Eli Roth On His Acting Journey from 'Worst Extra Ever' to Bear Jew
Before this year, only horror geeks would stop Eli Roth on the street. Now, though, the Hostel director has cultivated a whole new fanbase as an actor after appearing as the Nazi-bashing Bear Jew in Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds. Roth attended last night's Behind the Camera Awards with his friend and Basterds costar Christoph Waltz, and he had plenty to say to Movieline about his newfound recognition (as well as heaps of praise for Basterds editor Sally Menke, who was honored last night). Still, while the Bear Jew is all well and good, what we really wanted to know about was Roth's inauspicious acting debut in Barbra Streisand's The Mirror Has Two Faces. (No, we're not making that up.)
First, though, the Bear Jew! How is Roth dealing with all the attention? "It's very weird. I'm still not used to it," he said. "What's really great is that people recognize me as the Bear Jew -- I like it. It's not that I enjoy being recognized as an actor, it's that I enjoy being recognized as that character, because it was such a fun, badass character to play."
Still, as scary as the Bear Jew might seem to a captive German, it doesn't hold a candle to the terrifying train wreck that is Roth's scene from the Streisand movie, where he and an unfortunate classroom full of extras are forced to react with wild, over-the-top appreciation of Streisand's awfully mild lecture. Truly, it must be seen to be believed.
"I do get recognized from The Mirror Has Two Faces," Roth admitted. "I was actually the worst extra ever. If you go and YouTube Talk Soup, there's a shot of me where he's like, 'Look at these extras! They're terrible! I was so bad that I got singled out in reviews as an extra, so this is actually kind of sweet revenge."