'Basterds' star uses experience to deal with hype

Christoph Waltz took home the top actor prize at this year’s Cannes Film Festival for his turn in Quentin Tarantino’s “Inglourious Basterds” as the elegantly ruthless Nazi Hans Landa. Justly nicknamed “the Jew Hunter,” Waltz’s Landa is capable of enjoying creme brulee and strangling a woman with equal measures of aplomb and menace.

What a way to be introduced to the world’s stage. Waltz, an Austrian who had spent most of his career working in German television, calls Landa and “Inglourious Basterds” “something I’ve been waiting for for 30 years, and all of the sudden it’s in front of me.

“Working with Quentin is so great,” Waltz adds. “Initially, I found the role a little unapproachable. It was such an individual thing. The parameters he works within are so precise, yet you feel all the liberty in the world. He allowed me to admit to certain idiosyncrasies.”

Waltz says his years of experience have helped him put the Oscar buzz around his role in perspective.

“It has very much proved my point in considering that what I do and the hype are two entirely different businesses,” he says. “They serve one purpose, but what I do for a living has nothing to do with the hype business. The advantage I have over those who are 25 years old is that I have had time to understand what really is my job. Younger actors may confuse exposure and hype with what an actor’s supposed to do. It’s an enormous benefit to have that perspective.”

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