Christoph Waltz made his acting debut in his home country of Austria, where he primarily worked in theater. It wasn’t until his role in Inglorious Bastards that American film opened up for the talented actor. Since then, Waltz has appeared in many popular films. He is perhaps best known for his roles in two of director Quentin Tarantino’s films: Django Unchained and Inglorious Bastards. In most of his roles, Waltz is an extreme killer or leader, making him a deadly character character in the film. It seems this type of character is a favorite of Waltz as he has also played a villain within the James Bond movie franchise and in the 2011 film, Water for Elephants. While his character in Django Unchained is more mellowed, he is still a bounty hunter.
In his next role, Waltz looks to add biopic to his filmography, as he is set to star as the titular character in Billy Wilder and Me. Variety reports on the official announcement of the actor’s attachment to the film, which won’t start production until 2023. Until then, here is a handful of his best movies, ranked.
7 Water for Elephants
Water for Elephants stars a younger Reese Witherspoon, Robert Pattinson, and Waltz among its main cast. The film is based on a novel by Sara Gruen and follows a former veterinary student who takes a job in a traveling circus where he falls in love with the ringmaster’s wife. The ringmaster is none other than Waltz, and true to his villainous character theme, the ringmaster is possessive towards his wife.
Between a doomed and in-debt circus and a newly acquired elephant, Jacob (Pattinson) has to help restore the circus to its former glory all the while keeping his affair secret from the bad-tempered ringmaster. The film is set in the 1930s which helps add to its Old Hollywood theme. While the main story is a love story, it always helps when the antagonist’s role is performed as well as Waltz did as the ringmaster.
6 Alita: Battle Angel
Alita: Battle Angel is a sci-fi action adventure film about revived, deactivated cyborg Alita. In this movie, Waltz plays Dr. Ido, who found and restored Alita when he was out searching for cyborg parts. dr. Ido thinks that Alita is the one who can break the cycle of destruction left behind by the Tiphares. When Alita learns that Dr. Ido is also a warrior, she decides to become one herself as a way to learn more about who she is and where she came from.
The 2019 film was highly rated, and still is a few years later, though a sequel has yet to be announced. The film has resurfaced in the last few months as Robert Rodriguez, Rosa Salazar, and Waltz have all expressed high interest in a sequel, as outlined by CinemaBlend. While nothing has voted yet, fans can continue to hope.
When Waltz was announced to have joined the long list of James Bond villains, fans could not be more excited to see what was in store for the great actor. In Spectreand briefly in No Time to Die, Waltz plays Ernst Stavro Blofeld, a criminal mastermind who, naturally, wants world domination. While fans were excited to see another villainous role added to Waltz’s filmography, the actor admitted he thought his role was not his best performance. In an article with The Times, Waltz says that it was an incredible opportunity but that he felt there were some loose ends.
Spectre is the fourth film that stars Daniel Craig as the iconic James Bond. In this film, Bond is sent on a trail to uncover the existence of a sinister organization named SPECTRE, which is led by Waltz’s Blofeld. During his hunt to learn more about the organization, Bond uncovers more secrets than he bargains for and reunites him with past nemeses.
4 Big Eyes
Big Eyes combines the talents of Waltz, Amy Adams, Danny Huston, and Krysten Ritter in a crime biopic on the painter Margaret Keane (Adams). The film follows the success of the painter from the 1950s and into the 1960s when her life takes a turn. Keane met and fell in love with a fellow painter Walter Keane (Waltz) and is quickly married, but what starts as a love story strays into legal difficulties when her husband tries to claim credit for her work. Walter reaps the benefits of his wife’s paintings of children with big eyes while Margaret is holed up at home, painting.
It isn’t until Marget leaves and escapes to Hawaii that she gains the confidence to pursue legal action against he estranged husband and stand up for herself. The film is directed by Tim Burton, though it is not your typical Burton-esque film. With a more serious tone that touches on domestic abuse and denigration, the film is a nice change from the usual dark sense comic film style of the director.
carnage is a 2011 comedy that brings out the comedic side of Waltz. The stellar cast includes Waltz, Jodie Foster, Kate Winslet, and John C. Reilly, all of whom star as two sets of parents of feuding children. When two 11-year-old boys start fighting, their parents meet to amicably discuss a solution to their fights. What starts off as well-wishes turns into a battle between who raises their children better.
This light-hearted comedic film is from infamous actor/director Roman Polanski and showcases a rarely-seen comedic side of the usual villain character of Waltz. It’s a dark comedy that is both fun to watch and easy to love. With funny one-liners and character chemistry, the film should definitely be added to your watchlist.
2 Inglourious Basterds
It’s World War II in a Nazi-occupied France. Enter Colonel Hans Landa (Waltz) a sadistic SS leader tasked with finding any Jews who are in hiding. On the other side of the world, a group of US Soldiers, nicknamed the Basterds, are formed and sent to France with one goal in mind: to kill Nazis. Meanwhile, in France, a Jewish refugee who owns a cinema is reunited with her enemy, the man who killed her family, Hans Landa. The two are reunited when an upcoming Nazi hero soldier is set to star in a film about his heroics. He falls for Emmanuelle Mimieux, also known as Shosanna, and pushes for his film to debut at her cinema. When word gets out that Hitler will be in attendance, the Basterds, Hans Landa, and Emmanuelle all find themselves under one roof.
True to style for Tarantino, Inglourious Basterds is told in parts with only the ending bringing together the main characters from each storyline. It is both a comedy and action film also making it true to Tarantino’s style. Waltz’s portrayal of Hans Landa will forever go down as one of his best performances ever.
1 Django Unchained
Tarantino must have loved Waltz as he asked him back only three years later for Django Unchained. waltz stars as dr. King Schultz, a dentist turned bounty hunter. At the beginning of the film, he frees Django, played by Jamie Foxx, and the two end up working together with Dr. Schultz acting as an almost-mentor for Django in the art of bounty hunting
Waltz’s portrayal of his two characters within Tarantino movies is often pitted against each other over which was his best. We opted to list his performance in Django Unchained ahead of Inglourious Basterds for the softer side mixed with bounty hunting that he gets to portray in this film. Regardless of which one you prefer, Waltz did win an Oscar for both portrayals.