Who Will Be The ‘Inglourious Basterds’ Breakout Star?

We might be seeing a lot more of Christoph Waltz, Mélanie Laurent and other newcomers following Tarantino's flick.

The buzzy word on [movieperson id="100683"]Quentin Tarantino’s[/movieperson] blood-soaked, punch-to-the-gut World War II epic [movie id="404229"]“Inglorious Basterds”[/movie] has been that it’s his finest effort since 1994′s “Pulp Fiction.” If that turns out to be the consensus among moviegoers and critics — and we’ll find out Friday, when the film’s Nazi hunters shoot, club and scalp their way into theaters — Tarantino might prove to be the film’s true breakout star, lifting the director from treasured auteur to the truly highest echelon of Hollywood directors.

At the same time, “Basterds” features a diverse cast of foreign and domestic acting talent, some well known — ever heard of that dude Brad Pitt? — and others who are only now coming to the attention of American audiences. Which one of these soldiers, spies and depraved Nazis in occupied France will we be buzzing about on Monday? MTV News caught an early screening of the film, and now we present our top picks for the folks you’ll be talking about in the days and years to come:

Christoph Waltz
He’s an established star in his native Austria and is about to break big Stateside. Waltz plays a stone-cold Nazi colonel, Hans Landa, who fully deserves his nickname: “the Jew hunter.” From the very first scene, Waltz is maddeningly, terrifyingly unforgettable. Don’t take our word for it: He won the best-actor prize at Cannes this year for his “Basterds” role and is already being mentioned as a possible Oscar candidate.

Before the movie even comes out, he might already be set to linger for a while in Tinseltown’s warm embrace. The Hollywood Reporter writes that the actor has turned down a chance to star in a hit German cop show as his agents handle feature-film offers. In his 50s and speaking slightly accented English, Waltz isn’t the most obvious candidate for Hollywood stardom, but he’s surely one of the most deserving.

Mélanie Laurent
Like Waltz, the French-born Laurent is unknown in the States. And in “Basterds,” her Shosanna Dreyfus escapes an attack from Colonel Landa, during which her family is slaughtered. Taking on an assumed identity and running a movie theater in Paris, she ends up mingling with her enemies as part of a long-simmering revenge plot.

In recent years, a number of French actresses — Audrey Tautou in “Amélie,” Marion Cotillard in an Oscar-winning turn in “La Vie en Rose” — have broken into the American mainstream, and Laurent might be the latest Francophile to join their ranks.

Daniel Brühl
First an Austrian, then a French woman, now a Spaniard raised in Germany. Thus Brühl plays a German soldier — a sharpshooting national hero whose bloody deeds become the focus of a Nazi propaganda film that is set to premiere at Dreyfus’ theater. Brühl is young, handsome and manages to communicate a small-town boyishness that makes his character’s actions at once real and horrific.

B.J. Novak
A star of “The Office,” Novak is barely in “Basterds.” He plays one of Pitt’s Nazi-hunting foot soldiers and has maybe four or five lines. Still, it’s a memorable role, and we simply love Novak as egotistical ex-con Ryan on his NBC show. His short stint in “Basterds” proves the guy deserves a shot at a meaty feature-film role.

Check out everything we’ve got on “Inglourious Basterds.”

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