Taika David Waititi, also known as Taika Cohen, is a New Zealand film director, writer, actor, painter and comedian. He was nominated for an Academy Award for his 2004 short film Two Cars, One Night.
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OK I HAVE TO GO NOW. THANKS SO MUCH FOR THIS AMA GUYS! I'm off to eat breakfast and take the kids to the beach. I know... hard life. Have a great day/night and see you all next time! Mauri Ora!
Hello Reddit! I'm Taika Waititi, director of HUNT FOR THE WILDERPEOPLE and WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS. I'm currently working on a little passion project called THOR: RAGNAROK. For more about that, follow me on Instagram: @taikawaititi.
Hey Taika, did you ever get made fun of in this industry for being Polynesian? I'm making films in LA, I'm young and haven't had a chance to prove myself yet, but people don't take me seriously. I get called Lilo and Moana or get made fun of for being small. If it happened to you, did you just ignore it?
Ignore it. They're idiots. Our ancestors explored the ENTIRE of the pacific ocean without GPS. You come from that greatness.
Howdy Taika, Kevin Feige said that Thor: Ragnarok would be the Winter Soldier of the MCU's Phase 3 movies. Care to elaborate on that?
Jeez. I better see Winter Soldier... no joke.
Hi Taika! I saw "What We Do in the Shadows" and loved it! I'm really excited for Thor: Ragnarok & I've got a couple little questions:
1) Will Thor: Ragnarok meld well with the previous two movies, or will it stand on its own?
2) Can we expect some of the same brand of humor in Thor? If so, were you ever given a hard time about certain scenes or lines?
3) Why does the title card for Thor look like it was pulled from a retro video game?
4) What's happening with We're Wolves?
5) Would you like some bisghetti?
I have no idea. It will be a nice addition to the Taika Waititi box-set though.
You can expect a Taika-esque tone. They've been very accepting of my style.
In case there's a retro style video game spin-off.
We have a title, what else do you want??
I'm not falling for that!
Do you know how much of your original script of Moana Disney has used for the finished film?
Big fan, love all your movies!
Given you've gotten 20000 questions about a shirtless Tom Hiddleston or Chris Hemsworth, my question for you is: will there be a shirtless Anthony Hopkins in Ragnarok?
Finally... and MAYBE.
Considering the retro logo, can we expect an 80's vibe in Thor: Ragnarok?
You can. And more.
I'm going to the grocery store- you need anything?
My childhood back.
How would you cast Jemaine Clement in the Marvel Cinematic Universe?
He might have made a funny Thanos. But then Thanos wouldn't have been scary.
If you were in a mall or public area, would you mind if fans came up to talk to you?
Just wondering because was with some friends at Riccarton Mall in ChCh and we saw you but were too star-struck to walk up to you.
I had thought we would go see Kung Fu Panda 3 but the mere sight of you inspired me to head straight into Wilderpeople. Loved every second of it.
You should have come up for a chat. I was bored that day.
Taika, your films are incredible! You make me so proud to be a Kiwi! Any advice for young NZ screenwriters looking to break into the industry?
Start as a runner. Seriously.
Hey Taika! Hunt for the Wilderpeople has ended up being my favourite film of this year, and What We Do in the Shadows was my favourite of last year. You’re good at your job.
What have you planned for Thor: Ragnarok to make it stand out from the other Marvel films?
Also, compared to your other films, how humorous will it be?
Awesome. Thanks. I think TR will be one of the most adventurous and most "out there" of all the marvel movies. It's a crazy movie.
Hi Taika, what's the most impressive film you've seen this year that not enough people have seen?
I haven't seen many movies this year I'm afraid. Jodorowski's Dune is a great doc that I really loved.
How many takes did you guys have to do of Deacon doing his sexy dance for his friends in What We Do In The Shadows, because you couldn't stop laughing? Because I couldn't stop laughing.
About 4 takes. But each take was 7 minutes.
Hi Taiki! Thanks for doing this.
How involved have you been with Disney's Moana? I read that you wrote the first draft of the script for it, but have you been involved with any of the production?
I was involved very early on with some storylining. But there have been about 10 other writers since me.
You have been working with an impressive cast.
What is it like to work with big names like Anthony Hopkins, Jeff Goldblum and Cate Blanchett?
AMAZING. They are gold. Funny. Beautiful people.
Just wanted to say Eagle vs Shark was a fantastic film. Really spoke to me as an awkward teenager. Would love to hear any fond memories or little known facts about it?
(HFTWP is also pretty special so kudos for that as well!)
