I was able to interview Rachel House thanks to a press trip with Disney. All opinions are mine.
Rachel + Taika = FUN
THOR: RAGNAROK is not Rachel House’s first experience working with Taika Waititi. It’s her fourth, so obviously she knows what it’s like working with him.
When we asked Rachel House her favorite part about working with Taika she replied, “Just the fun. Yeah, the fun of it is really good. But this is the first massive film he’s done. The others were very independent; therefore’ we had a very limited amount of time to shoot. We made HUNT FOR THE WILDERPEOPLE with five weeks. And we had to literally run around in the bush, and the mud, and the snow, and the rain. Yeah. It was a lot of fun. But we had no time, you know? So, we just had to keep going. Whereas in Thor, because of the scale of it, we got to kind of breathe a little bit. And Taika was allowed to play as much as possible. So that was really great seeing him able to do that without any kind of time restraint or as much [of a time constraint].”
If you didn’t know this already, Rachel House plays Gramma Tala in MOANA. She made us both laugh and cry in the movie, so someone asked what it was like transforming to Topaz in THOR: RAGNAROK.
“Kind of easy-ish. It’s a kind of character that Taika [LAUGHS] always makes me play. [LAUGHTER] You know what I mean? It’s funny, ‘cause I play all these really mean characters, and I’m not mean at all. I’m sort of really oooooh about meanness. So, I think he kind of enjoys that. Yeah.”
Since she’s been acting with Taika Waititi for so many films, we asked how she got involved with him in the beginning.
“I met him when he was 17. He was in a play in this little theater in Wellington, and he was the best thing about it, you know? I was a couple years older, and at drama school at the time. Wellington and I met him after and said, ‘You were so great. You know, thank you so much.’ And then I started becoming a fan of his little crazy comedy stuff that he’d do with Jemaine and Brent, and another guy called Nigel Collins.
They had this really crazy little act. They’d have sword fights with straws and reenact Star Wars. That was their comedy. So, I became a very big fan. From then, we just kept staying in touch. And I had no idea he was gonna end up being an awesome film director. He was an artist, and an actor, and a comedian.”
Auditioning for the role of Topaz
Since Rachel House has worked with Taika Waititi several other times, we asked if he directly approached her to be in THOR: RAGNAROK.
“No. I got a top secret kind of audition that I had to do through my agent. And she said, ‘Oh, it’s for Marvel.’ And I said, ‘Well, that’ll be Taika.’ [LAUGHTER] You know, of course it will. And she went, ‘Oh yeah, of course it will.’ Then I was given this tiny little scene with a few lines. We did a tape with one of my buddies who’s a casting director. New Zealand is so small, so he filmed it. It was just like doing it in your living room, and then we sent it off. And then got a very kind of droll email from Taika saying, ‘Oh, by the way, you got the role.’ You know, which is really lovely. I don’t know if they saw any other people. I’m not sure.”
Seeing the film during the world premiere
We asked her if “last night” [the premiere in Los Angeles] was the first time she’d seen the movie. She replied, “Yes.” Then we wanted to know what she thought of it.
“Great. And it’s so Taika. So full of comedy, and his unique brand of humor. And Korg was so great. It was amazing. And, you know, people back in New Zealand are just gonna fall about, because it’s such a familiar character. You know, that character is very real.”
Topaz and Valkyrie
After a few more questions about Rachel House’s favorite one-liners, someone asked if there was a backstory between Topaz and Valkyrie. Once you see the movie, you’ll see, but it has to do with the way they treat each other.
“It just that little moment at the beginning where she’s kind of [makes a tough face]. It happened with the encouragement of Taika, but we just started doing it sort of naturally. We were trying to out warrior each other.”
Then someone asked if she and Tessa Thompson got along in real-life. “Oh, yeah, she’s a darling. What a darling. She’s wonderful.”
Favorite scenes that didn’t make it into THOR: RAGNAROK
As we’ve learned from all our interviews, Taika likes to improvise a lot, so a lot of Topaz’s scenes and lines did not make it into the film. She told us about a couple of scenes with Jeff Goldblum that she loved that didn’t make it into the movie.
“There’s a whole thing we do with writing out a check, which is so bizarre in that environment. [LAUGHTER] I’m kind of giving instructions on how to write out a check in my stupid Kiwi accent as well. It’s pretty funny I think. But yeah, Jeff was fabulous.”
There was this whole scene where Jeff does a song at the keyboards. And, he made it up. It was really cool. I mean, I think he had a tiny little bit [of the song in the script] to kind of go with, but then he just kept expanding. As you know, he is a wonderful jazz musician anyway. So, he just expanded that, and I was sort of his really bad back up singer as well. So, that didn’t make it in, which is a bummer.”
Jumping into Marvel
Marvel movies are HUGE, as we all know. So we wanted to know if it was intimidating stepping into Marvel.
“Yes! I’m from New Zealand, so of course it was. But you get over that really quickly. You know, when you meet people and there are so many wonderful people involved in the Marvel universe, and just meeting them. And they’re just people. They’re just normal people. Talented people. So, yeah, the intimidation didn’t last long.”
Someone asked what the most challenging part of playing Topaz was, and she replied, “To be honest, my costume. [LAUGHS] It was really stiff. It was hard to move. And also, when we were doing that spaceship scene, like I was grr, because it’s quite stiff. It’s beautifully made. You know the costume designer is out of this world. But that was a bit hard to move in, you know?”
It was such a delight to meet Rachel House. You will love her as Topaz, and if you’ve not seen the other Taika Waititi movies she’s been in, I definitely recommend that you do!
THOR: RAGNAROK is in theaters everywhere! I hope you’ve seen it already, but if you haven’t, go! It is awesome!
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