehearsals with the rest of the cast – so his portrayal of Hans Landa would be more of a surprise.
Tarantino explained to The Moment podcast (H/T IndieWire) that the non-German actors of the cast were unfamiliar with Waltz, and Tarantino told the actor that he wanted him to "hold a lot back" in the script reading, because he didn't want the cast to think they had an insight into his performance. "On a scale of one to 10, give me six," the director recalled telling Waltz. "Be good enough, just good enough. And that's going to be hard, I don't want you to get into a competition with anybody, if you get into a competition with somebody I want you to lose. I don't want them to know what you have, and I don't want them to have a handle on Landa."
As for not rehearsing with the cast during the rehearsal period, Tarantino explained his reasoning: "I don't think I want Diane Kruger, I don't think I want Brad [Pitt], I don't think I want them to know your gun-slinging abilities until the cameras are rolling." The one exception was Denis Ménochet, who played the French farmer Perrier LaPadite in the film's tense opening scene, which Tarantino described as "a little one act play unto itself."
While Waltz agreed with both plans, he did still want to rehearse his scenes before the cameras rolled – so Waltz and Tarantino rehearsed together.
The director also talked about the struggle to cast Landa, and said he was going to call off the movie entirely, with the idea to revisit it a few years later, if he couldn't find the right actor for the part. Luckily, he met Waltz just one day before the cut-off point for making the decision to proceed with the film or not.
"I really had considered that I wrote a character that was unplayable," Tarantino said. "And so to actually see somebody ride that horse, and do it perfectly, I mean absolutely perfectly, I was gob smacked."
Waltz won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his portrayal of Hans Landa, and then won again for his performance as King Schultz in Tarantino's Django Unchained.
The actor will reprise his role as Blofeld in the soon-to-be-released (and long-delayed) No Time to Die, which is due out October 8 in the US, and September 30 in the UK.
While you wait, check out our roundup of all of 2021's upcoming movie release dates.