Tarantino’s movies, “Inglourious Basterds” included, generally have such excellent casting that it’s often weird to read about who almost played their iconic characters instead. The initial casting plans for “Inglourious Basterds” almost included two big name stars whose presence would have certainly resulted in a very different experience: Leonardo DiCaprio was in talks for the role of Hans Landa, and Adam Sandler was almost going to play “The Bear Jew,” Sgt. Donny Donowitz.
DiCaprio would certainly have had fun playing the film’s villain, if his performance as Calvin Candie in Tarantino’s follow-up film, “Django Unchained,” is anything to go by. But Tarantino smartly decided that the multilingual role was best suited for a native German speaker and ultimately cast Christoph Waltz in the part that would eventually win him an Oscar. Sandler, meanwhile, could have been a scene stealer in the memorably violent role of Donowitz, but he had scheduling conflicts with the filming of the Judd Apatow comedy “Funny People.” He was replaced with director Eli Roth.