Christoph Waltz has had an amazing career in Hollywood, and one that has really only been around for the past five years, after Quentin Tarantino cast him as the heavy in his World War II fantasia "Inglourious Basterds." That performance, as a Nazi enforcer colloquially known as The Jew Hunter, won the actor, who had previously only been known for his work on European television and theater, an Oscar, and just a few years later, Tarantino cast him as a character that was the complete opposite -- a kindly German bounty hunter in "Django Unchained." Miraculously, he won another Oscar.

In the years since "Inglourious Basterds," Waltz has worked with an amazing array of directors, including but not limited to Roman Polanski, Michel Gondry, Francis Lawrence, and Terry Gilliam. The newest amazing filmmaker to make Waltz's acquaintance is Tim Burton, who directed the actor in "Big Eyes," the true-life story of Margaret (Amy Adams) and Walter Keane, a pair of artists who popularized a series of mass-produced paintings that featured waifs with huge, haunting eyes. Walter claimed to have been solely responsible for the work, even though his wife was responsible for the waifs. It escalated into a truly outrageous trial that ended with the husband and wife having to perform a "paint off." You can't make this stuff up.

We sat down with Waltz and talked about what brought him to the project, what his favorite Tim Burton movie is, and who his character in "Spectre" really is.

Moviefone: How did you first come to this project?

Tim Burton: I had met Tim independently of this and then was approached and they sent me a script and I went and met and we had a long conversation about kitchen art. And that's what did it. It kind of showed how redundant that consideration is in respect to a story.

Had you wanted to work with him for a while?

Of course.

What is your favorite Tim Burton movie?

My favorite Tim Burton movie is "Big Fish."




Because of the story. I'm into story. I'm into aesthetics but I'm not so much into the aesthetic approach. Style, to me, is interesting as a direct consequence of content. And the style itself is not so fascinating to me. Stylish movies that are not more than that, I don't care about.

Tim is known as a stylist first and foremost.

Exactly. So with Tim's movies, the style is always a consequence of something. And that's how I think it should be.

It seems that everybody who works with Tim wants to be inducted as part of his troupe of actors. Would you want to come back?

It has to be right. It's nice to be part of a group but it needs to be right. You have to have a proper place. And just to be in the group for group dynamic's sake is, to me, I find it extremely frustrating.

Did you read Walter's autobiography?

I read the whole thing. It's unbearable. It's purely narcissistic, delusional ramblings, wild, all over the place, accusatory, no insight whatsoever, no proper perspective, inept at best in terms of observing human beings and literarily pitiful.

Your character has this wonderful exuberance that starts out very naïve and then turns somewhat darker. Was that fun to play?

Those are the jobs that you're trying to get -- to really have a story going on in, not only the whole, but within your character. Like in a life. As Hitchcock said, "You take a life and you remove the boring bits."

From your standpoint was there any artistic validation in what he was doing or was he a complete monster?

Nobody's a complete monster. I mean, maybe there is the odd creature who is a complete monster. But that's not interesting. Maybe for a criminal judge that's interesting, but for a storyteller or an actor, that's not interesting. He was just a guy trying to make headway at first. I'm sure, at first, it was a lovely relationship. He saved her from hardship and he didn't do it as a sacrifice or a Samaritan charity. He did it because he liked her. I think it was very straightforward. Success complicated it, I think.

What was it like working with Amy? Your character is so bold and her character is so subdued...

But she's so wonderful. She's so wonderfully detailed and fine and precise and imaginative and so with it, without grand gestures and grandiose adieu. It's absolutely lovely. It's very much to-the-point. And working with her too -- you can try anything and you don't have to negotiate whether she would consider doing it. If it works, it works. How do you determine that? You do it. If it doesn't work, you drop it. She's not constantly considering her career with everything she does. She's an actress!

You're obviously not in Colorado right now. Was there ever a point when you were going to be in "The Hateful Eight"?

No. Unfortunately, there's no part in it for me. Like I said, a group in and of itself... You know, groupies are groupies. That's their function. But since I'm not a groupie, I have to have something to do in the group. And if I don't have anything to do in the group, hey...

But you and Tarantino are still close? I was worried.

No no no -- on the contrary. That's part of a decent friendship -- that you understand. It wouldn't have made sense. That's not a friend.

I don't know how much you can tell me about your next project, the James Bond movie...

I can tell you everything!

Can you say who you are? For real?

Franz Oberhauser. It's true. It really is true. I'm not another character. It's fun though, that everyone is coming with this great expectation and I get to say, "No."

You're entering into this amazing franchise. Did you watch the Bond movies as a child?

Oh, yeah.

So this is a big deal for you?

Oh, it's a big deal for anyone. It's funny because, in a way, it's like the theater and you're in a repertory company, like I was for many years, and there are these icons of the theatrical literature. Because German-speaking repertory theater does a lot of the canon and very few new plays, there are the roles that the senior actor in the company gets to play King Lear eventually. Like all the clichés we know from Britain, they are true in Austria and Germany as well. So when you hear such-and-such is playing Hamlet, it's like "Oh, he's finally getting his Hamlet." So it's a little bit like that, on the globalized level, with the Bond movie, wouldn't you say? I hope I can do justice to it.

What's Sam Mendes's take on the material?

Sam's take is interesting because he is a theater director and, speaking of Shakespeare, he's probably done them all. So there is a very specific way of approaching that story.

Is Bond going to offer you the same kind of challenges "Big Eyes" did?

No, I would say completely different. There's always a challenge and even if it is only that you don't see it. That's one of the biggest ones. "Big Eyes" was, speaking of very classical acting jobs, a very classical acting job for me. It afforded real consideration and thinking of how to do justice to that story and not be pulled by all the centrifugal forces -- it was really proper work with Tim on a drama. The baddie in Bond doesn't really have that much.

Are you excited for little kids to come up and recognize you? I know you were going to do "Muppets."

I did!

But you were going to have a much bigger part.

I was supposed to be in a much bigger role but they couldn't, for whatever reason. Let me tell you, working with Muppets is almost as good as working with Amy. Not quite but almost. But for the same reason -- there is no ego that comes into play. You talk to the Muppet, really like a person. You don't have to consider sensitivities. It's almost as good as working Amy.

You've done Muppets, you're about to do Bond, is there something else that you really want to do?

I don't know. Maybe in a few years, a retired superhero would be nice. Not yet. I'm sort of in between.
categories Interviews, Movies