At his audition in Berlin, Michael Fassbender inquired about playing Colonel Hans Landa. Quentin Tarantino replied, "Look, man, any guy that gets cast as Heathcliff is not fucking German enough to play my Landa, all right?"
Til Schweiger was given a choice of roles, either Sergeant Hugo Stiglitz or Corporal Wilhelm Wicki. He chose the former.
Daniel Brühl was offered the roles of Major Dieter Hellstrom or Staff Seargent Wilhelm Wicki before being cast as Private First Class Fredrick Zoller.
The Cast Showoff: Christoph Waltz and Diane Kruger are both fluent in English and French in addition to their native German. Waltz speaks all three in the film, in addition to Italian. He speaks some Hebrew, too. Kruger speaks English and German alternately throughout the film and has to affect a thick German accent because her natural speech nearly lacks one.
Creator's Favorite: Not quite the whole film, but Tarantino does consider Landa the best character he's ever created.
Dark Horse Casting: Melanie Laurent almost didn't get the role of Shosanna because Quentin Tarantino was worried by her fame in France - saying he wanted to "discover" someone. She assured him she wasn't so famous, and won the part.
In the scene where Von Hammersmark is strangled to death by Hans Landa, Quentin Tarantino decided to strangle her himself with his own hands during close-up scenes of her face, in order to add realism to her death. He strangled the actress Diane Kruger so hard that she ACTUALLY passed out. And it worked.
Eli Roth has stated that Tarantino repeatedly delayed filming the scene in which Donowitz beats a Nazi Officer to death, knowing that the delays would increasingly annoy Roth, and thus heighten his intensity in the scene.
Extremely Lengthy Creation: Quentin Tarantino spent just over a decade writing the script because, as he told Charlie Rose in an interview, he became "too precious about the page", meaning the story kept growing and expanding.
The Indian-American Omar Doom plays the Jewish-American soldier Omar Ulmer.
Downplayed with Diane Kruger who is German, like her character. However years of working in Hollywood had caused her to lose most of her accent - so she joked that she had to ironically put on a fake accent to make Bridget von Hammersmark sound more German.
Fatal Method Acting: A near miss. During the climactic scene, the fire raging through the cinema was completely real. Unfortunately, it began to get out of hand, and the two actors in the scene were only wearing a jelly to protect their skin; the rest of the crew had fire suits. Ten seconds after Quentin Tarantino called 'cut' and everyone rushed off, the platform the actors had been standing on collapsed. The heat was so intense (2000 degrees fahrenheit) one of them passed out afterwards.
Melanie Laurent worked as a film projectionist for weeks to prepare for her role.
Eli Roth joked that the period clothing helped make him especially aggressive, saying "wearing wool underwear will make you want to kill anything". His girlfriend also added Hannah Montana music onto his iPod to Troll him, which helped get him angry enough.
Shrug of God: Quentin Tarantino is never going to reveal why he chose to spell the title 'Basterds'.
Similarly Named Works: The "Inglourious Basterds" misspelling was likely to avoid a lawsuit by the copyright holders of the 1978 film "The Inglorious Bastards", which was also a World War II film. Though it might also be a reflection on Raine's education.
Voice-Only Cameo: When Hans Landa makes a deal with an Army representative to assassinate Hitler in exchange for immunity and a reward, he gives the phone to Lt. Aldo Raine, and the voice on the other end briefly tells him where to rendezvous; the voice is Harvey Keitel.
At one point Ennio Morricone was onboard to compose the score but backed out due to his belief that he would be unable to work efficiently in the amount of time given.
In the screenplay, the first part of the film set in Paris was intended to have been filmed in black and white, using entirely natural lighting, in reference to the French New Wave.
As Quentin has noted, he at one point responded to the length of the material he'd written with a decision to make it a miniseries. As it stands, he's noted that he has enough for a second film, which he may or may not make eventually.
Michael Madsen was slated to appear as a character called Babe Buchinsky, but did not appear in the final film.
Jean Reno was the original choice for Perrier LaPadite.
Nastassja Kinski was in talks for Bridget Von Hammersmark; Tarantino even flew to Germany to meet the actress, but a deal wasn't reached.
The original draft of the script had Shoshanna as a far more active member of the French resistance, sniping at Nazis from rooftops and even having a kill list of known German officials. But when Tarantino made Kill Bill, those details were worked into the film, and he felt it was more in character for Shoshanna to keep a low profile.
The original draft also had Wilhelm surviving being shot by Bridget von Hammersmark, and he would tell Landa that she was the double agent.
According to Eddie Murphy, he was in talks with Quentin Tarantino for a role in the film.
In the original script, a Nazi who had a swastika carved onto his forehead during one of the Basterd's previous operations recognizes Donny at the theater.
The original script has a flashback where Donny has his neighbors write the names of relatives who are dead or unaccounted for in the Holocaust on his baseball bat after joining the Army.
In the original script, Utvich poses as the chauffeur of Bridgette and her guests despite not knowing how to drive.