July 17, 2012 10:08am PT by Rebecca Ford
Comic-Con 2012: 'Django Unchained's' Christoph Waltz on Exploring Slavery's 'Relevance to Today's Mentality' (Video)
Django Unchained, the highly anticipated spaghetti Western from Quentin Tarantino, was one of the biggest films to appear at Comic-Con this past week, giving thousands of fans a peek at new footage and some lively stories from the cast.
Christoph Waltz, who plays a dentist-turned-bounty-hunter in the revenge story, spoke to The Hollywood Reporter after the panel. The Oscar-winning actor told THR he would have loved to have more time for questions from the audience at the Hall H panel, which also featured Tarantino, Jamie Foxx and Kerry Washington.
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“Last time I was here, there was a long line of fantastic people, not all of them asked fantastic questions, but some of them did,” said Waltz, adding that he felt fans had a “innocent way” of asking questions.
“I found that not only entertaining, but I found that really engaging and interesting,” he added.
Waltz plays Dr. King Schultz, a bounty hunter who teams up with a freed slave Django (Foxx) to hunt down some ruthless gang of killers. In return, Schultz will free Django from slavery and also help rescue his love from a plantation owner (Leonardo DiCaprio).
A major portion of the discussion at the panel focused on the slavery storyline, which Waltz’s German character would not have a full grasp on as a European. Likewise, Waltz, who is Austrian, said he had to learn a good amount about America's history for his role.
"We learn history in Europe and part of the history of the world is American history, but really the intricacies and details, I wasn't so familiar with," he told THR. "The implications for today's America and today's culture in this country and the surprisingly acute relevance to today's mentality, that's something that I really thought was one of the major perks of this job."
Waltz, who worked with Tarantino on 2009’s Inglourious Basterds, said that the auteur makes every single scene “special for a different reason.”
“We have these gunslinging moments where you don’t expect a gun to be slung,” he said. “And you have these very emotionally engaged moments where you actually expect the gun slinging.”
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“It’s the surprise element, but not just for the surprise’s sake, but because Quentin finds what makes true drama, he turns situations very often into their opposites,” he said.
Waltz told THR that he’s very eager to find out how the film will turn out, since it’s still in the editing process. Django Unchained will open in theaters on Dec. 25.
“The real storytelling happens in the edit,” he said.
As for working with his co-stars, Waltz said he had very different relationships with Foxx and DiCaprio. He was able to spend a good amount of time with Foxx before they began shooting.
“I met Jamie a long time before we started shooting and we could sort of ease into this relationship without any pressure to deliver results right away,” he said. “We just hung out, so to say. So when we started shooting we had a pretty good basis.”
Waltz did not meet DiCaprio until they began shooting because the actor was working on another film.
“I took a liking to him right away,” he said. “He’s so bright and alert and full of energy and inspiration and imagination.”
“With Jamie and I, we were sort of this established couple who could rely on each other blindly, and all of a sudden somebody came in from the side and wedged in sideways,” he said.
Django Unchained opens in theaters on December 25.
Watch THR’s complete interview above. Find all of THR’s Comic-Con interviews here.
Email: Rebecca.Ford@thr.com; Twitter: @Beccamford