I still have fond memories of shooting that film. We were all really young and didn't know what we were doing - that's why I love the movie. It's like watching a teenager.
I submitted an AMA request for you a couple of weeks back, and I’m super thrilled that you’re doing an AMA now. I want you to know I’m a big fan of your films, and just of you in general - And I’ve watched What We Do in the Shadows about five times with different people each time, and dragged a big group of people to see Hunt for the Wilderpeople in the cinema, so I’m doing my best to spread the Taika love here in Ireland.
These are the questions I asked in my original AMA request, you can answer them or ignore them, I don’t mind:
And here are a couple of questions I’d just like to ask you now:
And the last question I have is this - What advice would you give to someone who is moving to Wellington?
(Also, here is a picture I drew/painted of you, which is probably silly to include but I don’t often get to show pictures I draw of famous people to the people themselves so I’m taking advantage, sorry.)
1. It's not too different.
2. I had to make it more non-specific so it didn't draw too much from a particular culture. Also, they've had 10 other writers since I worked on it so I don't think there will be much of my original story left.
3. Very pleasant.
4. Not very different at all!
5. Nope! Nice surprise...
6. Whale Rider.
8. Buy a jacket.
9. Awesome picture!
Is Jermaine Clement a good hugger? He looks like a good hugger.
Terrible hugger! I'm serious. Like hugging a limp wet fish.
Will you be doing a press tour in the states for
I hope so. I can't trust the actors to reliably promote this thing.
How often do you ask Sam Neil about his more out there movies?(Possession, Event Horizon, In the mouth of Madness)
I ask about Event Horizon every time I talk to him.
Chris Hemsworth is really funny. How much of his comedy chops are utilised in THOR: RAGNAROK?
All of them.
Whose idea what the short of Thor during Civil War?
Mine and my producer.
I have a few questions if that's alright!
Thank you for being an incredible Filmmaker.
For me Thor: Ragnarök is currently on the same anticipation level as Episode VIII-
Marvel have a huge influence on the story. They know the universe way better than I do.
I still use Cohen. I just happened to be using Waititi on my first film and then it got nominated for an Oscar and I had to keep using it. Cohen is on all of my IDs etc.
The style is inspired by 70s / 80s sci-fi fantasy art. Because our film feels like that.
Thanks for the anticipation! I think the movie will be amazing.
How polite is Tom Hiddleston? How cheeky is Chris Hemsworth?
Do you believe in the skuxx life choosing you?
Tom is very polite but has a cheeky streak. Chris has a heart of gold. Actual gold. He had it made and installed in his chest when he got paid for RUSH.
Hey Taika! Thanks for doing this. Im a huge fan and I was just wondering if you have any advice for an 18 year old aspiring tv and movie director who cant go to film school and wants to work in the industry? Also hunt for the wilderpeople was an amazing movie, cant wait for thor!! Ps. I can definitely be a PA for any of your projects lol
Thanks! My advice would be to ignore film school and get a foot in the industry door somehow. Start as a runner/PA - that way you'll get to see every department and decide which direction you'd like to head in.
Hey Taika! As a child I also had a pet goat like Alamein Jr. in Boy. When he goes to hide money in Leaf’s pen I was screaming at the TV “Don’t leave the cash in the pen! Leaf is gonna eat it! THE GOAT IS GONNA EAT IT!”. I was hooked into watching the rest of your movies from that point on and have not been disappointed.
In Boy and Hunt for the Wilderpeople, children and animals are largely featured in both of them, and I’ve heard that those are the two hardest things to work with as a director. My question is, what has been your experience in working with young actors and animals? Are there any hilarious/frustrating moments that you encounter with them that you don’t have to deal with in adult/human actors?
That goat was one of the most frustrating actors I've ever worked with. They trained him to play dead but they trained him on a mattress so he wouldn't sit still unless he had pillows underneath him. Animals are terrible to work with but if you are patient they can give you amazing images.
Hey, Dad! These are like a string of the most random questions but thought I should ask anyway:
Sorry for asking such weird questions, I love you and I hope you're having lots of fun. Have a good day!
I do watch them! Guardians is my favourite. I miss Jim too. And I hate shaving quite a lot.
Did you know that your name means magic in Finnish?
Yep. And also Satan in Kenyan.
What is it like being in the presence of Cate Blanchett?
Hey Taika! Huge fan.
My family moved from New Zealand to Canada when I was a kid and I miss Jaffas every day. If you found out tomorrow you could never got back to NZ, what New Zealand specific thing would you miss the most? (Aside from friends/family)
Probably jaffas too. And steak and cheese pies.
