Quentin Tarantino is one of the greatest filmmakers in history. His catalogue includes some of the most iconic movies of the past three decades, receiving countless nominations and awards for his work. From Reservoir Dogs to Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, he has crafted unique and memorable characters that still reign atop the cultural zeitgeist today. Much like the challenge of naming a favourite child, the director has revealed the best character he has ever penned, along with the tale of discovering the ideal actor to bring the role to life. If you’re up for it, have a guess before reading below.
Inglorious Basterds was an instant classic, both critically and commercially a giant success. It raised over USD$321 million worldwide at the box office, becoming Tarantino’s highest-grossing film until Django Unchained in 2012.
The movie tells an alternate historical account involving dual schemes to eliminate the leadership of Nazi Germany. One scheme is orchestrated by Shosanna Dreyfus, a young French Jewish theatre owner, while the other is devised by the British but executed exclusively by a squad of Jewish American soldiers led by First Lieutenant Aldo Raine. As the two factions operated covertly to execute their seemingly implausible scheme, an obstacle emerged in the form of Hans Landa, an SS colonel assigned to hunt down Raine’s team.
Best Character Tarantino has Written
When talking to a crowd at Jerusalem Cinematheque, Screen Daily reported that Tarantino said he believes Landa is the greatest written character he’s ever created. “Landa is the best character I’ve ever written and maybe the best I ever will write,” he said. “I didn’t realise that he was a linguistic genius. He’s probably one of the only Nazis in history who could speak perfect Yiddish.”
In another interview with Empire Magazine, he said Landa was the most fun he had ever had writing a character. “The minute he enters a scene, he dominates it,” Tarantino said. “All the things that he was supposed to be good at, he was that good at them. I found I had a really interesting situation with him that has been hard to have with any other character. It was the fact he was not only a bad guy, not only a Nazi, but a Nazi known as the Jew Hunter, who is finding Jews and sending them to the concentration camp, but when he shows up towards the end of the movie, kinda figuring out what the Basterds are doing, the audience wants him to.”
“They’re not rooting for him, but it’s a fucking movie, and if he figures it out it’s going to be a more exciting movie!” Tarantino continued. “You know, you don’t want him to let you down. We’ve set up that he knows everybody’s secrets, so he’s got to know theirs. And it will make a more exciting climax if he does.”
Shockingly, Tarantino then revealed the movie was about to be put on the back burner because he couldn’t find anyone up to the task of playing Landa. “I was getting worried,” said Tarantino. “Unless I found the perfect Landa, I was going to pull the movie. I gave myself one more week and then I was going to pull the plug. Then Christoph Waltz came in and it was obvious that he was the guy; he could do everything. He was amazing, he gave us our movie back.”
Making the most of his opportunity, the Austrian’s performance would land him an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor.
Unfortunately for fans, Tarantino has consistently mentioned his 10-movies-and-out plan. Speaking with Deadline in 2014, he stated: “I like that I will leave a 10-film filmography, and so I’ve got two more to go after this. It’s not etched in stone, but that is the plan. If I get to the tenth, do a good job and don’t screw it up, well, that sounds like a good way to end the old career. If, later on, I come across a good movie, I won’t not do it just because I said I wouldn’t. But 10 and done, leaving them wanting more — that sounds right.”
If we are to take Tarantino at his word, that would mean his tenth feature film The Movie Critic, which began filming in LA earlier this year, would be his last. However, his retirement won’t be spent on the golf course; the 60-year-old plans on spending his time “writing plays and books, going gracefully into my tender years.”