Quentin to Hitler on ‘Basterds’ Set: ‘Hello, Mein Fuhrer’

Producers of Oscar-nominated films swap war stories in Santa Barbara

A half-dozen producers of Oscar-nominated films of the season gathered in Santa Barbara on Saturday for a discussion moderated by L.A. Times writer Patrick Goldstein.

Each producer, including Mark Boal (“Hurt Locker”), Jon Landau (“Avatar”),  Lori Mcreary (“Invictus”), and Jonas Rivera “(Up”), brought unusual anecdotes from their  adventures making the season’s most memorable films. 

Boal made his film in 44 days, with $11 million in the 120-degree heat in Jordan.

Mcreary pulled “Invictus” together, with director Clint Eastwood, in 55 days – which the famously economical Eastwood completed in 49.

Boal recalled trying to get trailers for the top actors in “Hurt Locker” in Jordan – an impossibility for a country with no filmmaking industry. He ended up putting all the actors in a tent, but director Katherine Bigelow explained to stars Jeremy Renner and Ralph Fiennes that it was a creative choice – to put them all in a warlike mind-set.

Lawrence Bender, the producer of Best Picture nominee “Inglourious Basterds,” recalled the day that the German stage actor Herman Martin Wuttke came on set dressed to play Adolf Hitler.

“The day Hitler walked out on set… it was the most bizarre moment,” Bender recalled.

“Quentin refers to people by their character, so he’d say to Brad (Pitt), ‘Hello, Aldo.’ In walks the actor dressed as Hitler, and Quentin says, ‘Hello, Mein Fuhrer.’”

During lunch, though, no one wanted to sit with Hitler. “I felt sorry for Hitler at lunch,” said Bender. “So I sat with him. Having lost some member of my family to the Holocaust, I found myself making the weirdest small talk. I’ve never felt so awkward.”

Ivan Reitman, who produced his son Jason’s film “Up In the Air,” talked about the support he’s given directors over the years.

“You’re often finding young directors who are trying to make it through the day,” he explained. “And who are making compromises they should not be making. There’s never enough money, and never enough time.”

Moral support, he said, was often enough.