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Taika David Waititi (/ˈtkə wˈtti/ (About this sound listen);[1] born 16 August 1975) is a New Zealand film director, screenwriter, actor, and comedian. He was nominated for an Academy Award for his 2004 short film Two Cars, One Night.

Taika Waititi
Taika Waititi by Gage Skidmore.jpg
Waititi at the 2017 San Diego Comic-Con
Born Taika David Waititi
(1975-08-16) 16 August 1975 (age 43)
Wellington, New Zealand
Other names Taika Cohen
Alma mater Victoria University of Wellington
Occupation Film director, screenwriter, actor and comedian
Years active 1999–present
Known for Boy, What We Do in the Shadows, Hunt for the Wilderpeople, Thor: Ragnarok
Spouse(s) Chelsea Winstanley
Children 2

His feature films Boy (2010) and Hunt for the Wilderpeople (2016) have each been the top-grossing New Zealand film, with the latter still holding that title as of 2018.[2][3][4] He co-directed the horror comedy film What We Do in the Shadows (2014) with Jemaine Clement, which brought him further critical acclaim and recognition. Waititi later directed the Marvel Cinematic Universe superhero film Thor: Ragnarok (2017), which received critical acclaim.

Contents

BackgroundEdit

Waititi is from the Raukokore area of the East Coast region of the North Island of New Zealand and grew up there and in Wellington,[5] and attended Onslow College for secondary school.[6] His father is Māori of Te Whānau-ā-Apanui and his mother is Jewish (of Russian Jewish heritage).[7][8] Waititi has used his mother's surname, "Cohen", for some of his work in film and writing.[9]

CareerEdit

Comedy and acting workEdit

While a drama student at Victoria University of Wellington, Waititi was part of the five-member ensemble So You're a Man, which toured New Zealand and Australia with some success.[10] He was half of the comedy duo The Humourbeasts alongside Jemaine Clement, which received New Zealand's highest comedy accolade, the Billy T Award, in 1999.[11]

Waititi has also acted on screen since early in his career. He won a local film award for his work as one of the students in the successful low-budget Dunedin film Scarfies (1999) and had smaller roles in the road movie Snakeskin (2001) and the TV series The Strip (2002–03). Waititi played Thomas Kalmaku in 2011 superhero film Green Lantern,[12] and took large roles in two of his own films: 2010's Boy, and 2014's What We Do in the Shadows, which he co-directed and co-wrote with Jemaine Clement. He also plays Korg, a Kronan, via motion capture in his 2017 superhero film Thor: Ragnarok.[13]

FilmmakingEdit

Among a variety of artistic interests, Waititi began making comical short films for New Zealand's annual 48-hour film contest.[14] In 2005 his short film Two Cars, One Night earned him an Academy Award nomination.[15] At the awards ceremony, he famously feigned falling asleep as the nominations were being read out.[5][16]

His first feature film, oddball romantic comedy Eagle vs Shark, was released in U.S. theatres for limited distribution in 2007.[17] The film stars Waititi's then real-life partner, Loren Horsley, as Lily.[18] The same year, Waititi wrote and directed one episode of the TV show Flight of the Conchords and was director of another.[19]

His second feature, Boy, premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2010,[20] and was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize. Waititi also took one of the main roles, as the ex-con father who returns to his family. On its release in New Zealand, Boy received enthusiastic reviews[21] and was successful at the local box office, eclipsing several records.[22] After the success of Boy, Waititi hoped that the film's signature track "Poi E" would get to number one (for the second time) on the New Zealand charts.[23] The song ultimately reached number three on the charts, but managed to become number one on iTunes.[24]

 
Taika Waititi speaking at 2015 Sundance Film Festival

In 2011, Waititi directed New Zealand TV series Super City starring Madeleine Sami, who plays five characters living in one city.[25]

In 2013, Waititi co-wrote and co-directed vampire comedy mockumentary What We Do in the Shadows with friend and fellow comedian Jemaine Clement.[26] The film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2014.[27] Waititi and Clement played members of a group of vampires who live in modern-day Wellington.

Waititi's fourth feature, Hunt for the Wilderpeople, premiered at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival.[28] When it was released back in New Zealand, the comedy adventure broke Waititi's own record for a New Zealand film in its opening weekend.[29] Based on a book by the late Barry Crump, the film centres around a young boy and a grumpy man (played by Sam Neill) on the run in the forest.

Waititi wrote the initial screenplay for the 2016 Disney film Moana,[30] which focused on gender and family. Those elements were passed over in favour of what would become the finalized story.[31]

In 2017, Waititi won the award for New Zealander of the Year, but was unable to receive it in person due to work commitments.[32]

Waititi directed his first major Hollywood film, Marvel Studios' Thor: Ragnarok, which was released in October 2017.[33][34] He had previously directed two shorts for Marvel called "Team Thor", which dealt with Thor's living in Australia with his roommate, Darryl Jacobson.

