Exclusive: Inglourious Basterds - The Cast Discuss Their Characters

Brad Pitt, Diane Kruger, Christoph Waltz and the rest share their memories of the shoot.

by | August 18, 2009 | Comments

Inglourious Basterds, Quentin Tarantino‘s unique take on the Second World War, blasts into cinemas on Friday. Following our interview with the maverick director last week, RT sat down for exclusive chats with Brad Pitt, Diane Kruger, Christoph Waltz, Eli Roth, Melanie Laurent, Til Schweiger, Daniel Brühl and Michael Fassbender to learn more about their characters and the Tarantino experience, with additional comments from the director himself. Join us as we discover Tarantino’s original plans to play Pitt’s character himself, Diane Kruger’s desire to record a song in character and how Eli Roth came to replace Adam Sandler.


Lt. Aldo Raine (Brad Pitt)

Inglourious Basterds


Brad Pitt:

Inglourious BasterdsI did True Romance, which he wrote, and we were in each other’s periphery from time to time. I was told he had this thing that he’d been writing for eight years, and he originally wrote the part for himself. Somewhere along the way he decided that I would make sense in it, and he put it my way. [laughs] I always had a feeling we’d work together!

So he came out to see me and we cracked open a bottle of wine — because I was in the south of France — and had a laugh and talked about film from A to Z, as you enjoy doing with him. I’m not sure how much of the movie we got through that night, but it’s one of the best scripts I’ve read.



Quentin Tarantino:

Inglourious BasterdsBrad Pitt and I wanted to work together for a long time and this was just the right time, completely. I didn’t really consider anybody else — he was one of the first people to read the script. After I finished it, two days later I sent him a copy. And it was cool, because he was waiting for it.


Col. Hans Landa (Christoph Waltz)

Inglourious Basterds


Quentin Tarantino:

Inglourious BasterdsIf I hadn’t have found the right Col. Landa I would have pulled the plug on the movie. I just wouldn’t have made the movie, because Landa’s a linguistic genius.


Christoph Waltz:

Inglourious BasterdsI walked into the audition and we did a reading together. No cameras, no pressure, we were just playing, and Quentin’s so great at making you feel at ease, because that really is the basis. You need to feel safe, and then things can develop. We started playing, like two kids in a room, and we went through the whole script. That was there the ball started rolling.

After I walked out of the first session, I said to the casting agent in Berlin, ‘Look, if that’s it, it will have been more than just worthwhile. Thank you!’ And when Quentin called me back for a second audition, I said, ‘I feel exactly the same, only now it’s 200 per cent better.’ And a few days later I got the call.


Bridget Von Hammersmark (Diane Kruger)

Inglourious Basterds


Diane Kruger:

Inglourious BasterdsWhen I took the role, I thought, I’m sure it’s going to ruffle a few feathers! But I felt that — because it’s a farce and a fairytale, and because it’s Quentin Tarantino — if anyone can get away with it, it’ll be him. And I thought it was funny. That’s why I wanted to do it.

I’m German. Trust me, I get offered a World War Two movie once a week! And I like to think that, if I’d been Bridget Von Hammersmark, I’d have brought down the Third Reich too. We did some mock-up movie posters, with me as Bridget, but you don’t see all of them in the movie because they were only able to use a couple. Quentin came up with all these film titles, like Auf Wiedersehen Doesn’t Mean Goodbye. I tried to convince him to let me record a song. I can’t sing for a shit, but in those days, all the movie stars sang, whether they could sing or not. So I was trying to persuade Quentin that I should maybe record one as Bridget. [laughs] He was not too impressed.



Quentin Tarantino:

Inglourious BasterdsOne of Diane’s inspirations for Bridget was Hildegard Knef, but my jumping-off point was a Hungarian actress called Ilona Massey. MGM first brought her out to replace Jeanette MacDonald with Nelson Eddy, and later Universal got her and they were going to try to turn her into their Dietrich. She was a minor star, but it didn’t work, so she ended up having to do all these Universal movies, like Frankenstein movies, Invisible Man movies and Sherlock Holmes movies. And my whole point about it was: if Bridget had gone to America when Dietrich went, that would have been her career.


