[movieperson id=”318366″]Eli Roth[/movieperson] and Omar Doom were engulfed in flames, but they couldn’t go anywhere. [movieperson id=”100683″]Quentin Tarantino[/movieperson] hovered high above them behind the camera, on a crane, outfitted in a flame-retardant suit. The actors had been told they’d be OK, that two tests had already been safely run. They were slathered in protective gel and crew members were poised to extinguish — or attempt to extinguish — the fire if it leapt onto their bodies. Yet the temperature reached 1,000 degrees Celsius and their faces and hands began to burn. The blaze had suddenly raged out of control and there was nothing to do but solider on. There could be only one take of the scene and there was no turning back on the German set of [movie id=”404229″]”Inglourious Basterds.”[/movie]
“If we’d been there another 10 seconds, they said the ceiling would have collapsed on us,” Roth told MTV News from the relative safety of the Cannes International Film Festival, where the cast had assembled to promote the film.
That sort of brush with death was exactly what Tarantino was after for a film that follows a group of Jewish-American soldiers engaged in an über-violent revenge plot in Nazi-occupied France. “Quentin does not want anything CG in this movie,” said Roth, who plays Sgt. Donnie Donowitz. “It’s all got to be organic.”
The death squad is led by Brad Pitt’s southern badass Lieutenant Aldo Raine, who has gathered his Basterds together in a quest to bring down the occupation and collect as many Nazi scalps as possible along the way. But Roth’s character isn’t interested in peeling away flesh — his brand of sadistic retribution is a uniquely American one.
“I’m from Boston, and having a baseball bat with you at all times is a very Boston thing,” explained Roth. “Now the baseball bat is most commonly used off the field. It’s the kind of thing you use in a traffic situation, like when someone honks at you. You pull the bat out of the back of your car and be like, ’What’s that? What’d you say, guy?’
“So my character takes his bat and he goes around to every Jew in his neighborhood and gets them to all sign the name of someone they’re worried about in Europe,” Roth, the director of horror films like “Hostel,” continued. “He takes that bat with all the signatures over to Europe and he beats every Nazi he finds to death with it. He doesn’t want to shoot them. He’s not scalping them. He wants to physically pummel them to death.”
The ensemble cast includes [movieperson id=”45511″]Mike Myers[/movieperson] as a British general, [movieperson id=”398134″]B.J. Novak[/movieperson] (“The Office”) and Doom (“Death Proof”) as eager Nazi killers and [movieperson id=”315951″]Diane Kruger[/movieperson] (“National Treasure”) as a German double-agent. Tarantino will also be making a stealthy cameo, Roth confirmed for us.
“You have to look very, very closely for this one,” he said. “There’s no way in hell I’m giving away where it is.”
Will the vampires grab more trophies than the slumdog? What was the year’s ultimate onscreen WTF moment? It’s up to you to decide the winners of the 2009 MTV Movie Awards. Vote now, and tune in on May 31 at 9 p.m. ET, when the big show airs live from the Gibson Amphitheatre in Universal City, California.
Check out everything we’ve got on “Inglourious Basterds.”
For breaking news, celebrity columns, humor and more — updated around the clock — visit MTVMoviesBlog.com.