LOS ANGELES: For nearly three decades, Austrian-born Christoph Waltz was a jobbing actor in Europe. He finally came to Hollywood in 2009, and in the next four years he won two Oscars.
On December 1 he will receive his star on the storied Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Not bad for a boy from Vienna.
But despite his evident success, the 58-year-old insists life is no simpler now he’s on the Tinseltown A-list.
“This is a fight … life isn’t easier now with two Oscars,” he told AFP in an interview, while promoting his latest film “Horrible Bosses 2,” out next Wednesday.
Cultivated, attentive, and with a piercing gaze, Waltz is nonetheless enjoying the fruits of his success.
His career began in 1979 in his native Austria, after catching the acting bug from his parents: his mother Elisabeth was a costume designer and father Johannes a stage builder.
His grandparents had been actors, and he followed them by studying at the Max Reinhart Seminar at the University of Music and Performing Arts in Vienna, followed by the celebrated Lee Strasberg institute in New York.
His small-screen debut was in TV movies and German-language series like “Tanz Mit Dem Teufel” (“Dance with the Devil”) or “Feuer und Schwert” (“Fire and Sword”) based on the legend of Tristan and Isolde.
Over the following years he combined work in film, TV and theater. “I really was constantly moving from countries, places, mentalities, languages,” he said. “You move out as a young man, you conquer this and conquer that.”
Conscious that the German language was limiting his range, he decided to leave for London and Paris, where he said he “discovered tourism of a very, very high level.”
“I discovered the place to live really is where you do what you do, with the people you like to do it with. And this place is here, of course,” he said, speaking in Hollywood.
His most important new friend in Hollywood was Quentin Tarantino, the director of “unorthodox methods of navigation” as Waltz describes him.
The “Reservoir Dogs” and “Pulp Fiction” filmmaker gave Waltz the “gift” of his two most famous roles so far: Colonel Hans Landa in “Inglourious Basterds” (2009) and doctor King Schultz in “Django Unchained” (2012).
In both cases he won the Oscar and Golden Globe for best supporting actor, prizes which catapulted him into the Hollywood stratosphere.
Winning the prizes “is an honor, it’s flattering, and a wonderful thing to be awarded,” he said. “But yet you have to keep doing what you do, and try to do it well. Keep fighting for getting good roles.
“That’s all it is about,” he added.
He added that he keeps his golden statuettes in a corner. “If you don’t put it somewhere and leave it there, if you always carry it in front of you, you will end having a problem,” he said.
Since “Inglourious Basterds,” he has appeared notably in “Carnage” by Roman Polanski and “The Green Hornet” by Michel Gondry (both in 2011), and given his voice to animated films “Epic” (2013) and this year’s “Muppets Most Wanted.”
He will soon be seen in Tim Burton’s new movie, “Big Eyes.”
Today he is promoting the comedy “Horrible Bosses 2” with Jennifer Aniston. He plays Bert Hanson, a businessman at odds with trio Kurt (Jason Sudeikis), Nick (Jason Bateman) and Dale (Charlie Day).
Of comedy, he quips: “As long as you take it seriously, you can do it.”
“But in a movie, because comedy is so much timing and rhythm, all of that is most established in editing.
“I can say a complete straight sentence, just neutral and straight, and a good editor can turn it into a funny or sad thing. Because that’s the beauty of movies, nothing works in itself.”
Over his long career Waltz said he has had some horrible bosses himself. “I had more than horrible, abusive, degrading, really brutal, bad directors,” he said.
But he added: “Now it would be different because I would tell them to get lost.”