How Hannah Montana inspired Quentin Tarantino’s ‘Inglorious Basterds’
(Credit: Netflix)


How Hannah Montana inspired Quentin Tarantino's 'Inglorious Basterds'

When Eli Roth took on the role of ‘The Bear Jew’ in Inglorious Basterds, he didn’t indulge in any bullshitting and promised nothing other than a fair bit of Nazi braining. In the make-believe world of movie making, it’s pretty hard to just rock up to work with the snapped intent of a bludgeoning man on a mission every day, so Roth needed some help. 

Fortunately, it wasn’t nettlesome method acting that he relied upon, it was merely happenstance that got him in the mood to swing a bat with utter fury for a few hundred frenzied takes. Although the film might live out an alternate World War II fantasy, part of its triumph was that you didn’t see it coming owing to how faithful it had been in other areas.

Sadly, for Roth, the attention to detail of the costume department was a little bit too faithful. “Being in wool underwear will make you want to kill anything,” Roth said. He stressed that he was so physically irritated by the dated materials that it manifested in genuine anger, and he was able to tap into wanting to crack a few skulls quite easily.

However, there was one important factor that helped him psychologically along the way too. You see, we can compartmentalise external details and grow used to fabric, but one thing that really gets under your skin is music. We are hardwired to understand musical tones; almost from birth we inherently can split a sad song from a joyous one—it’s part of the same evolutionary biology that keeps the tribe bonded by empathy. 

Within that musical coding, there are certain oddities that are harder to explain. Such as, Roth couldn’t quite figure out why the Hannah Montana soundtrack infuriated him quite as much as it did. His girlfriend snuck some of it onto his iPad back when he was filming. Thus, it would pop up on shuffle while he was waiting in his trailer and suddenly violent rage would ensue. “You couldn’t ever put me in a Hannah Montana concert with a baseball bat or I would wipe the place out,” Roth said. 

As the actor comically explained: “So, when I was beating the guy, I started thinking, ‘What if I was Hannah Montana?’” It’s a grating thought that took him to a point of “insanity” and fuelled his lust for vengeance. “Little do they know that that’s why I look so insane,” he added. “I’m torturing myself with thoughts of, ‘How could I actually pull off being a high school student and a pop star at night?” It’s a grating thought that has kept many of us awake, Roth.

He stayed in this troubling mindset throughout the film, without going “method like, ‘What is this strange man with a microphone doing in my face?’” he said. “That’s why these [method] actors are nuts.” So, there we have it, Hannah Montana is also a great way to skirt the troubling side of method acting. As Robert Pattinson recently put it: “I always say people who do method acting, you only ever see people do the method when they’re playing assholes. You never see someone being lovely to everyone while they’re really deep in character.”