Director Quentin Tarantino has created some of the most popular film characters in all of pop culture. From Kill Bill’s The Bride to Pulp Fiction’s Vincent Vega, the acclaimed creator has made it almost impossible for fans to choose which of his characters is their favorite. But, apparently, that decision isn’t so hard for Tarantino himself.
Speaking at the Jerusalem Film Festival, Tarantino told a sold-out audience at the Jerusalem Cinematheque that Colonel Hans Landa from Inglourious Basterds is his best character of all-time. He said, “Landa is the best character I’ve ever written and maybe the best I ever will write. 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.”
However, Tarantino revealed that the character - and, in fact, the film - was nearly scrapped. The director described how auditions for Landa’s character went over poorly, and Tarantino had decided he would shelf the entire film if no one could do the character justice. However, a savior came to rescue the project when Christoph Waltz tried out for the role. Tarantino recalled, “I was getting worried. 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.”
As Tarantino is famously dedicated to his stories, it’s no surprise that the American filmmaker is fiercely protective of his movies’ characters. Tarantino discussed how his favorite moments on-set often occur when his actors are really able to sink into their roles. “I’m looking for that take where an actor just kicks into something — actors describe it as flying, they’re not them anymore, it’s the reason they become actors,” he said.
Tarantino attended the film festival to screen Pulp Fiction and receive a lifetime achievement award for his cinematic contributions. The acclaimed director also took time to confirm that he would be retiring once he completed his tenth feature-length film. However, Tarantino did say he hasn’t ruled out a return to filmmaking in his later years should a story, or perhaps a character, push him out of retirement.