Sgt. Donny Donowitz (Eli Roth)

Inglourious Basterds


Eli Roth:

Inglourious BasterdsDonny carries a baseball bat. He doesn’t want to shoot Nazis, he doesn’t wanna scalp Nazis or slice their throats. He wants to feel the violence. He wants to feel the sensation of beating Nazis to death with his bare hands.

Originally the part was going to be written for Adam Sandler – in December 2004, when Quentin first told me about Donny, he said, ‘I’m thinking about Adam Sandler for this.’ As he was writing it, I kind-of became his Jewish sounding board. At that point he had the basic storyline, and he was working it all out, but there just certain moral character choices that he wasn’t sure about, and he wanted to be authentic. And after a while he said, ‘You know, Eli, while I’m writing this character I’m just hearing your voice in my head.’ And when it came time to make the movie, he said, ‘Pick up the script — you’re going to Germany.’

The Cannes premiere felt like we were shooting a scene from the movie. It was like we had one last mission, and the mission was, we were going to infiltrate the Inglourious Basterds premiere. And here’s the plan: we were all going to dress up like movie stars, and because Aldo looks the most like a movie star, we’d dress like him and follow him up the red carpet. When he put on his sunglasses, we’d put on our sunglasses. When he took them off and waved, we’d take them off and wave. And that’s how we’d sneak into the Inglourious Basterds premiere. And then we’d blow up the fucking theatre.


Shosanna Dreyfus (Melanie Laurent)

Inglourious Basterds


Quentin Tarantino:

Inglourious BasterdsMelanie Laurent just came in and auditioned. She’s terrific, a wonderful actress. She has a lovely emotions-at-the-ready quality. She completely understands Shosanna, in her soul, and she’s a lot of fun to work with. She’s just… Boom! She’s a great collaborator.


Melanie Laurent:

Inglourious BasterdsI decided to play Shosanna as very cold, very arrogant, very French. [laughs] That’s my specialty! I think she’s alive, but she’s died inside and she’s just surviving. But she’s a Tarantino heroine, so she’s fragile and strong at the same time, and she can cry sometimes. I think Shosanna is very clever, and when you’re really clever, it’s all in your head. You don’t have to show everything.


Lt. Archie Hicox (Michael Fassbender)

Inglourious Basterds


Michael Fassbender:

Inglourious BasterdsMy American agent hounded Quentin practically every day until Quentin said, ‘OK, come over to Berlin.’ My being able to speak German was a massive plus, but I had to do a lot of work to make it sound right. I had to make sure I didn’t sound like an English person speaking German. That’s still there, but I had to really minimise it as much as possible. An English-speaking audience wouldn’t notice, but I didn’t want the German audience to say, “Jesus Christ, we’d know in two seconds that he was English!” The German cast were really good about it, and they were really supportive. [laughs] Well, they actually took the piss quite a bit, which I guess was payback for all the times they have to speak English! When I watched the film with Daniel Brühl in Cannes he said, ‘It sounds a little bit off, but it’s not blindingly clear you’re a total foreigner.’

I knew immediately from the audition what Quentin was looking for there. I knew he wasn’t looking for a super-cool commando, someone like a Michael Caine. And I knew that Simon Pegg was originally attached, so I thought, OK, Simon’s a funny guy, so obviously Quentin’s looking for some humour. Also, the way he read it with me at the audition made me think, OK, he wants me to push it in that direction. He gave me all the ammunition. He said, ‘Archie’s like a young George Sanders.’ I mean, it’s even in the script. So I watched as many of the old Saint films I could get my hands on, and as many George Sanders films as I could, and tried to get that air of a 1940s movie star. The way they talked then was very much different then, like an upper-class character would talk today. So that’s what I tried to zone in on.


Fredrik Zoller (Daniel Brühl)

Inglourious Basterds


Quentin Tarantino:

Inglourious BasterdsZoller’s a war hero. And his affection for Shosanna, even though she doesn’t really return it, is genuine. Everything he’s doing for her, he’s doing with the best intentions. Now, little does he know that he’s fucking her up and starting a whole cataclysmic series of events. But his heart is really in the right place.


Daniel Brühl:

Inglourious BasterdsI tried to get as much information about the Nazis and see as many movies as I could, but a lot of it is forbidden in Germany. It’s easier to get them in other countries than in Germany itself. You aren’t allowed to watch certain movies, and sometimes you just see parts of it — you can’t see the whole movie. So I tried to see as much as I could, which meant a lot of movies by Leni Reifenstahl.

