Christoph Waltz entered the spotlight with his portrayal of SS Officer Hans Landa in Quentin Tarantino’s ‘Inglourious Basterds.’ Despite a career spanning over four decades and a collection of accolades, there’s a sense that Hollywood hasn’t fully acknowledged the Austrian-German actor’s acting talent. Let’s take a look at his career to examine why.
Waltz’s Career Highlights
Waltz’s career has seen him take on a variety of roles. His portrayal of characters ranges from Col. Hans Landa to Dr. King Schultz in ‘Django Unchained,’ another Tarantino classic.
The actor reached a milestone with his role in ‘Inglourious Basterds.’ The character, who was an articulate and multilingual Nazi officer, eventually made Waltz earn an Academy Award and a BAFTA for Best Supporting Actor in 2009.
Beyond his ability to portray menacing figures, Waltz’s second Oscar-winning performance as Dr. King Schultz in ‘Django Unchained’ showed a more heroic side, with a German bounty hunter aiding in a mission of liberation. His gentle storytelling in one scene showed the audience Waltz also had a capacity for warmth and depth.
Throughout his career, Waltz also played a suspicious husband in ‘Georgetown,’ showed his comedic timing as Alan in ‘Carnage,’ depicted a manipulative husband who took credit for his wife’s paintings in ‘Big Eyes,’ had a cameo in ‘Muppets Most Wanted,’ voiced Count Volpe in del Toro’s ‘Pinocchio,’ and briefly appeared in ‘The French Dispatch.’
Despite this recognition, Waltz’s appearances in films have been infrequent, leading many to wonder why such an actor isn’t gracing the screen more often.
The Impact of Languages On Waltz’s Acting
Born in Vienna, Austria, Waltz grew up speaking German. His father was a German set designer, and his mother was an Austrian costume designer. The actor speaks English and French fluently, and his multilingual abilities have allowed him to work with various international filmmakers and play diverse roles.
Waltz’s portrayal of multilingual characters, such as Hans Landa in ‘Inglourious Basterds,’ as you see above, shows his linguistic skills. Apart from this role, his command of French enabled him to convincingly portray a Francophone character in ‘Water for Elephants.’
Why is Cristopher Waltz Underrated?
Some speculate that Waltz’s role as Landa may have pigeonholed him into villainous roles, such as Blofeld in the James Bond films ‘Spectre’ and ‘No Time to Die.’ This pigeonholing, however, doesn’t do justice to his other performances in films like ‘The French Dispatch’ and the Amazon Prime show ‘The Consultant,‘ where he brings complexity to his characters.
Others suggest that perhaps not all directors can draw out Waltz’s best performances as Tarantino does, given the director’s knack for crafting characters that align well with Waltz’s strengths. Interestingly, it was Waltz’s role as Col. Landa that almost led to ‘Inglourious Basterds’ never seeing the light of day, as Tarantino searched long for the perfect actor before him.
Reddittors also argue that perhaps casting directors might be limiting his potential by confining him to roles similar to that of Col. Landa. Others argue that language barriers and the choices made by Waltz’s team could be influencing the roles he is offered.