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"Donnie Donowitz is a guy from Boston, and he's a huge Red Sox baseball fan — and his plan is to take a baseball bat and get all the Jews in the neighborhood to sign it, and then he's going to beat every Nazi to death with it," grinned the "Hostel" director when he stopped by our studio recently, discussing the World War II-set film that has Roth playing Donowitz in his acting debut. "Any Nazi he can find he's going to beat to death with the bat."
The next writing/directing effort from Tarantino, "Basterds" is the men-on-a-mission flick that he slaved away on for more than a decade before cameras finally rolled. Roth's eclectic cast of comrades includes
"Brad Pitt is the lieutenant and I'm his sergeant, and we put together this team of Jews to go undercover in France and terrorize the Nazis," Roth said of the flick, which was recently honored by being selected to screen at the Cannes Film Festival. "We joked about the line in 'Knocked Up' where they go, ' "Munich" [is about] Jews kicking ass.' Quentin was like, 'No, no, no. This is the movie they were talking about in "Knocked Up"! This is Jews kicking ass.' ... This movie has the intensity of 'Reservoir Dogs,' the style of 'Pulp Fiction,' the violence of 'Kill Bill,' the adrenaline of 'Death Proof' and the characters of 'Jackie Brown.' It's really the greatest of Quentin's talents, all culminating in this film."
And, as you can see in the flick's trailer, Brad Pitt demands two essential things from his delightfully dirty soldiers: that they strike fear in the hearts of the German troops and that they bring him back hair.
"There are a lot of scalpings," Roth grinned wickedly. "He's not going to skimp on the scalping, let me tell you. Quentin based what the Basterds do on what the Apache Indians did. They would do what's known now as the Apache Resistance, where they would capture people and horribly mutilate them, scalp them, torture them, cut them up and leave one person alive. Then, [the survivor] would go back to the cavalry and describe what happened — and the psychological warfare got so strong that if the cavalry came across a bunch of Apache Indians, they would just take their guns and shoot themselves in the heads and shoot each other in the heads because of the horror of what had been described to them. ... This is what the Jews are doing to the Nazis. We get these Nazis and we scalp them, and we beat them to death with a baseball bat."
And to Roth, a Jewish filmmaker from Boston with a well-known taste for blood, there couldn't have been a more welcoming environment to make his acting debut (after small cameos in various films over the years). "What's funny is I expected [Tarantino] to cast a bunch of big dudes. I thought I'd be the smallest guy," Roth marveled. "Instead, he basically cast my Hebrew school class. I looked around, and I was like, 'These are the kids who were in my bunk at Camp Cedar Lake.' It's them going on a killing spree — and that's what makes it so much fun."
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Check out everything we've got on "Inglourious Basterds."
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