With a $37.6 million opening weekend, the spaghetti Western-flecked World War II epic “Inglourious Basterds” has become the biggest box-office debut of Quentin Tarantino’s career. But it almost turned out to be quite a different movie, and if it had, there’s no telling how “Basterds” would have fared.
Tarantino’s original wish list of actors showed a distinctly different set of priorities in everything from name recognition to country of origin. In the role of vicious Nazi Col. Hans Landa, Austrian actor Christoph Waltz won the best-actor award at Cannes and is on the short list to nab an Oscar nod. The part, however, almost went to someone with just a slightly bigger Stateside profile: Leonardo DiCaprio. The three-time Oscar nominee was said to be Tarantino’s first choice to play Landa, though the director then reconsidered and decided Landa should be played by a German-speaking actor.
For the part of bat-wielding Nazi hunter Sgt. Donny Donowitz, Tarantino was rumored to be considering another Hollywood A-lister: Adam Sandler. The comedian might seem like an odd choice to play such a serious — and seriously violent — role, but Sandler played both serious and hair-trigger violent to considerable acclaim in 2002’s “Punch-Drunk Love.” Sandler committed to “Funny People” instead (which performed considerably worse in its opening earlier this summer), and horror director Eli Roth took on the Donowitz role.
Two English actors — Simon Pegg and Tim Roth — were both said to be considered for the part of British solider Lt. Archie Hicox.
“I love [Quentin] to bits,” Tim Roth told MTV News in 2007. “If he ever does it, of course, I’d like to be in it. It’s entirely up to him. It would be fun to be in a big Second World War movie. My dad was in that war.”
But time passed, the project continued to gestate, and scheduling conflicts popped up. In the end Michael Fassbender became Hicox. Meanwhile, the role of German film star and Allied spy Bridget von Hammersmark was originally intended to go to German actress Nastassja Kinski. Instead, Diane Kruger, the star of two “National Treasure” flicks, signed on.
Check out everything we’ve got on “Inglourious Basterds.”
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