Eli Roth is one of the Inglourious Basterds in the bloody brilliant movie that comes out tomorrow, August 21st! Eli plays Sgt Donny Donowitz aka The Bear Jew and his role will go down in the movie history books, but how that will happen you will have to find out later. Not only is Eli playing the guy who swats off Nazis’ heads with a baseball bat, but the Cabin Fever and Hostel director also directs the film within the film Nation’s Pride and he did a fantastic job with that extra responsibility. That propaganda movie will make you laugh and cringe at that same time in a way only Eli can make it work.
Although Eli has acted before in his own movies and Quentin Tarantino’s Death Proof, this is his first major acting role and you would never know it watching him on the big screen. He is just so believable and funny as The Bear Jew and he told us at The Weinstein Company’s roundtable for the WWII epic that this was the only role for him.
No, the only role for me was “The Bear Jew.” I was like this is it, to be a Jewish guy from Boston that beats Nazis to death with a baseball bat. I have been training for my whole life for that part. There as no other role. That’s what I said to him, “This is it.” I think there are some actors, who feel, no actors in this cast, but other actors he worked with that felt that they were now that I’ve been in a Tarantino movie I can do anything. But for us, this was endgame. This was it. Like the ultimate dream for all of us to be in a Tarantino movie. And we know there is no such thing as a small part in a Tarantino film. You can be Floyd in True Romance or Christopher Walken in Pulp Fiction. Every part is a chance to create a classic cinema moment and everybody is going for it. I felt so lucky. The first table read you look around the room with Christoph Waltz and August Diehl, and all these incredible European actors, Melanie Laurent, you felt G-d this movie is going to be amazing. It’s going to be something so special and so different. It was a thrill to be a part of it.
One thing that wasn’t always a thrill for him was a piece of costume he wore for the role in this period piece . Something BJ Novak said he didn’t have to endure and didn’t know what type of a relationship Eli had had with the costume lady to suffer through that. Well I don’t want to hold you back from scratching your itch any longer here is what it is…
Plus being in wool underwear will make you want to kill anything. I mean we were totally period thing. Even if it wasn’t seen, like the socks, the underwear, wool wife beaters, my G-d you can’t imagine what I smelled like, I smelled like a bear. It was disgusting, but the costume, and Quentin’s like, “yeah, you’re getting a cool leather jacket.
Something that wasn’t disgusting for him is that thing that will land him in movie history and it is a huge spoiler why such an honor will bestow him, so if you want to see what he told us about the change that QT rewrote for him in the middle of filming the movie then SPOILER! SPOILER! SPOILER! SPOILER! SPOILER! SPOILER! SPOILER!
Eli Roth’s character Donny Dononwitz f*cking kills Adolph Hitler, in a way I now understand why he calls it “Kosher Porn”. OMG, he just storms in to that theater booth with guns a blazing and annihilates Hitler. He just stands there and shoots the sh!t out of the worst human being to ever live in the world in such a way you have to high five all the people around you because it was something that was so long overdue and so perfectly played out. Like a grand slam in the bottom of the 9th with 2 outs a man on base with 2 strike and the score is 4-1 them. Thank you to Quentin Tarantino for finally having the balls to do something no one else (well maybe one or two people) has ever done and that is too kill off that MoFo Hitler. And killing of Hitler was something Eli Roth didn’t take lightly.
It was an incredible honor and certainly an honor that I took very seriously. That was actually not originally in the script. That was something that came about as we were shooting. So it was actually it was even more of an honor, in fact. As we were shooting, Quentin adapts to what he likes as things are going on. He was so happy with what I was doing as “The Bear Jew” and seeing me were beating reaction. He just loved the scene where I was kicking ass. …and he over Christmas he rewrote it. He’s like were making a little change, and I read it and it was like Donny kicks open the door and shoots Hitler in the face and I am like…woo hoo. I was so happy. I was like it it’s amazing. I’m going to be, you know, the new Moses. But I have to say, as much as a thrill it is to watch, it was really far more difficult than I even anticipated shooting the scenes.
But watching the movie he made it look so easy! Even though he made it look simple Omar Doom, who is perfect as the Chico to his Harpo, and him both nearly died filming this scene.
So it was hard but that scene, we almost got killed. That scene Quentin doesn’t like to use CGI, and he wants everything to be authentic. So he had this fire and they had done numerous tests with the fire. There was a special set where they rebuilt the theater with this controlled fire. Well the fire they estimated, it was going to burn, they did temperature readings, it was going to get up 400 degrees centigrade. And the flags caught fire, they’ve never burned all the stuff, and they never tested with all the stuff and all the props, all the flags caught fire and it will never get closer that this. And the fire was, it got up to 1,200 degrees centigrade, which is 2,000 Fahrenheit. And you see me on camera, ugh, and I got singed and we had on flame retardant clothing under our costumes and covered in fire gel and there were two people in fire suits with extinguishers below us. And then Quentin on a crane in a fire suit, but he had me and Omar firing machine guns, our hands just start burning. It was 2.000 digress. It was horrible. I never experienced pain like that. And I’d never been in a fire, I had no frame of reference what that was like. And after, finally, I had done so many thousands of crip reloads and weapons changing that I was like on a adrenaline kicked in and I was like on autopilot and just like possessed and just shooting, we’ve got to do this. Like if we die doing this shot, we have to do this. And finally they yell cut and they went and we just. I remember we went down and there was a playback in a tent. Which was rare, we almost never have playback and I watched the shot. And I just watched the shot and poof. I passed out and when I woke up, I had like ice all over me and aloe. It was zero degrees out and we’re in this tent with our arms in these buckets of ice and rags and Quentin said he looked over and said, “that was bad as bad he’s ever felt.” I was happy, and now if any actor complains on any of my set, I’ll be like, well, I don’t know what to tell you cause I was in a 2,000 degree fire. You know what the shot looked great, that’s all that matters.
The shot looked better than great, just like the movie did and just like Eli Roth’s superb acting! Seriously you will be blown away, like the theater, when you see how amazing he is as Donny Donowitz in Inglourious Basterds when it comes out tomorrow!!! I am kind of afraid we are going to lose this innovative writer/director to acting after his amazing work in IB.