How do you follow-up helming a beloved and bonkers blockbuster and launching a quirky TV-spinoff of a comedy smash? If you’re Taika Waititi you play Hitler, and you do it in a way that’d be sure to piss off the horrid führer.
Waititi is writing, directing and co-starring in the upcoming war-dramedy Jojo Rabbit, which is loosely based on the Christine Leunens novel. The film centers on a member of Hitler’s Youth who learns his mother is hiding a Jewish child in their home. Confused, the boy turns to his imaginary friend, Adolf Hitler, played by New Zealand triple-threat Waititi, who is of Jewish and Māori heritage.
Talking to Deadline about the Jojo Rabbit, Waititi described the character as “not really Hitler. He’s like a 10-year-old kid’s version of Hitler. So he doesn’t have to share anything with actual Hitler, because 10 year-olds never meet Hitler. He’s basically a 10-year-old who happens to have a tiny little mustache.”
Waititi felt no need to research Hitler for the role, saying:
I didn’t have to do any research, and I didn’t do any research. I didn’t base him on anything I’d seen about Hitler before. I just made him a version of myself that happened to have a bad haircut and a sh*tty little mustache. And a mediocre German accent.
It would just be too weird to play the actual Hitler, and I don’t think people would enjoy the character as much. Because he was such a f*cking c**t, and everyone knows that as well.
Though he’s making a movie about the world’s most notorious Nazi sh*thead, Waititi isn’t interested in shock tactics. “There’s always a line,” he told Deadline. “But for me, I think I find it naturally; what would I feel embarrassed to show people? Then I wouldn’t put it in. If there’s any time I feel like something is inappropriate I pull back.” He added, “There’s no way I’d do anything just because it might be controversial and might seem like it’ll get people talking. [New Zealanders] find that kind of shock comedy act disingenuous and fake.”
Jojo Rabbit will hit theaters October 18.