On November 3, THOR: RAGNAROK hits the big screens here in the United States. Thanks to a recent press trip with Disney and Marvel, I’ve seen it and cannot wait to see it again! A huge part of wanting to see it again (on opening day!) is that guy up there in the middle: Director Taika Waititi. It was a blast getting to interview him, and I can’t wait for you to see the humor and unique style he infuses into THOR: RAGNAROK.
Taika Waititi? Who is he?
Before THOR: RAGNAROK, you probably never heard of Taika Waititi. I know I hadn’t until I read a post from Mama’s Geeky about some films he’d made…in New Zealand. Taking her up on the suggestion to watch a film or two that he’d done, I watched HUNT FOR THE WILDERPEOPLE. If you haven’t seen it, you must! It gave me a sense of the type of film to expect THOR: RAGNAROK to be….both heartwarming and hilarious. And, in the end, you’ll find that indeed, it is.
Getting to interview Taika Waititi was definitely a highlight of the trip. Also, hearing the actors talk about working with him further proved that what you see is what you get with him. I don’t know how you could ever have a bad day with Taika Waititi around. His quick wit and quirky sense of humor kept us laughing the entire interview.
Photo credit: Allison Waken All for the Boys
Marvel and Waititi
Right away, someone asked what it was like jumping into Marvel. “It was harrowing and exciting. When they offered me the chance to come pitch on it (remember, my experience was making low-budget, 25 day shoots) my first reaction was really ‘Oh, I guess this Marvel company’s lost their mind or they’re just asking anyone to do anything.” See what I mean? Hilarious.
He was really honest about his uncertainty of working with Marvel. “I was a little unsure if I really wanted to get out of my comfort zone…[but] I wanted to start learning stuff. I didn’t start making films until I was 28, 29. It was never my big dream as a kid.” Then there’s this…THIS cracks me up because I love the movie SUPER 8…“I was never like JJ [Abrams] or these guys running around with their Super 8 cameras when they’re 4 years old…I came into it very late…so, I just wanted to keep upping the game and learning…Then we went to do the pitch with Marvel…and I haven’t had any regrets.”
If you don’t already know this, Taika Waititi is also IN THOR: RAGNAROK playing Korg. One of us asked, “So you’re in charge of this dreadknot of major characters, Thor and Hulk, and you’ve got this pressure. So why put yourself also in it, be a character, and add that pressure?” And, of course, he answered, “Because I’m a self-saboteur. Any chance I get to, you know, to put my career at risk I’ll just do it, you know.” And again, we’re cracking up with him. We talked a little about the type of character Korg is, but I don’t want to spoil anything for you here, so I’m skipping this part of the interview. It is VERY sweet and heartwarming though. We can talk about it later.
Someone asked how much of Korg’s character dialog was freestyle since we’d heard Taika Waititi loves to ad lib and change things up with the script. He replied, “All of Korg’s dialog was improvised. We would know certain pieces of information we wanted to get across. A lot of the film was ad libbed. I use the script as sort of a template, sort of a suggestion. We’d do a version of it and then play around with it…make stuff up…see if we could get something better.” Well, what they got is amazing, and you’ll love it.
Since we were all laughing, someone asked if they were constantly laughing [on the set]. “Yeah, I ruined multiple takes by either being in front of the camera or laughing offscreen…the way I direct, I’m about this close [gesturing] to the actors. And I just sort of stare at them, and I’d say, ‘Say this. Say this. Say this.’ And, I’d poke them in the shoulder. It’s a real god-complex problem…I can’t believe I’m making Anthony Hopkins say whatever I want!” Too funny!
During the press conference, Cate Blanchett pretty much said the same thing about how he’d constantly be whispering new lines to them. I imagine that this set was probably one of the most fun sets these actors have ever worked on just because of how much fun Taika Waititi is.
The feel of the movie
If you’ve seen the trailers, you know there’s a totally new feel to THOR: RAGNAROK as compared to the prior two Thor movies.
Check out this Behind the Scenes featurette to learn a little more about this new look and feel:
Taika Waititi says that when he was a kid he was “really obsessed with the real weird comics, like really colorful pages and stupid crazy characters.”
He wanted to make the movie more lively and fun. “I kind of felt like there was a trend lately that (not just in superhero movies but) a lot of movies were just depressing. I remember movies as a kid, and watching Karate Kid and running out of the film saying I’m Daniel LaRusso. I’m gonna jump around the playground and try to do the crane kick and fall and break my arm. So, that’s what I wanna inspire kids to do.” And we cracked up at this, but it is so true! My son went through a Karate Kid stage. I think we all did. I was a teenager when Karate Kid was out, and I was doing that crane kick too! But movies should stick with you, and THOR: RAGNAROK does.
He went on to say, “I hope people come out of the cinema smiling because you can go to any cinema in town, and no one comes out smiling anymore. Also because it’s like ten dollars for parking and then you pay 80 bucks to your babysitter. You know, the world is crazy right now. It’s nice to go away, smile, laugh, you know, get a little bit of an escape.”
Thanks, Taika Waititi, for allowing us to do just that with THOR: RAGNAROK. Escape a bit. Laugh a bit. Cry a bit. You’re gonna love it.
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THOR: RAGNAROK opens in theaters everywhere November 3rd!