- Taika Waititi wrote and directed “Jojo Rabbit,” and also played an imaginary version of Adolf Hitler in the movie.
- Because of that, Waititi sometimes had to direct on set dressed in his Hitler costume.
- Waititi told Business Insider how uncomfortable he was having to do that.
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Directing a movie is a hard job, but imagine doing it while being dressed as one of the most hated figures in history.
That’s what Taika Waititi (“Thor: Ragnarok”) was up against when he made the critically acclaimed movie and award-season contender “Jojo Rabbit” (in select theatres Friday).
A satirical coming-of-age story set in Germany at the height of the Nazi regime, Waititi didn’t just write and direct the outlandish movie, but also played an imaginary version of Adolf Hitler, who is the best friend of the movie’s main character, Jojo (Roman Griffin Davis).
While trying to make the movie over the course of several years, Waititi said the project never got off the ground because the financiers wanted an A-list star in the Hitler role. Waititi wasn’t able to get anyone interested and also thought a casting like that would backfire.
“If it’s the Brad Pitt Hitler movie that’s all it’s going to be known as,” Waititi told Business Insider. “He’ll be the only thing on the poster and it will distract from the real heart of that story which are these kids. And I want to see a Brad Pitt anything movie but it would have taken away from what the story is trying to deliver.”
Then after Waititi made “Thor: Ragnarok,” Fox Searchlight became interested in making the movie, but only if he played the imaginary Hitler character.
“Which was lunacy to me,” Waititi admitted.
But he warmed to the idea when he heard Searchlight’s reasoning, which was that the only person who could pull off the buffoonery of the role was the person who wrote the story.
That led to the uncomfortable reality for Waititi on set, as he would sometimes have to direct dressed in his Hitler costume.
“Yeah, it was horrible,” Waititi said, adding that he did address the cast and crew on the first day of shooting about his appearance.
Though he tried to conceal it at times, he said it was still terrible to be dressed like that all the time.
“I was just embarrassed on set,” Waititi said. “Having to be dressed like that and having to talk to people. Often I took off the mustache between set ups or put a hat on. Or I would take the jacket off. But still, you catch yourself in a reflection and you’re reminded. For most people it’s something like seeing themselves and going, ‘I forgot, I got a haircut yesterday.’ For me it was, ‘Ah, I forgot, I look like Hitler.'”