There’s a great documentary about the last film made by the Nazis, called The Life Goes On, which was never finished; it disappeared. I also looked at films starring Audie Murphy, because he was an inspiration for Quentin for the part; an American war hero who became an actor by playing himself.



Sgt. Hugo Stiglitz (Til Schweiger)

Inglourious Basterds


Til Schweiger:

Inglourious BasterdsOver the years I’d heard on the grapevine that Quentin was planning a World War Two movie, and I kept calling my agent in America, saying, ‘Get on that! I want to be in that film!’ But that was all I knew, and when I read the script I was blown away. I thought it was his best writing since Pulp Fiction, and I was very impressed with his knowledge of German cinema, with his knowledge of accents. It’s a fairytale. Everybody knows how the Third Reich ended, so Quentin is using his freedom as a filmmaker to create his own world. When I was a kid I used to dream about how cool it would be to kill those fuckers. To go after Goering and Goebbels and Hitler and all those motherfuckers! And when I read the script, I said to him, ‘I’m very jealous that I didn’t have this idea myself!’ It’s a brilliant idea, I think.


General Ed Fenech (Mike Myers)

Inglourious Basterds


Quentin Tarantino:

Inglourious BasterdsMike has just let it be known that he’s an admirer of my work. He’s a big fan, and he’s also a World War Two expert, a real World War Two aficionado. And he’s just a terrific character actor, so I talked to him about playing an older British general, modeled after the older George Sanders. He loved the idea, so we talked on the phone for a couple of hours and just had a great conversation, just free-associated left, right and centre. He came over and, man, he was an absolute dream to work with. He was so much fun; he gave a great performance.

Inglourious Basterds is released in the UK on 19th August, in Australia on 20th August and in the US on 21st August.

