From friendly vampires to a pirate looking for love, Taika Waititi never fails to give fans some memorable roles.
Since the success of Thor: Ragnarok in 2017, Taika Waititi has made his mark on Hollywood with his unique writing and directing style that delivers hilarious moments of deadpan humor mixed with heartbreaking dramatic beats throughout his stories. He has earned a reputation as a “triple threat” in that he has written, directed and even acted in his own feature films. Throughout his career, he’s had a surprising variety of live-action roles, from technicians to vampires and even a fascist dictator.
In the lead up to his next big project, Thor: Love and Thunder, it’s worth exploring Waititi’s previous colorful roles in front of the camera and where you can catch these movies and TV shows. The highly anticipated MCU movie hits theaters this Friday, making it the perfect time to catch up on the director/actor/writer’s stellar filmography.
Although he is best known for comedy, one of Waititi’s more serious roles was played in his second feature film Boy, which was released in 2010. Based on his Oscar-nominated short film Two Cars, One Night, the story focuses on the character titular Boy (James Rolleston) and his relationship with his estranged father Alamein. One of Waititi’s other trademarks is including characters in his stories who have issues with his father (from his own upbringing after being raised solely by his mother). This conflict creates the basis for this heartfelt story of Boy reconciling childhood fantasies of him idolizing his father with the harsh truth of Alamein’s turbulent and irresponsible life. Waititi provides the expected balance of comedy by depicting Alamein’s supposed heroic deeds narrated by Boy, like being the captain of the rugby team or being able to dance as well as Michael Jackson. However, in reality, the true selfish nature of him comes out and begs the question of who is the adult between Boy and Alamein. This heartwarming film is available to buy or rent on Apple TV or Amazon Video.
Yes, that is correct. The infamous DC flop that became a running joke in Ryan Reynolds’ career was one of the first Hollywood acting roles on Waititi’s resume. In the 2011 superhero movie, he played Tom Kalmaku, Hal Jordan’s (Reynolds) engineer best friend who knew of his secret identity as Green Lantern. Tom’s character was presented as the archetypal geeky best friend who supports the main hero with the occasional burst of comic relief. Waititi went to great lengths with the material to be more than the trope-laden supporting character, and luckily, he has great chemistry with Reynolds given their mutual sense of sarcastic humor. Perhaps it was also the jarring American accent that Waititi had to adopt as Tom that marks the role as a rare outlier, as his natural New Zealand accent is adopted in his other projects. For those who dare to spend some time watching this movie, it is available to stream on HBO Max.
What could be argued as Waititi’s first breakout role is the 2014 vampire mockumentary What We Do In the Shadows, where he played Viago, one of three main vampire roommates living in New Zealand. Based on a short 2005 skit that Waititi filmed with his friend and long-time collaborator Jemaine Clement, the pair wrote, directed and starred in the film which premiered at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival before opening in theaters in 2015. The comedy is considered a smash hit after taking the popular horror subgenre and taking it in a refreshingly hilarious direction. His comedy can definitely be attributed to the misfit ensemble of vampires, including Waititi’s Viago, who is the romantic, soft-spoken vampire who is the “mom” of the group, that he wants to keep the apartment tidy and make sure everyone is running their errands (Interestingly, Waititi admitted that he partially based his performance on his own mother). The dry New Zealand humor and strong cast of characters was a perfect formula for the film to develop a spin-off universe with two television series. Waititi even made cameo appearances in the 2019 series What We Do in the Shadows, reprising his role as Viago, who remains cheerful and responsible with his new duty on the Vampire Council. For a guaranteed vampire genre laugh, the original movie is available to buy or rent on Apple TV or Amazon Video, while the TV series is available to stream on Hulu.
If there was one role most actors would avoid, it would probably be historical dictators like Adolf Hitler. However, Waititi was bold enough to present a deliberately historically inaccurate caricature of the Führer for his 2019 ‘anti-hate’ satire, Jojo Rabbit. Based on the fictional novel Caging Skies, Waititi adapted the book into a film that followed the titular character Johannes “Jojo” Betzler, a ten-year-old German boy who was indoctrinated into the Hitler Youth during
SECOND WORLD WAR. In fact, it was Fox Searchlight Pictures that asked Waititi to play the role of Hitler as a condition for the film to be produced. Despite initial reluctance, he agreed and realized the comic irony of his Polynesian Jewish background while playing the fascist leader. Waititi cracks up as a cartoonish Hitler who is Jojo’s imaginary friend. Even with the jet-black hair, mustache and Nazi uniform, the performance is designed to poke fun at the infamous figure, especially when Jojo’s Nazi beliefs are challenged by his mother Rosie (Scarlett Johansson) throughout the story. movie. The film’s timely and socially relevant message earned Waititi an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay in 2020.
In cases where Waititi plays an antagonist, he will at least often be a sarcastic and sometimes wacky individual, like Antwan in Shawn Levy’s 2021 film Free Guy. The video game action-comedy was directed by his ex Green Lantern co-star Ryan Reynolds, who played Guy, a non-player character who gains self-awareness from being in a video game called Free City. Waititi appears as the game’s narcissistic, money-hungry CEO and creator, whose plans to make a sequel threaten Guy’s existence. He also clashes with Millie (Jodie Comer) and Keys (Joe Keery) from whom he stole the code data to develop Free City. Waititi provides his trademark charm to keep Antwan within the realm of a comedic antagonist with bizarre banter (resulting from Waititi’s improvisation). He even elevates it to a satirical commentary on capitalist figureheads in the media who give up originality and quality for money. For a feel-good meta-comedy, this movie is available to stream on Disney+ and HBO Max.
In a similar vein to Jojo Rabbit, Waititi starred as another historical figure with a comedic twist in the 2022 bootleg comedy Our Flag Means Death. In addition to directing the pilot episode, he entered the series in the third episode as Edward “Ed” Teach, aka the legendary Blackbeard. Clad in leather, tattoos, and long gray hair and beard, Waititi brings the seriousness and gruffness associated with Blackbeard’s reputation. However, when he is in front of Rhys Darby’s Stede Bonnet, Ed’s humanity and vulnerability comes to the fore, leading to a will-they-won’t-they romance (NOT a bromance) between the two, which marks an excellent display of LGBTQ+ representation. The role of Blackbeard allowed Waititi to flex his dramatic performance once again as Ed’s tragic backstory unfolds throughout the episodes. She fuels Ed’s complex motives by wanting to leave his pirate persona myths behind and be his true self as Stede. Throughout the eight episodes, Blackbeard’s arc is executed by Waititi with sincerity in his somber scenes and sharp wit in his funny moments. With the second season still waiting to be confirmed, the entire first season can only be seen on HBO Max. Blackbeard’s arc is executed by Waititi with sincerity in his dark scenes and sharp wit in his funny moments. With the second season still waiting to be confirmed, the entire first season can only be seen on HBO Max. Blackbeard’s arc is executed by Waititi with sincerity in his dark scenes and sharp wit in his funny moments. With the second season still waiting to be confirmed, the entire first season can only be seen on HBO Max.
Thor: Love and Thunder features the talents of Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Christian Bale, Tessa Thompson and more. The film will hit theaters in the United States on Friday, July 8.
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