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Inglorious Bastards actor Christoph Waltz to play legendary Hollywood director Billy Wilder in coming-of-age tale, Stephen Frears to direct the picture

The film is based on Jonathan Coe's 2020 book Mr. Wilder & Me which blends historical fact and fiction 

  • Swaroop Kodur

Last Updated: 06.13 AM, Jun 07, 2022

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Inglorious Bastards actor Christoph Waltz to play legendary Hollywood director Billy Wilder in coming-of-age tale, Stephen Frears to direct the picture
(L) Christoph Waltz and filmmaker Billy Wilder

German-Austrian actor Christoph Waltz, known for films like Django Unchained and Spectre, will portray legendary Hollywood director Billy Wilder on screen. British director Stephen Frears will direct the picture with Christopher Hampton adapting the script from Jonathan Coe's 2020 book Mr. Wilder & Me. This will be Frears' fourth collaboration with playwright and screenwriter Christopher Hampton (Able's Will, Dangerous Liaisons, and Mary Reilly) with Christoph Waltz working for the first time with the duo, and the film is slated to soon go on floors with Greece, Munich, and Paris as the main shooting locations.

Jonathan Coe's book Mr. Wilder & Me is a coming-of-age tale that's also part true-to-life portrait of Billy Wilder, thus blending fact and fiction in an endearing tale. Set in 1977 during the filming of Wilder's Fedora, the story follows an innocent woman who joins the master filmmaker and his screenwriter I.A.L Diamond on a Greek Island. The story also utilizes Billy Wilder's personal traumatic experiences during the holocaust which he recounts in the narrative. Al Pacino, William Holden, and many other real-life characters show up in the book and it would interesting to learn the casting choices for the same in the film adaptation.

Born Samuel Wilder to a family of Polish Jews, Billy Wilder began his filmmaking journey in the late 1920s as a screenwriter of German films. He would move to Hollywood sometime in the '30s following the rise of Adolf Hitler's menace in Europe and soon find critical acclaim with films like Double Indemnity and The Lost Weekend. It was in the subsequent decade of the '50s that Wilder grew in further prominence and deliver many back-to-back hits like Sunset Boulevard, Ace in the Hole, Sabrina, Some Like it Hot, and The Apartment. Fedora, the subject of the upcoming film starring Christoph Waltz is his second last film - he received the American Film Institute Life Achievement Award in 1986. 

Christoph Waltz, on the other hand, began his acting career in 1979 and featured in many German films until Quentin Tarantino's 2009 film Inglorious Basterds introduced him to the global audience. His role as the antagonist Colonel Hans Landa fetched him his first Oscar award in the Best Supporting Actor category and played a German bounty hunter, King Schultz, in Tarantino's 2012 western Django Unchained to go on to win his second academy award. His other major roles include Ernst Stavro Blofeld, James Bond's half-brother, in the films Spectre and No Time to Die.

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