Hello Taika. In Making Thor 3, did you make efforts to make it similar or dissimilar to the previous Thor films? As in, did you try to maintain the same elements, or did you try to make it more unique? Thanks
I made an effort to ignore the fact there are other Thor films.
Thanks for doing this Taika! What does Kevin Feige smell like?
Starbucks. But that's all Americans actually.
If you could go back in time to tell your younger self something, what would it be?
Learn how to use Reddit ahead of time.
Who would win in a fight between Blade and the vampire roommates from What We Do in the Shadows?
We would smash that vampire hunter guy.
Why Mark Mothersbaugh was chosen to write Thor: Ragnarok score? And are you a Devo fan?
Because he's a genius and his style fits with what we're doing. Love devo!
Kia ora, Taika! Why Alessi Brothers - Seabird at the end of Wilderpeople? That song is my absolute jam and it was such a sweet surprise! Chur!
It's so good! My editor found it and suggested it. Luckily it didn't cost too much.
I have been recommending Wilderpeople to every single person I talk to about movies. Y'all made a fantastic film I will be watching over and over. How glorious has it been working with Cate Blanchett?
Thanks! She is amazing. I am actually in love with her.
Are you open to an Avengers/What We Do... crossover? I am. How about a graphic novel or comic book adaptation of one your works?! WRITTEN BY YOU!
Woah, that would be gooooood.
Why does Jemaine like to wear striped shirts over striped shirts? Also, how long has it been since you two last saw each other? Thank you, I hope you have a very lovely day!
He and his family came to visit last week. He's moved on to polka dots over stripes.
What was the coolest shot you were able to pull off on Thor: Ragnarok (before VFX work) due to the gear available on a big-budget flick?
Do you have a library card?
Will your Thor film retain any semblance of the series' Shakespearesque-ishness?
Does it annoy you that you've made, um, three? Let's go with three. No, it might have been four. Does it annoy you that you've directed three-ish other movies, most of which did pretty well with critics, and yet there are so many questions here about a guy with big muscles who waves his tool in the air? (Thor and his Hammer. I'm talking about Thor and his hammer.)
What are some of the best traditional Maori foods?
Which movies would you recommend for learning about what kinds of things don't work in a movie?
We have an amazing shot that took a bunch of mathematicians and scientists (nerds) a couple of months to figure out. We're also using a rig called Satelight that has never been used in a movie before.
No. Well maybe. But not in earnest.
I don't mind. Those muscles are big. ish.
Wild pork and watercress.
Most films from the 90s.
Hey Taika, Boy and What We Do In The Shadows are two of my favourite films! Hoping to see Wilderpeople soon!
My question is - what kind of challenges did the scale of production for Thor: Ragnarok pose compared to
your previous films?
PS I was sitting here an hour ago refreshing the page because I can't do timezone maths.
Thanks! The only challenge is dealing with the amount of people. There are literally hundreds more crew members than I'm used to. I gave up remembering anyone's name months ago.
You replied to me on Twitter once. Can I tell people we are friends?
Go for it.
Hi Taika, just wanted to ask what movies influenced What We Do in The Shadows? I love that movie, one of few that has my ribs aching when I watch it! Thanks!
The biggest influences were This is Spinal Tap, Man Bites Dog, Lost Boys, and Grey Gardens.
I just wanted to say that I discovered your movies about a year and a half ago and they saved my life. I hit a bit of a rough patch dealing with depression and anxiety but when I discovered your films, I found them to be therapeutic. I love that they can make me both laugh and cry and also escape from reality. So I just wanted to thank you for making such amazing art and doing what you're doing and that I can't wait to see what you do with the new Thor!! :) Also, which of your films was your favorite to work on? I noticed you have a lot of repeating cast members, who is your favorite to work with?
Grace (from Texas)
Amazing. That makes me feel really good about making films! This film is currently my favourite to work on but BOY was the best overall.
what are your favorite tv shows at the moment?
I haven't had any time to watch tv. The last thing was Stranger Things. Loved that.
(Aside from your own movies) what are some of your favorite New Zealand or Polynesian-produced films?
The Silent One and Whale Rider.
Hi Taika! There are rumours floating around about a Doctor Strange post-credits sequence. Will there be DS references in Ragnarok?
Probably a reference.
How difficult was it to fit your vision for Thor: Ragnarok into the existing continuity of the MCU?
I didn't bother trying.
Hi! I rely enjoyed the Thor and Darryl sketch and I wanted to ask if there is any chance for another one with any of the other avengers?
sorry for my bad enlish
That would be a dream come true. I'd love to actually make a bunch of them.
How skuxx are you?
I'm the skuxxdedest of them all.
