"Wow! This honor gives me such tremendous satisfaction," writer-director Quentin Tarantino said in a statement after his World War II drama Inglourious Basterds picked up eight Academy Awards nods – including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Supporting Actor and Best Screenplay – on Tuesday morning.
While the ensemble cast includes Brad Pitt and Diane Kruger, Austrian actor Christoph Waltz earned a Best Supporting Actor nomination for his performance as a diabolical, and multilingual, Nazi officer.
"It was the ultimate wake-up call," Waltz marveled to PEOPLE after learning the happy news in an early morning call from his publicist, adding that he slept fitfully the night before: "Like a baby who wakes up every three hours."
Though Waltz has already picked up Golden Globe and SAG awards for the role, the first-time Oscar nominee said he feels the anticipation and excitement of a child on Christmas Eve.
"The Oscars – in my mind it's something that has been televised and read about and reported on … but what that night really means when you're there, I have absolutely no idea," he said. "I'm looking forward to [it]. I feel true amazement."
According to the film's producer Lawrence Bender, without Waltz there wouldn't have been a Basterds.
"When we got to Berlin, Quentin was really concerned – he felt he'd written a role that couldn't be cast. He thought it was probably the best role he'd ever written and he didn't want to compromise," Bender told PEOPLE. "If he couldn't find someone who could be a great actor – and a great actor in four languages – he said, 'Maybe we should pack up and go home and I'll just publish this as a book.' "
"Later that day, in walked Christoph Waltz, and there was no second choice. Literally – without him, we would've gone home, there would be no movie. So to have him recognized is just wonderful."