In director Julius Avery's Overlord, actor Pilou Asbaek plays a real mean sonofabitch. He plays Commander Wafner, a Nazi who takes particular pleasure in targeting the movie's heroes. It makes for a fun performance, and if you're paying close attention, you may notice the specific nods he includes to one of the most famous Nazi characters of the modern era:
I looked at the scenes that I'm a part of in the script, and I felt that we could build a fun, cool... playing with the idea of a Nazi cliche for this film. The leather jacket is an homage to Christoph Waltz in I__nglorious Bastards. The French, the German, all these little Easter eggs were put in there for the genre fans that they would love to find.
Those who have seen writer/director Quentin Tarantino's Inglorious Basterds will never forget the genius performance by Christoph Waltz as Hans Landa, and that apparently includes Pilou Asbaek. The Academy Award-winning turn was at the front of the actor's mind when starring in Overlord, and that extended to both his costuming and behavior.
I learned about this specific Inglourious Basterds reference when I sat down with Pilou Asbaek and Julius Avery earlier this fall following the movie's world premiere at Fantastic Fest in Austin, Texas. I had asked both of them what it was about the script that made them feel they had to be a part of the project, and Asbaek noted that it was a desire to play a really horrific villain to the point where it's practically cliche.
While Overlord and Inglourious Basterds are two very different films, they are similar in the sense that they are both premises born in alternate history fiction set during World War II. The latter sets up Adolf Hitler being assassinated while his close comrades die in a burning theater; while the former suggests that the Nazis experimented with mutant zombies in hopes of creating thousand year soldiers for a thousand-year reich.
As you might have been able to tell from much of the marketing for Overlord, Pilou Asbaeck's character winds up becoming one of these specialized, horrific soldiers - and it led him to get some very specific training from one of the most talented performers currently working in the industry.
You can watch Pilou Asbaek go further in his discussion about his approach to the role of Commander Wafner in Overlord by clicking play on the video below.
In addition to Pilou Asbaek, Overlord stars Jovan Adepo, Wyatt Russell, Mathilde Ollivier, Bookeem Woodbine, Ian De Caestecker, and John Magaro, and the film is produced by J.J. Abrams through his Bad Robot shingle. The film is out in theaters now - and for more about what the rest of 2018 has to offer on the big screen, be sure to check out our movie release schedule.