With Tarantino's "Inglorious Basterds," he was catapulted into fame. Two Oscars later, Christoph Waltz is already a fixture in Hollywood. As he now turns 60, he celebrates with more challenging roles.
The strongest boost to his career came thanks to Quentin Tarantino. Christoph Waltz received his first Oscar in 2010 for his interpretation of the cynical Nazi SS officer Hans Landa in Tarantino's "Inglourious Basterds." In his thank you speech, he referred to this triumph as an "über-bingo."
Ever since, top directors have been lining up to work with the Austrian-born actor.
Successful career in Austria, Germany
Christoph Waltz was born 60 years ago, on October 4, 1956, in Vienna. After graduating from high school, Waltz went to the Max Reinhardt Seminar, a reputed acting school in Vienna, followed by the Lee Strasberg Theater in New York. He also studied singing at the Vienna University of Music and Performing Arts.
Before his breakthrough in Hollywood, Christoph Waltz spent decades acting in German-language TV and movie productions. Even then, directors would often cast him in the role of the villain, the criminal or the psychopath who could cleverly hide behind his solid middle-class appearance.
He speaks German, English and French, and has German and Austrian citizenship.
Waltz owes his second Oscar to his interpretation of a German bounty hunter in Tarantino's Western film, "Django Unchained." He starred in Roman Polanski's "Carnage," played in Tim Burton's drama "Big Eyes" and portrayed the head of an international criminal organization in the latest James Bond movie, "Spectre."
The actor has won numerous awards, including best actor in Cannes, the European Actor's Award and a Golden Globe. A star on the Walk of Fame also bears his name.
"The bad guys are always the scariest when they look perfectly normal," he once said in an interview. He prefers to play such characters: "The villain's dramatic function is to first create tensions so that the hero can then overcome them," said Waltz.
He's expressed this sense of storytelling not only in front of the camera; he's also worked as a director on different projects. His directorial debut came in 2000 with the TV film "Wenn man sich traut" (If one dares). He also directed his first opera in 2013 in Antwerp, "Der Rosenkavalier" (The Knight of the Rose), by Richard Strauss.
Waltz lives in London, Berlin and Los Angeles, though he hasn't been working on German productions for a while. It's not that he no longer wants to - he simply hasn't been offered that many interesting roles from Germany, he explains.
He has been trying to overcome his image of a stern and dry person through funny performances in US shows, singing for example a dramatic version of "Sesame Street" or wearing a wig and glitter costume for an act on a show of the duo of magicians Siegfried & Roy.
In 2013, he became the first actor from a German-speaking country to be invited as a guest host for the sketches on "Saturday Night Live." Grabbing the opportunity, Waltz turned into a series of characters, such as Jesus, a retired pope and a game show host.
Obsessed with privacy
Waltz has remarried to a costume designer from Berlin with whom he has a daughter. He also has three other children from his first marriage. Yet he reveals little about them: The actor has often declared how obsessed he is with protecting his privacy.
That is, when he actually has time for a private life. He's otherwise continually busy working. He's just finished the production of "Downsizing" by Alexander Payne and is said to be in talks with director James Cameron for an upcoming adaptation of a manga.