Christoph Waltz had no problem heading back into the mad world of the mind that gave him the opportunity to win an Academy Award for playing a sadistic Nazi in Inglourious Basterds. With Django Unchained, the German actor gets to portray a good guy for the first time in a few years for American audiences. The first difference between the two Quentin Tarantino shoots, Waltz felt, was the landscape. Their last film was shot in Europe, while Tarantino's latest was filmed across the U.S.
"There was a difference, because over there it was kind of my home turf, and over here it’s his home turf, very much so. Yet, a story asks for a certain setting and it sort of requires different ways of attention," Waltz said. It was nice for the actor to feel at home for his first Tarantino foray, and he was ready to head out into the American topography for round two.
The Oscar winner relished playing a part within a story that explores a dark part of the American story, albeit through the eyes of Tarantino. "It was much more the confrontation with this chapter of American history and I’m not necessarily referring to slavery, just pre-Civil War America and how much all of a sudden it explained itself to me in my limited way. I don’t know whether that’s true or not and I’ve read into it a little bit. And my puzzlement about America today found a lot of explanations in its historical background."
As seen in the Django Unchained trailer, Waltz is a bounty hunter who takes in Jamie Foxx's title character to help him track down a mark.
The origins in violence in America, some have said, lie in the "Wild West" that is a feeling that permeates Django Unchained. "You know I said, 'What’s their obsession with the moment you show a square inch of naked screen [and] if it’s on the wrong spot on the body, everyone’s up in arms?' Yet, we have no problem showing to four-year-olds how people bash each other’s mugs in and splatter blood all over," Waltz admitted. The actor then dives into an argument that is of the hottest topics right now in American current affairs, something he was surprised to take away from the Django Unchained experience.
"They say, 'You know, kids need to be confronted with the reality.' What’s this awkward mixture of Puritanism and ultra-violence? How does it fit together? I never could understand and also the obsession with arms, that it is constitutional. Yes? Maybe? No? We’ve come around to understanding that the constitution is one of the basic and greatest bodies of enlightened thinking, yet from the 18th century, and we’re in the 21st. That's stuff that I didn’t expect to learn about in my work for a 'Spaghetti Western.'"
As evidenced by the glorious Inglourious Basterds quotes and Django Unchained's premise, both movies are revenge films of disenfranchised people. Waltz is still trying to delve into why that storytelling method permeates Tarantino's films. "It seems to be one of the guiding themes in Quentin’s work -- revenge in various degrees and various applications," Waltz said. The actor himself doesn't see its appeal, although he clearly adores playing in that world. "To me personally, revenge is not really that much of an interest. In a story, it always is because you now have to make a moral choice... 'Whose side am I on?' And in Quentin’s stories it’s not so clear. Inglourious Basterds was a good example. In this movie, I’m the good guy and I kill a lot more people than in Inglourious Basterds where I was a bad guy."
Waltz also sought to buck a stereotype about his native land and the people who inhabit it. He played a Nazi in Tarantino's last film, but here, he is a German motivated by what is right. "We decide beforehand who’s good or bad and then we kind of go by that. We need the keyword Nazi. We have no idea what it means but it triggers the right response so we don’t have to think about it anymore. Good or bad. This is a good guy, but bad ass -- sorry I get confused. Can he be a bad guy with a good ass?" he asked and laughed.