Out of all the ’90s auteurs, there are two strong visionaries whose larger-than-life characters tend to outlive the movies themselves. There’s Texas filmmaker Wes Anderson, who knows a thing or two about carving out strong, memorable personalities. And then, of course, there’s the Los Angeles bruiser and ball buster, Quentin Tarantino.
Tarantino’s major strengths are arguably behind the typewriter, which explains why he’s a two-time Oscar winner in the Screenplay category. For over two decades, he’s birthed dozens and dozens of anti-heroes, most of whom spit out some of the best lines ever committed to screen. So, it’s a pretty tall order to ask the guy who he considers his favorite.
But he did.
At the recent Jerusalem Film Festival, Tarantino admitted, “I like my actors, but I love my characters,” which led to a digression, as he’s wont to do, on his most prized one. Was it the Burger King-hating Vincent Vega? Or the murderous, vengeful The Bride? Or maybe the fast-talking, no tipping Mr. Pink? No, no, and not even close.
(Dissected: Every Quentin Tarantino Film From Worst to Best)
“Landa is the best character I’ve written and maybe the best I ever will write,” Tarantino confessed. “I didn’t realize [when I was first writing him] that he was a linguistic genius. He’s probably one of the only Nazis in history who could speak perfect Yiddish.”
Christoph Waltz, who played the whimsical villain in 2009’s Inglourious Basterds, won the Best Supporting Oscar the following year. (He would win the same statue again three years later for his role as Dr. King Schultz in Tarantino’s Django Unchained.) Though, the filmmaker initially feared no one would capture the role accurately.
“I was getting worried,” Tarantino added. “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.”
Now, that Tarantino’s offered up his top pick, let us know yours. If you need help, this past Winter, we chiseled down his sordid rogues gallery of cowboys, racists, mobsters, Nazis, and thieves, to pick the worst of the worst. Might be worth a second look.