Thanks for doing this.
Which character or actor is going to steal the show in your opinion?
Taika! It was great meeting you at Unitec in Auckland!
Was the person tripping over outside Cinesaurus Rex in Eagle vs Shark intentional or a legitimate accident?
Also: what do you normally eat for breakfast? Your scrambled egg recipe is excellent.
That was intentional. That person is Jo Randerson, a gifted NZ writer and performer.
So Taika, now that you're almost done with Thor Ragnorak, do you feel you've done everything you wanted to do with the character(s) in the film, or would you want to come back for another round?
Not sure. I don't want the filming to stop because it's so much fun. But I don't know how much further I can push these characters.
Can you say anything about the overall tone of Thor: Ragnarok?
Are there any characters you wish you could have gotten in the movie?
The tone is very different. Think CRAZY.
I would have liked to get John C Reilly's character in the film but there was no real way to pull it off.
1). How are you able to get such good performances out of child actors?
2). With Thor: Ragnarok, did the bigger scale of the project affect the way you direct?
Thanks for doing this, I'm a HUGE fan of everything you've done!
how do i become a runner in the industry?
Contact the production office. Don't ask me for the number because i don't know it.
I have a couple of questions:
They don't look right. They're TOO big.
I'm listening to William Onyeabor right now.
You have appeared in many of the films you have directed. Will you be making an appearance in Thor: Ragnarok?
Also are there any attractive horses in Thor: Ragnarok? I am asking for a friend....
Hey. I just received a pretty stunning gift. Chris and Tom were thrilled too. Thank you.
Hello Mr. Waititi. After seeing What We do in the Shadows I instantly fell in love with your filmmaking and acting. A testimony to your acting skills is the fact that as a German, I thought while watching you in What we do in the Shadows that you must have German heritage.
I recently had the pleasure oh watching Hunt for the Wilderpeople and loved the stylistic look of it. I am wondering if you plan on making this type of framing, blocking and camera work your stylistic touch (think Wes Anderson) or if it was just for this film?
There is a lot of Kubrick coming through in this TR film.
And I lived in Berlin for 2 years in the 90s.
I think you're the most inspired directing choice in the MCU so far. A few questions:
To what extent have you moulded the screenplay into your own thing while making the film, assuming you didn't have a hand in writing it. If you did, how extensive was your involvement in the writing?
Regarding artistic freedom, how much interference did you face while shooting the film? Some is to be expected regarding continuity and stuff, but was there any tension during the shoot?
I'm incredibly excited for Ragnarok, which to be honest wasn't something I thought I'd say before finding out you were directing.
I've had a big influence on story and character and tone. It's just like how I make my other films except way bigger. So far I've been given a lot of creative freedom. Thanks!
One of the great challenges with Thor is that his pathos tends to be subtle, especially next to Loki who is a big screaming diva about his issues. This earns him the reputation of a lunk and a dullard. Was it difficult to serve Thor's character while giving Loki his proper due?
This is something we concentrated a lot on. Thor is awesome now.
How come the boy in Wilderpeople didn't lose weight while on the run in the wilderness? Seems to me living like that would make him shed pounds and lean up.
In the book he becomes skinny. But to do that to Julian in the 5 weeks we had to shoot would probably be deemed illegal.
What things did you do as a teenager that helped you get to where you are today? And would would you suggest an aspiring filmmaker today does with their life after high school?
I was a reckless teen. The only thing that might have helped was get interested in stories. I loved history because it's a class where you get to hear / read stories all day. After high-school you need to sit still and think.
Beyonce or Jeff Goldblum? This is an important life or death question, Taika.
Hello, Taika! It's 5AM here, I woke up to thank you so much for making Hunt for the Wilderpeople!!! It is still my favourite movie of the year. New Zealand looks uh-mah-zing!
Also, how do you take your tea? I like mine hot and English.
Good morning! Milk no sugar. Bag in.
What advice would you give to young Australians who want to be successful directors like you?
Move to NZ! Lol.
Sorry, I'm just sore that we lost the league last night.
You and fellow kiwis, Jemaine and Bret have worked on a lot of Disney films in the past few years (Muppets, BFG, Moana, Thor), is that connected in any way?
Hey Taika, What is one really under rated film that you feel gets a bad rap? cheers
Taika, What is your favourite tarantino film?
Reservoir Dogs. And then Pulp Fiction.
Hi Taika! How did becoming a father influence your work--specifically the dynamic between Ricky and Hec in HFTWP?
(Thank you so much for doing this!)
Thanks! I'm not sure! I'm always tired though so maybe the shots are slower?