Christoph Waltz takes comedy seriously in 'Horrible Bosses 2'

2-time Oscar winner plays unscrupulous investor in sequel to 2011

Even though he's been funny in films before -- having drawn laughs while in absurd situations in the Quentin Tarantino gems "Inglorious Basterds" and "Django Unchained" -- acclaimed Austrian actor Christopher Waltz has never really had the opportunity to be in an American comedy, so he was thrilled with the offer to act in "Horrible Bosses 2."

Still, the two-time Oscar-winning actor humbly admitted to me in a recent interview, when it came to deciding whether he wanted to star opposite Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis and Charlie Day, he knew he wasn't asked to do the sequel to the 2011 comedy blockbuster to make people laugh, necessarily, but to bring more of a serious presence to help set up some very funny situations.

"They wanted me for a reason, and that reason wasn't to be the fourth funny guy, which I couldn't have done," Waltz said. "Had they asked me to be the fourth funny guy, I would have had to decline, regretfully, because I couldn't do that. Maybe in a different situation I could contribute comedy in some sort of way, but my contribution in this case was to be the straight guy, because a straight guy is necessary."

"Horrible Bosses 2" reunites  Bateman, Sudeikis and Day as Nick, Kurt and Dale, three former tormented office subordinates who emerged from the shadows of their horrible bosses in the first movie to become their own bosses and form their own company.

Coming up with an invention that they're sure will be a hit on the market, the trio catches the attention of Rex Hanson (Chris Pine) -- the irresponsible son of business magnate Bert Hanson (Waltz) -- who convinces his multimillionaire dad to invest in the start-up and distribute the product. But just as the product is produced, Bert cancels the deal with the newbie businessmen, leaving them $500,000 in debt with no legal recourse.

Desperate to avoid financial ruin, Nick, Kurt and Dale decide that the fastest way they can get their money back is to kidnap Rex and demand that Bert pay the ransom -- a plan that Rex, as the trio finds out, wants to be a part of.

Opening with special screenings Tuesday night before its official wide release Wednesday, "Horrible Bosses 2" also features the return of Jamie Foxx as crime consultant Mother (expletive) Jones; Jennifer Aniston as Dale's former sex-addicted boss, Julia; and Kevin Spacey as Nick's now-imprisoned evil former boss, Dave.

Although Bateman, Sudeikis and Day had already well-established their chemistry with the first "Horrible Bosses" movie, Waltz said he didn't feel like an outsider trying to break into an exclusive club with the sequel. He said there was no room for feeling intimidated because the success of any film, much like a sequel, is never guaranteed, and all the actors were on equal ground, no matter how many times they've worked with each other before.

"They're comedians, but they're also actors, so they know what it feels like to come into a new situation," Waltz said. "They were welcoming of me, but even if they had not been, and cooperative and helpful as they actually were, I still would have served my purpose on the film because of the way the characters are set up. It's part of the job to orient yourself as quickly as possible and participate in what you're asked to be a part of."

Due to the conniving nature of his character, Waltz, who will next star in the Tim Burton drama "Big Eyes," said he was asked by director and co-writer Sean Anders to treat his role as if he were acting in something different than a comedy.

"What I really liked about Sean is that he treated this movie like a thriller, too," Waltz observed. "He was not saying, nothing else matters and it has to be a funny movie -- not one bit. Everything was really, really thought out like it was a thriller. This guy is not only talented, he's knowledgeable and polite. He planned his stuff and led the whole shoot like a real director."

Sharing in the suspense with Waltz was Pine, his big-screen son. Although their characters don't see eye-to-eye,  the two got along famously, Waltz said.

"He's fabulous and so good-looking on top of it. That's not fair, is it?" Waltz asked, laughing. "He's the loveliest guy you could imagine. All of his qualities converged on film and added up to one great guy."

Tim Lammers is a nationally syndicated movie journalist and the author of the ebook Direct Conversations: The Animated Films of Tim Burton (Foreword by Tim Burton).