Quentin Tarantino has named what he believes to be the best character he ever created. Speaking last Friday at the Jerusalem Film Festival, Tarantino shared his belief of who is the best creation from any of his eight feature films. There are times when you watch a film and you see a performance so spectacular that you know that person is going to win an Oscar. Phillip Seymour Hoffman as Capote, Daniel Day Lewis as Daniel Plainview in There Will be Blood, and Heath Ledger as the Joker in The Dark Knight are a few that come to mind. In my moviegoing history never was this more clear than watching the amazing breakthrough performance of Christoph Waltz as Nazi Colonel Hans Landa in Quentin Tarantino’s Inglorious Bastards. The director agrees.
“Landa is the best character I’ve ever written and maybe the best I ever will write. 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.” – Quentin Tarantino
However, he is not calling for praise on himself and admits that the character as written wouldn’t have worked without the right actor being cast to portray him.
“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.” – Quentin Tarantino
Waltz plays Landa “The Jew Hunter” with an entrancing realism. Tarantino felt it was almost impossible to replicate. Waltz became the only actor ever to win a performance Oscar in a Tarantino film. He was hitting home runs from the opening sequence:
If Landa is the best character Tarantino has ever written, and I believe he is, let’s take a look at a few characters that would have just missed the cut:
Beatrix Kiddo (Uma Thurman) – Kill Bill
A one-track motive of revenge drives Beatrix Kiddo (The Bride) to slice her way through anything and everything in Tarantino’s 2003 film Kill Bill: Vol.1 and 2004’s Kill Bill: Vol.2. The former member of the Deadly Viper Assassin Squad overcomes insurmountable odds to avenge the death of her daughter and her attempted murder by the squad’s leader, Bill, and the other members who betrayed her. Uma Thurman plays Kiddo with a serene and business-like quality, exuding an idea that the events of her past have changed her purpose but will never change who she is.
Mr. Orange (Tim Roth) – Reservoir Dogs
When a simple heist goes very wrong, Reservoir Dogs turns from a whodunit to a “who stopped us from doing it”. Mr. Orange had been shot during the robbery and spends most of the film withering in pain as he lay dying on the floor. As he tries to conceal his identity, he falls deeper and deeper into the criminal world, killing a civilian and being party to many illegal activities. His character comes to an end in the film’s final dramatic scene where he tells Mr. White, the man who allowed him into the criminal gang, that he is a cop -knowing it will be the end of him. Tim Roth, a Tarantino favorite, plays Mr. Orange and helps to make him one of the best Tarantino has created.
Vincent Vega (John Travolta) – Pulp Fiction
Vincent Vega is a hit man working for crime boss Marsellus Wallace in Pulp Fiction with his partner Jules Winnfield (Samuel L Jackson). When we are introduced to his character, he is talking to Jules about Europe and how different it is, a conversation that includes the famous “Royale with cheese” discussion. The character is played with “cool” being his most important trait which encourages an indifference to anything else. One of the strangest things about Vega is that things always go bad when he is on the toilet, including his untimely death. This role marked Travolta’s return to A-list Hollywood but he was hardly Tarantino’s first choice; he campaigned for Daniel Day-Lewis and then wanted Michael Madsen, who was unavailable due to a commitment to the film Wyatt Earp.
Others Characters Considered: