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Christoph Waltz is an Austrian actor from Vienna who has been cast in a as Ernst Stavro Blofeld alongside Daniel Craig in the film Spectre (2015). Waltz also played a German spy in the 1989 Goldeneye TV movie.
He is best known for his works with American filmmaker Quentin Tarantino, receiving acclaim for portraying SS-Standartenführer Hans Landa in Inglourious Basterds (2009) and bounty hunter Dr. King Schultz in Django Unchained (2012). For each performance, he won an Academy Award, a BAFTA Award, and a Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor. Additionally, he received the Best Actor Award at the Cannes Film Festival and a Screen Actors Guild Award for his portrayal of Landa.
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Waltz was born in Vienna, the son of German-born Johannes Waltz and Austrian-born Elisabeth Urbancic, set and costume designers. His maternal grandfather, Rudolf von Urban, was a psychiatrist and psychologist who wrote the book Sex Perfection and Marital Happiness. His maternal grandmother was Burgtheater actress Maria Mayen, and his step-grandfather was actor Emmerich Reimers. His great-grandparents also worked in theatre.
Waltz studied acting at the Max Reinhardt Seminar in Vienna. He also attended the Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute in New York. He started as a stage actor, performing at venues such as Zurich's Schauspielhaus Zürich, Vienna's Burgtheater, and theSalzburg Festival. He became a prolific television actor in the years 1980 to 2000. In 2000, he made his directorial debut, with the German television production Wenn man sich traut. Before coming to the attention of a larger audience in Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds he had played Dr. Hans-Joachim Dorfmann in the British TV series The Gravy Train in 1990. The show is a story of intrigue and misdeeds set in the offices of the European Union in Brussels.
In Quentin Tarantino's 2009 film Inglourious Basterds, Waltz portrayed SS-Standartenführer Hans Landa, aka "The Jew Hunter". Clever, courteous, and multilingual, but also self-serving, cunning, implacable, and murderous, the character of Landa was such that Tarantino feared he "might have written a part that was un-playable". Waltz received the Best Actor Award for the performance at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival and received acclaim from critics and the public. In 2009, he began sweeping critics' awards circuits, receiving awards for Best Supporting Actor from the New York Film Critics Circle, the Boston Society of Film Critics, Los Angeles Film Critics Association, and for Best Supporting Actor at the 67th Golden Globe Awards and the 16th Screen Actors Guild Awards in January 2009.
The following year, he won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor and won the BAFTA for Best Supporting Actor. He is, as of 2013, the only actor to win an Academy Award for appearing in a Tarantino film. Tarantino acknowledged the importance of Waltz to his film by stating: "I think that Landa is one of the best characters I've ever written and ever will write, and Christoph played it to a tee. It's true that if I couldn't have found someone as good as Christoph I might not have made Inglourious Basterds".
Waltz played gangster Benjamin Chudnofsky in The Green Hornet (2011); that same year, he starred in Water for Elephants and Roman Polanski's Carnage. He played German bounty hunter Dr. King Schultz in Quentin Tarantino's Django Unchained. During a training accident prior to filming, Waltz injured his pelvis. His role garnered him awards acclaim once again, with Waltz winning the Golden Globe, the BAFTA, and ultimately the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. His Oscar victory made him one of only three actors to win two Oscars for a supporting role under the direction of the same person (Walter Brennan and Dianne Wiest are the other two).
Waltz has been cast as the former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, in the movie Reykjavik, based on the 1986 peace talks between the United States and USSR. In April 2013, he was selected as a member of the main competition jury at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival. In late 2013, he directed a production of the opera Der Rosenkavalier at the Vlaamse Opera in Antwerp, Belgium. In 2014, he was selected as a member of the jury for the 64th Berlin International Film Festival. He will star in Tim Burton's Big Eyes, which will open on Christmas Day 2014, and as the villain the 24th film in the James Bond franchise.
Waltz and his wife, Judith Holste at the 82nd Academy Awards in March 2010
Waltz has three children with his first wife. He is raising a daughter (b. 2005) with his wife, costume designer Judith Holste. They divide their time between Berlin, London, and Los Angeles.
Waltz is fluent in German (his native language), English, and French, and speaks all three in Inglourious Basterds and Django Unchained. Although his character in Inglourious Basterds also spoke Italian, Waltz stated on the Adam Carolla Podcast that he does not speak it fluently. He is his own voice actor for both the French and German dubs of each film.
Waltz was born in Vienna to a German father who applied for him to become a German citizen after his birth.He received Austrian citizenship in 2010, thus holding citizenships of both Austria and Germany, but considers his German passport a "legal, citizenship law banality". Asked whether he felt Viennese, he responded: "I was born in Vienna, grew up in Vienna, went to school in Vienna, graduated in Vienna, studied in Vienna, started acting in Vienna – and there would be a few further Viennese links. How much more Austrian do you want it?"