Surprisingly, Taika Waititi Says It Was Not Easy To Get A Film Made With Comic Relief Hitler

The director talked the trials and tribulations behind 'Jojo Rabbit' in an interview on Jimmy Kimmel.

Taika Waititi Jojo Rabbit Interview

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There are not many people who could make Jojo Rabbit, the new film from idiosyncratic auteur Taika Waititi.

That’s in part because the project is full of his distinctive wit and charm. It’s also because most people in Hollywood do not have the creative clout to walk into a meeting of executives and ask for a coupla million bucks to make a comedy about the Hitler Youth starring an imaginary version of Adolf Hitler.

But getting the funding wasn’t easy, even for an acclaimed director of big budget tentpoles like Waititi. In fact, as he explained on Jimmy Kimmel last night, Waititi was so worried about what it would be like to pitch the film, he just straight-up wrote it instead, saving himself from the awkward task of trying to explain Jojo without a script already on hand.

And anyway, Waititi’s from New Zealand, and Kiwis are “useless at pitching”, the director reckons.

“We’re terrible,” he said.

Anyway, aside from that, Waititi is very aware that most people thought Jojo Rabbit was precisely the movie that he shouldn’t make. That said, when he finally convinced a studio he could do it with tact and skill, they had a proviso of their own: he had to be the one to embody Hitler.

“I had no idea I was going to play the role when I was writing it, years ago,” Waititi said. But Fox Searchlight intervened, saying that they’d make the film only under the condition that Waititi play the genocidal dictator.

“I thought, ‘Fox Searchlight must be trying to pull the last Jenga block out of the tower of their company,'” Waititi said. “There’s something going on. They’re trying to collapse the whole Fox empire.

“But it sorta made sense to me, in the end. The film is, at its heart, about the relationship between these two kids … working to overcome this idea of intolerance and hate. And I feel like if you have a massive celebrity playing Hitler, it would overshadow that; overshadow the importance of that story. Because if you did that, it’d become the, y’know, Will Smith Hitler film.”

Watch the full interview below.