There are few film franchises with as many fascinating and fun villains as James Bond, from Auric Goldfinger to Ernst Stavro Blofeld to Red Grant to Alec Trevelyan and on, and the 24th Bond film Spectre is no different. In it, Christoph Waltz plays Franz Oberhauser, a mysterious man with a mysterious connection to 007 himself. The two-time Oscar winner was very uncomfortable with some of the questions bu the chat a lot about his passion for the Opera, his lack of Spanish and his love for reading. Here is what he said about his character and what we can expect from him.
P: So, what can you tell us about your character in James Bond?
Christoph Waltz: I’m playing a businessman who runs a big and successful organization to fulfill his vision of a better world.
P: Are you a big reader of Bond books?
Christoph: You know, because Ian Fleming wrote how many Bond novels? I think 8, or 12, or something like that. And this is movie number 24. And so, you know, I’m sure there is a lot of this in Ian Fleming. No, also, you know, with Daniel, James Bond became more what Ian Fleming intended, because Ian Fleming’s James Bond is a much darker character. I think it really was, you know, the era when they started it. The ‘60s, that -- you know, with Sean Connery, they made sort of a ‘60s and, you know, pre-sexual revolution kind of -- and a flamboyant thing. And that became the style. And then, you know, it developed into this or it cultivated more than developed, really, into more of this sarcasm, irony and close to cynicism on the Roger Moore, or with Roger Moore. And that became the predominant Bond quality. And really, with Daniel, it kind of came back to the original Bond, a little bit closer, you know, away from this. I read most of his books because I truly like him
P: When -- I’m not saying obviously that you’re necessarily playing a villain in this film. But when you have in the past played a villain, humor was quite an important element of that character.
Christoph: Yeah. Well, it goes along with that. And, you know, you can’t have Bond in the whole context change and have the so-called villains still be, you know, prancing about and joking. It is kind of a funny bit. So that -- you know, it’s the overall tone of the -- to use this somewhat overused term -- narrative.
P: As a European actor are you familiar with different cultures from Europe as maybe Spain
Christoph: Of Course, I am a big fan of Spain, in fact I’m a very close friend of Plácido Domingo. He and I maybe will work together in an Opera that I’m planning to direct.
P: Have you read Spanish authors?
Christoph: Many books, many authors. I’m a big reader and a big believer in reading in different languages. You open a window to other cultures through the eyes of their writers. I do try to read in English, German, French, as much as I can. My Spanish is very poor so I do have to read translations when is time to read authors that write in Spanish.
P: Javier Bardem was another villain in Bond, as you
Christoph: I -- you know, Javier and I, I think, do the same thing we play. Javier is fantastic in what he’s doing. He does it his way, that’s why he is done good. I do it my way, too. To draw this comparison -- you know, sometimes people say, “You know, you’ve worked with Polanski and Quentin Tarantino, how are they different?” In every respect, you know. How are they not? They’re two different people. Everything is different. The past, the biography, the origin, the everything, everything is different. So, why would we want to compare?
P: Why James Bond? Why did you want to be in it?
Christoph: Just like Javier. If it’s a good part that you can play, meaning that you like it and you feel you’re right, and then they offer to pay you good money for it, what’s not to like?
Interviewer: What are the key elements for you, what you’re looking for in a movie
Christoph: A really, really dramatic function. Meaning, does it make sense in the story? Is it leading somewhere in the story? So, with Bond and Oberhauser, does Oberhauser give rise to all the Bond-isms that we wanted to meet? You know, but still be, you know, not neglected as a part in itself. But, you know, that’s why it’s called a supporting part. I want certain complexity because caricatures are boring and I don’t think I can do them that well, and I don’t know which came first. And I’m one-dimensional. You know, I have this sort of let’s say, let’s call it, hesitance or resistance against blindly serving the market economy. You know, I want something that is a little more engaging on other levels than just making, you know, the box office explode. Apart from the fact that I don’t think I’d be the one to do that. But, you know -- and then, the people, of course. You know, who wrote it? Who directs it? Who are the other actors? And all of that is important, you know, if it’s a director you always wanted to work with. I said, okay, you know, maybe the part isn’t perfect, but I trust this director and I always wanted to work with him. And then, we’ll try it. Can it go wrong? Absolutely. Where do we learn the most? When something went wrong.
Interviewer: I just want to ask about what are -- what do you think are the features, distinct features of Sam Mendes as a director,
Christoph: Look, Sam Mendes didn’t learn his craft in shooting commercials, you know. He has decades in the theater and he was, you know, one of the major directors in the Royal Shakespeare Company. You know, that’s kind of the stuff that he had to deal with in the past. Not that that in itself is a quality, but the mere fact that you had to occupy your mind with texts like that gets you further into the realm that’s really interesting. And I think he applies that experience. And so, you -- it’s a unique situation. He is really, first and foremost, a theater director. And in the best sense of the word, brings that to the theatrical opulence of a Bond movie. So, it’s great.
P: You like movies with a commercial aspect in them?
Christoph: No, I think we should take advantage of the fact that we do not have to submit to the commercial aspect. That we can talk amongst each other about the interesting stuff. Let the mercantile aspect be taken care of by the ones who pretend to know. They don’t know more than we do, you know, and -- anyway, so I’d just like to approach this with what I’ve got, and if that’s insufficient, I’m sorry but I can’t help it. I don’t have anything else at my disposal. Vintage, I don’t know whether it’s vintage. You know, it has tradition, and anything that has tradition is by definition vintage.