Now that the 2012 Academy Awards are over, Oscar predictions for 2013 are already rolling in. Given the sheer amount of talent associated with Django Unchained, it’s not surprising to see it already receiving Oscar buzz before it has even finished filming. What is surprising was the number of articles I read on major movie websites and blogs predicting that Christoph Waltz will receive an Oscar nomination for Django Unchained because he’s “playing a good Hans Landa.” This notion is so completely and utterly wrong that it deserves it own special rebuttal here.
First, Christoph Waltz himself has stated on several occasions that he’s not going to play Hans Landa-like characters again. From a recent interview where he compares playing Dr. King Schultz in Django Unchained to his work in Inglourious Basterds:
“I’m trying to be very aware of not repeating myself,” Waltz said in the newspaper interview. “It’s a different story, a different character, a different movie. I’ve played that other character. I’m not going to slip it under the door just because it was successful. But I have to be a little careful that I am not going too far the other side – too restrained.”
Next, let’s not forget that Christoph Waltz is a very talented actor, and that Quentin Tarantino is very talented at coaxing memorable performances out his cast. Trotting out old, successful characters, and hoping that success will repeat itself is neither man’s style. Claiming that Mr. Waltz will be playing a “good Hans Landa” in Django Unchained is implying that he can’t play anything but Hans Landa, or that he refuses to leave his comfort zone by playing a different character. This is greatly insulting to Mr. Waltz’s acting abilities. You don’t win Oscars by being a one-trick pony.
People need to adjust their expectations about the Dr. King Schultz character that Mr. Waltz is playing. If you go into the film expecting Hans Landa then you’re going to sorely disappointed. Django Unchained is not Inglourious Basterds: The American South edition. It’s an entirely separate film with entirely separate characters. Let the Dr. King Schultz character stand on its own and let Mr. Waltz’s acting talent shine instead of trying to shoehorn them both into a role from a different movie.