For the Press

by July 18, 2012

 

After seeing interview after interview of Mr. Waltz being asked the same questions and the frustration evident on the part of both journalists and Mr. Waltz, we at CWF would like to humbly put forth our suggestions to any member of the press who is planning an interview with him.

  • Please do not ask him to describe his character in the film or to describe the film.   He will always give a similar answer, along the lines of, “it’s not {his} job to describe what {he} thinks the viewer should see.”
  • He gives the definitive answer to this issue right here:

  • Please do not ask him to recite a catch phrase or offer him milk, strudel, etc.  Apart from making a very bad impression, he’s not a caricature of himself or one of his prior roles, and it’s quite offensive.
  • Please do not ask him about “villains”.  You will get an answer along the lines of being a villain is subjective to the viewer and reductive of his role. If you must refer to a character with a label, “primary antagonist” is far better.
  • Please do not ask him, “What was it like working with {Insert Co-star or director}” This is not only an unoriginal question, but the literal answer is that working with XYZ is very similar to working with everyone else who is a professional in the movie industry. If you are looking for Mr. Waltz’s personal assessment of someone, ask it like this, “How was the experience of working closely with {XYZ} different than your other experiences?” or “Did you enjoy getting to know {XYZ} while working together?”  “Did you have the opportunity to get to know {XYZ} while working with him/her?”  “Did anything particularly funny or memorable happen on set while working with {XYZ}? Can you tell us about it?”
  • Please do not ask him about his family or personal life.   Mr. Waltz is a 55 year old Academy Award winner, and it’s not any of your business.  He has a right to privacy.
  • Please stay on topic. If the interview is about a particular project, keep it focused on that project. Do not talk about prior roles.
  • Show respect.  Manners and social etiquette are very important.  Use “Mr. Waltz” not Christoph.  He’s from Vienna Austria, not Germany. His name is Christoph, not Christopher.  When a reporter gets those details wrong, it is unprofessional and shows a lack of respect for the person they’re speaking with. Most of the bad interviews have started out with the interviewer being crude, crass or disrespectful.
  • Do your homework. Ask your questions clearly.  Don’t use statements and expect Mr. Waltz to flush out the rest of the question or explanation. Have a point to your questions and a direction to your interview.
  • Understand cultural differences. Mr. Waltz has lived in Europe for most of his life.  While understanding American culture, he has not been saturated in it as most Americans have been.  He tends to answer questions literally, and will draw in relevant examples from his own knowledge that may not be easily understood by someone who is not versed in the fine arts, theater, literary and cultural influences. If you are confused by his meaning or reference to a topic, it could be worth asking him to explain it further or admitting your confusion or lack of knowledge as you – the interviewer – are the surrogate for your audience, and they will likely be confused as well.
  • Be humble.  You don’t need to feel intimidated if you are humble enough to admit you don’t understand something and willing to ask for clarification.  Your time may be limited, but it is worth having an interview that is interesting and informative rather than an interview that is marred with mutual frustration.

Just remember, even if your questions are not entirely original, being respectful and approaching Mr. Waltz with manners and decorum will go a very long way to having a successful encounter with him.  He may not be the easiest person to interview, but he is certainly one of the most interesting and knowledgeable actors working today. The effort you put into doing your job will be rewarded with an excellent encounter.

Examples of good interviews:

Jake Hamilton does some of the BEST interviews with Mr. Waltz we have ever seen.

Green Hornet Interview: Christoph Waltz/Jake Hamilton

Inglourious Basterds Interview: Christoph Waltz/Jake Hamilton

Charlie Rose interviews Christoph Waltz: Part 1 Part 2 Part 3

Christoph Waltz interviewed by BlackTreeMedia

New York Moves Magazine interview with Christoph Waltz

Examples of bad interviews:

French interviewer offers Waltz milk, it all goes downhill (English)  (You can’t do much worse than this)

Christoph Waltz Fans