Director of 2017’s “Thor: Ragnarok,” Taika Waititi knocked his first MCU feature out of the park, but he is putting the capes and superpowers aside for his latest flick. The 44-year old filmmaker from New Zealand decided to not only direct a black comedy but star as one of the film’s most controversial characters.
In an interview with Empire Online, Waititi discloses his feelings in portraying one of history’s most reviled and detested individuals, Adolf Hitler. While he may only be portraying a literal imagination, as his version of the Führer is only in the mind of the titular Johannes “Jojo” Betzler (Roman Griffin Davis), the role still had a lasting impression on the director.
“I was just sort of embarrassed,” Waititi admits. “That’s the main thing. I was embarrassed all the time to look like that. Going on set, I’d say, ‘Look, sorry everyone.’ It felt like it was hard for it not to be gratuitous. You start asking yourself why you’re really doing it: ‘Why am I dressed like this?’”
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“Jojo Rabbit,” believed to be among this year’s Best Picture Oscar contenders, follows a boy fascinated with Nazism whose beliefs become challenged after discovering his mother (Scarlett Johansson) is protecting a young Jewish female. Based on Christine Leunens’ “Caging Skies,” “Jojo Rabbit” takes a satirical look into the confines of belief, mainly that of Nazism, and underscores the power of childhood imagination.
In another interview with NPR, Waititi discusses how the very elements of satire and comedy are what propels “Jojo Rabbit” forward.
He says, “You have a big responsibility when you come to making a film set in that time [WWII]. I feel like if people don’t get the point of using humor to dismantle these regimes built on intolerance and hate, I’m wasting my time with the person I’m explaining it to.”
Though he might be known as an avid filmmaker, Waititi has been more recently offering his voice to various roles, such as an app-designing alien on “Rick and Morty” and even a killer robot on “The Mandalorian.”
Waititi’s next big pictures are a British soccer documentary adaption called “Next Goal Wins” and the highly anticipated MCU follow-up “Thor: Love and Thunder.” He will also be starring alongside Ryan Reynolds in the upcoming action-comedy flick “Free Guy.”