Once upon a time, in Nazi-occupied France … Quentin Tarantino made his masterpiece. Here are 15 behind-the-scenes tidbits to enhance your next viewing of Inglourious Basterds.
1. This isn’t the first Inglourious Basterds.
Tarantino took the title from Enzo Castellari's 1978 Italian war film, The Inglorious Bastards, then added a couple of intentional misspellings.
2. Tarantino originally wanted to call the movie Once Upon a Time in Occupied France.
Ultimately, of course, he settled on Inglourious Basterds and used his first idea as the name of Chapter One in the final film.
3. Tarantino first wrote the script for the 2009 film back in 1998.
But he shelved it to make both volumes of Kill Bill and Death Proof.
4. Jason Mraz played a part in helping Tarantino to finish the script.
Tarantino reportedly listened to the crooner’s song “I’m Yours” on repeat to help calm him down during the writing process.
5. Samuel L. Jackson is heard but not seen in the film.
While he doesn’t appear onscreen, he narrates Hugo Stiglitz’s backstory.
6. Christoph Waltz wasn’t the first choice to play Hans Landa.
Tarantino originally wanted to cast Leonardo DiCaprio .
7. Adam Sandler was originally set to play Donny Donowitz, a.k.a. “The Bear Jew.”
He dropped out to appear in the film Funny People instead.
8. Another German actress was supposed to play Bridget von Hammersmark.
Tarantino wanted Nastassja Kinski to play the role that eventually went to Diane Kruger.
9. The film-within-a-film was directed by Eli Roth.
The director best known for horror films such as Hostel and Cabin Fever also appears in Inglourious Basterds as Donny Donowitz. The faux Nazi propaganda film Nation’s Pride, seen in Chapter Five, lasts just over six minutes and can be seen here.
10. A well-known funnyman was supposed to play Archie Hicox.
Before Michael Fassbender was cast to lead Operation Kino, Tarantino wanted Simon Pegg to play Archie Hicox. Pegg had to drop out to shoot the motion capture for Steven Spielberg’s Tintin, a decision which Pegg said caused him "agony."
11. Michael Fassbender’s language skills were no joke.
Fassbender—whose character must go undercover and speak long scenes of dialogue in fluent German—was born in Germany and German was his first language.
12. Mélanie Laurent became a projectionist to prepare for her part.
She worked in the projection booth at the New Beverly Cinema—an arthouse theater in L.A. owned by Quentin Tarantino—for 10 days prior to filming.
13. The film’s title card is in Tarantino’s handwriting.
It was taken from the cover page of Tarantino’s final draft from July 2008.
14. The film’s promotional materials were censored in Germany.
All of the swastikas had to be removed from the German versions of the film’s posters because portraying Nazi symbols is banned in Germany.
15. Basterds marked the end of a longtime collaboration between Tarantino and editor Sally Menke.
Menke, who had edited all of Tarantino’s movies up to that point, passed away after the film premiered.