ChristophWaltzFans.com Fan Club
The ChristophWaltzFans.com fan club is made up of members from almost every continent who support Christoph. We aim to represent him online via this website, to give him support at public events, and to coordinate projects for the participation and enjoyment of the entire fan community.
Christoph Waltz – An Appreciation
Before I had children, I was an avid moviegoer. But as many of us learn, once you start a family, your priorities change and one doesn’t always have the time and energy for things like film. As a result, over the past few years, I’ve seen only a handful of movies – usually those requested by my children as Christmas presents (way too much Pixar). So, in 2009 I found myself buying a copy of Inglourious Basterds per my 17 year old son’s request (my daughter asked for Julia and Julia – she likes to cook, never mind). Then, after clearing up the holiday carnage, I went downstairs and proceeded to watch the film.
Since I always have been a Tarantino fan, I was prepared for a good time. And, let’s be honest, Brad Pitt has never been a problem for the eyes. However, as it turns out, I wasn’t in any way prepared for the juggernaut that was about to crash through my television set. The movie opened with that familiar whistling present in so many Spaghetti Westerns. I tapped my foot nervously as I watched the farmer chopping wood while a car approached in the background. As anyone who’s ever watched a WWII movie knows, when the men in the leather topcoats arrive – well, it’s just not a good thing for anyone. And so the door opened and out popped the requisite Nazi, strolling confidently up the grass toward the farmer. But wait, he’s smiling and has extended his hand in greeting. Who is this happy little representative of one of the most feared and despised organizations the world has ever known? What a delightful man! Who’s the actor, I wondered, and why haven’t I seen him before? So, I proceeded to watch the actor playing Colonel Landa charm his way through the film. I was loath to turn my eyes from the screen to check the DVD case for the actor’s name for fear I’d miss his next appearance. Honestly, the only other time in my life when I was instantly struck by the appearance of a performer, was while watching a production of Wagner’s Das Rheingold when Siegfried Jerusalem bounded onto the stage as the character Loge (I apologize, I realize that that may be a slightly pretentious reference for Tarantino’s posse, but he does have operatic leanings) . As was the case with Anthony Hopkins in The Silence of The Lambs, I found myself rooting for the bad guy (that’s always so unsettling – whatever could be the reason for that?)
The film ended, the credits rolled and I was introduced to the name Christoph Waltz. I had completely forgotten that Brad Pitt was in the movie. Mike Myers, B.J. Novak and Harvey Keitel’s voice – blip, gone! But that actor who played Landa – Good Lord! What exactly is it about Mr. Waltz that makes him so much fun to watch? As Nazis go, he’s nice-looking – good hair cut, handsome face, solid physique (although in all fairness, Hugo Boss knew his business when he designed the uniforms for the German army), and his demeanor is pleasant to the point of charismatic. Mr. Waltz is not young, he’s not old, at 54, he is, as Goldilocks would say, “Just right.” So, what makes him more interesting than other actors in their 50’s and even 40’s for that matter? (I feel it necessary to declare at this point that I’m 48, so I’ll claim Mr. Waltz as a contemporary – woo hoo!).
When you look into the pool of actors born between 1952 and 1961, you find Clooney, Spacey, Firth, Hanks, Neeson, Williams, Washington, Travolta, Buscemi, and Mortenson. I’m going to cross Clooney off immediately, because his looks are a distraction. Kevin Spacey – fantastic, but is presently too busy with the Old Vic to grace us with his presence (come on Kev – we miss you!). Colin Firth – very nice, but I’d just as soon wait for his films to come out on video. Tom Hanks – outstanding American actor, right up there with Jack Lemmon. Liam Neeson – an excellent actor, but . . . meh. Robin Williams – funniest person living or dead, but requires a pharmaceutical stimulant to really catch it all, and then not sure if it was perhaps something I dreamt. Denzel – awesome actor, but like Liam, leaves me a little flat. John Travolta – always strong, but not consistent in his choice of roles (Mr. Tarantino could give him another boost). Steve Buscemi – o.k., now we’re getting somewhere – absolutely riveting on the screen (despite his dental shortcomings – and in a town where looks count for so much, wow!). Viggo – beautiful man, but still, I’d probably wait for his films to come out on video.
Which brings us back to Herr Waltz. Nearly a year after he swept almost every award for his role in Inglourious Basterds, his next film, The Green Hornet was released. I love Seth Rogen, and while he’s no Olivier (really, he’s not even Paul Rudd), his performance in Knocked Up was surprisingly endearing, and his stoner dude is spot on. Although I wouldn’t wait in line to see Mr. Rogen in a film, after seeing Inglourious Basterds, I would stand in line to see Christoph Waltz – so in this case, Seth gets a ride on (aces for everyone!)
Now, in all fairness, The Green Hornet was really doomed from the start. It passed between the hands of numerous directors and screenwriters before actually coming to fruition. How fortuitous for Mr. Rogen that Nicholas Cage had artistic differences with those in charge of the film, and dropped out, opening the door for Mr. Waltz. Christoph Waltz’s Chudnofsky does for The Green Hornet what Jack Nicholson’s Joker did for Batman. You have an amazing actor surrounded by . . . well, let’s just say, less than amazing actors. And, as was the case in Inglourious Basterds, I couldn’t wait for him to reappear in The Green Hornet. Why is that?
Water for Elephants was recently released, and once again, we find Mr. Waltz playing the antagonist, this time to Rob Pattinson’s protagonist. While Mr. Pattinson is a capable actor, he is perhaps better known for his good looks (his legions of fans could give those of the Grateful Dead a serious run for their money), and has in his past films, garnered most, if not all of the on-screen attention. In Sara Gruen’s novel, there exist two characters – Uncle Al, the circus owner, and August, the animal trainer. In adapting the novel to film, the characters of August and Uncle Al were combined into one, leaving Mr. Waltz with the challenge of bringing both personalities together in one person. This couldn’t have been an easy task. However, Waltz pulls it off, delivering a character who appears to be both charming and menacing often in the same scene. That boyish grin and twinkling eye can turn cold and hard in a flash. The scene-stealing had to have felt like child’s play for the gentleman who brought us Hans Landa.
I can’t say for certain what it is that Christoph Waltz brings to the screen. It might be a facial tick or a hand gesture. Perhaps it’s his timing, or maybe it’s the turn of a phrase with that slightly bizarre Woody Allen diction. The only thing I know for certain is that Mr. Waltz doesn’t so much appear on the screen as that he lights it up. The novelist Graham Greene once said that “playing Russian roulette was something akin to turning carnival lights on in a darkened street.” This is much like the experience that a viewer has when Mr. Waltz bounds onto the screen. Regardless of who else is in the scene, when Waltz appears, a switch is flipped, the lights come on and there is clarity.
Watching Mr. Waltz’ career progress in the States, is a bit like watching The Little Engine That Could. Unknown to most people in America at the time of its release, he caught a lot of attention with his performance in Inglourious Basterds. The Green Hornet brought him a few Comic Con fans, and Water for Elephants has rewarded him with some Twilight groupies. As far as the future goes, The Three Musketeers and Carnage are looming in the distance. These will no doubt bring in some Paul Anderson fans looking for 3D action, and perhaps those intellectuals interested in what Roman Polanski can do with a Broadway hit. But best of all, it was announced this week that another collaboration between Mr. Waltz and Mr. Tarantino will begin filming this fall, bringing Mr. Waltz’s international odyssey full circle. After that, who knows? All I can tell you is that once again, the cinema is alive, and movies have become interesting.
Written by Lisa Riley Emig
Cannot be reproduced without the writer’s permission