Tag Cloud

heist movie Pacific Islander halloween Music sports binge USA Network MSNBC comiccon new zealand game show Tarantino politics ITV Superheroes royal family Mary Tyler Moore Winners comic Disney+ Disney Plus Peacock adventure WGN aapi Amazon Prime Video Binge Guide rt labs critics edition mockumentary IFC Films Fall TV boxing Discovery Channel Horror Sci-Fi spider-man Academy Awards NBA Marvel IFC superman 71st Emmy Awards animated blaxploitation ID zombie sequels 2021 name the review El Rey fast and furious Drama Pirates serial killer Disney Channel Sundance Hallmark Christmas movies YouTube Premium Tubi remakes spider-verse DirecTV Set visit trophy telelvision Reality Watching Series TCA Winter 2020 japan crime Image Comics cats green book children's TV new star wars movies sopranos mission: impossible tv talk women science fiction CBS All Access HBO Max HBO Go TCA Awards dc Sundance Now Winter TV Lucasfilm feel good Year in Review Captain marvel talk show 007 History Television Academy composers boxoffice Legendary worst movies high school 1990s discovery Disney Plus know your critic breaking bad suspense New York Comic Con movies TV movies Endgame Bravo doctor who Marathons Tags: Comedy live event comic book movies Podcast vs. TCM dark Holidays rt labs Trivia YouTube book adaptation facebook asian-american Amazon Studios venice 2015 obituary Comic-Con@Home 2021 TNT joker 24 frames BBC America cults canceled spinoff PBS Exclusive Video FOX comedies cancelled TV shows Cartoon Network SDCC 2018 cinemax period drama true crime zombies ESPN DC streaming service crime thriller FX Pet Sematary Mindy Kaling hidden camera Chernobyl batman superhero CBS natural history police drama mcc concert rotten TV biopic classics posters Adult Swim GoT LGBTQ 2016 dogs Epix Film Netflix Christmas movies Tumblr kaiju miniseries legend godzilla TruTV Tokyo Olympics comics reviews VH1 strong female leads Showtime Shondaland Cosplay basketball President finale based on movie blockbusters CW Seed japanese Walt Disney Pictures Alien FXX CMT television Nat Geo unscripted toronto Sundance TV space Dark Horse Comics action-comedy Song of Ice and Fire art house TV One medical drama TV Land kids trailers hist italian thriller Rom-Com Marvel Studios award winner Mary Poppins Returns spy thriller best 73rd Emmy Awards independent docudrama 99% YouTube Red A24 HBO festival Toys ABC Family Arrowverse streaming toy story Mary poppins TLC 79th Golden Globes Awards universal monsters comic book movie 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards BBC Paramount Network First Reviews sag awards Musicals diversity prank Pride Month Marvel Television Comedy Central Netflix cars PaleyFest Warner Bros. live action international Universal cartoon scorecard 21st Century Fox Apple Hulu christmas movies Apple TV+ romantic comedy Teen Classic Film australia Star Wars critics Polls and Games Rocky SundanceTV foreign Infographic Acorn TV Masterpiece TCA 2017 football monster movies war Family Ellie Kemper Western travel canceled TV shows The Walking Dead hollywood Syfy vampires PlayStation cancelled television halloween tv french The Witch genre what to watch ABC cancelled black cooking psycho Funimation AMC Plus Brie Larson First Look black comedy Quiz Pixar Hollywood Foreign Press Association MCU LGBT technology documentaries Columbia Pictures slashers Shudder cancelled TV series Disney streaming service political drama Reality Competition romance Awards Tour NBC leaderboard deadpool debate Lionsgate crime drama indie Spectrum Originals Lifetime Christmas movies hispanic heritage month wonder woman Sneak Peek BBC One werewolf 4/20 X-Men nbcuniversal Action Holiday Calendar jurassic park 2020 72 Emmy Awards young adult Avengers mutant Certified Fresh Ghostbusters Christmas psychological thriller HFPA The Purge Turner Classic Movies Amazon Prime Mystery Film Festival American Society of Cinematographers versus Chilling Adventures of Sabrina dreamworks RT History Animation TV renewals Rocketman Awards rom-coms DC Comics cops Star Trek james bond twilight WarnerMedia anthology Sony Pictures Heroines A&E mob Neflix disaster Character Guide Crunchyroll gangster Opinion razzies Grammys E3 Esquire justice league OWN BET jamie lee curtis OneApp Comedy Black History Month NYCC a nightmare on elm street adaptation marvel cinematic universe book 45 BAFTA See It Skip It TCA Nominations spain teaser Thanksgiving Fox News VOD dragons zero dark thirty quibi Pop TV spanish Elton John Vudu documentary witnail Food Network Red Carpet Oscars chucky Baby Yoda video archives National Geographic child's play Countdown free movies Election nfl movie Country critic resources Trailer renewed TV shows Disney stoner Prime Video Mudbound ratings Ovation spanish language Photos docuseries satire golden globe awards Anna Paquin Biopics Cannes franchise fresh Hallmark Video Games Paramount Plus Amazon blockbuster kong video on demand GLAAD dramedy Premiere Dates 2019 E! Fantasy Logo ViacomCBS Superheroe revenge Broadway Rock FX on Hulu laika series YA Musical 93rd Oscars screen actors guild Extras Kids & Family richard e. Grant nature worst supernatural saw theme song TIFF Creative Arts Emmys criterion south america Summer Writers Guild of America Britbox all-time latino Tomatazos The Arrangement Hear Us Out Valentine's Day Martial Arts 2017 news screenings harry potter DC Universe SXSW reboot San Diego Comic-Con The Academy 90s USA aliens parents slasher comic books Nickelodeon The CW ABC Signature rotten movies we love rt archives Universal Pictures casting DGA Schedule scary Super Bowl Trophy Talk scene in color Spring TV king kong Comics on TV Television Critics Association marvel comics lord of the rings Emmys Fargo streaming movies Instagram Live directors ghosts new york target Crackle CNN films MTV golden globes die hard The Walt Disney Company hispanic RT21 TBS Black Mirror indiana jones BET Awards APB Women's History Month game of thrones singing competition Turner Starz Travel Channel Fox Searchlight Stephen King Comic Book stop motion historical drama robots elevated horror anime GIFs olympics transformers king arthur Freeform crossover sitcom Apple TV Plus Best and Worst dceu Lifetime sequel stand-up comedy 20th Century Fox social media festivals Wes Anderson popular Pop Spike biography dexter pirates of the caribbean Box Office Emmy Nominations scary movies VICE AMC Paramount IMDb TV Interview emmy awards Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt adenture