Waititi will be collaborating with Mark Gustafson to direct the upcoming stop-motion animated film Bubbles, which is about the life of Michael Jackson seen from the perspective of his pet chimpanzee, Bubbles.[35] Waititi is also reportedly directing a new live-action film version of Akira[36] and is preparing to start co-writing a sequel to What We Do in the Shadows, titled We're Wolves.[37] Waititi is also working on an upcoming feature Jojo Rabbit, based on the book Caging Skies by Christine Leunens, the story of a young Nazi with an imaginary Jewish friend, in which Waititi will play Hitler.[38]

Personal lifeEdit

In May 2012 Waititi's wife, Chelsea Winstanley, gave birth to their first daughter, Te Hinekāhu.[39][40] Their second daughter, Matewa Kiritapu, was born in August 2015.[41][42]

In the run-up to the 2017 general election, Waititi announced his support for Jacinda Ardern and the Labour Party.[43]

FilmographyEdit

FilmEdit

Year Film Credited as Notes
Director Producer Screenwriter Actor
1999 Scarfies No No No Yes Role: Alex
2001 Snakeskin No No No Yes Role: Nelson
2001 A New Way Home No No No Yes Short film
Role: Max
2002 John and Pogo Yes No Yes No Short film
2003 Two Cars, One Night Yes No Yes No Short film
2004 Tama Tu Yes No Yes No Short film
2004 Futile Attraction No No No Yes Role: Waiter
2005 What We Do in the Shadows: Interviews with Some Vampires Yes No Yes Yes Short film
Role: Viago
2007 Eagle vs Shark Yes No Yes Yes Role: Gordon
2010 Boy Yes No Yes Yes Role: Alamein
2011 Green Lantern No No No Yes Role: Thomas Kalmaku
2013 The Captain No No No Yes Short film[44]
Role: The Captain
2014 What We Do in the Shadows Yes Yes Yes Yes Role: Viago
2016 Hunt for the Wilderpeople Yes Yes Yes Yes Role: Minister
2016 Team Thor Yes Yes Yes No Short film
2016 Doctor Strange No No No No Uncredited; directed mid-credits scene[45]
2016 Moana No No No No Uncredited; wrote initial screenplay[46]
2017 Thor: Ragnarok Yes No No Yes Role: Korg[47]
2018 The Breaker Upperers No Yes No No Executive Producer[48]
TBA Jojo Rabbit Yes Yes Yes Yes Role: Adolf Hitler[49]

TelevisionEdit

Year Program Episode(s) Credit(s)
2002 The Strip 13 Episodes Role: Mostin
2003 Revelations Episode: "Mended Sole" Role: Ali
2003 Freaky Episode: "Fridge, Cleaner & Sister" Role: Cleaner
2007–2009 Flight of the Conchords 4 episodes Director and writer
2009 The Jaquie Brown Diaries Episode: "Brownward Spiral" Role: Friendly Gypsy
2010 Radiradirah 8 episodes Role: Various characters
2011 Super City 6 episodes Director
2012 The Inbetweeners 5 Episodes Director
2015 Brown Eye Season 1 Writer and executive producer
2018 Wellington Paranormal 6 episodes Co-creator, role: Viago [50]

Frequent collaboratorsEdit

Actor Eagle vs Shark (2007) Boy (2010) What We Do in the Shadows (2014) Hunt for the Wilderpeople (2016) Thor: Ragnarok (2017) Jojo Rabbit (TBA) Notes
Jemaine Clement     Clement and Waititi also worked together on television series Flight of the Conchords, Radiradirah and Wellington Paranormal
Rachel House         House also has a voice role in Moana (2016 film), a film Waititi wrote the initial screenplay for.
Stu Rutherford         Co-invented a lighting system used on certain scenes in Thor: Ragnarok[51]
Cohen Holloway          
Craig Hall    
Rhys Darby     Darby and Waititi also worked together on television series Flight of the Conchords and Radiradirah
Cori Gonzalez-Macuer    
Oscar Kightley   Kightley and Waititi also worked together on the television series Super City and Radiradirah
Mike Minogue    
Sam Neill    
Scarlett Johansson     Archival footage from Avengers: Age of Ultron was used for Johansson’s appearance in Thor: Ragnarok

Music videosEdit

CommercialsEdit

Waititi has also been a prolific commercial director. He directed Air New Zealand's "The Most Epic Safety Video Ever Made" featuring Peter Jackson and Elijah Wood as they go through where The Lord of the Rings films were shot.[52] The commercial went viral amassing over 19 million views on YouTube.[53] Waititi directed Tesco's "Borg" which features a comical Thor-esque character shopping in the supermarket,[54] notably, he went on to direct Marvel Studios' Thor: Ragnarok years later.

  • "Moussaka Rap", Pot Noodle (2008)
  • "I Wish (That Girls Were More Like Pot Noodles)", Pot Noodle (2008)
  • "Back with no Appetite", Pot Noodle (2008)
  • "World Gone Sour (The Lost Kids)", Sour Patch Kids (2011)
  • "Simply The Best", Cadbury Dairy Milk (2011)
  • "Gold", Wispa (2011)
  • "Superbowl Brotherhood of Man", NBC (2012)
  • "Pure", Steinlager (2012)
  • "New Girl", Old Navy (2012)
  • "Why Choose?", Old Navy (2012)
  • "Australia Day", Lambnesia (2013)
  • "State Of The -Ation", Samsung (2013)
  • "MIDWULS", Optimum Cable (2013)
  • "Borg" Tesco (2013)
  • "Pierce Brosnan", Sky Ireland (2013)
  • "Blazed", New Zealand Transport Agency (2013)
  • "#HELLOBEER", Carlton (2013)
  • "The Kids Party", Nimble (2014)
  • "The Gas Bill", Nimble (2014)
  • "The Phone Bill", Nimble (2014)
  • "Laura", Stop Before You Start (2014)
  • "Toa", Stop Before You Start (2014)
  • "Tori", Stop Before You Start (2014)
  • "Jackson", Stop Before You Start (2014)
  • "Destiny", Stop Before You Start (2014)
  • "The Most Epic Safety Video Ever", Air New Zealand (2014)
  • "Watch It Over and Over", Nova Energy (2014)
  • "Tinnyvision", New Zealand Transport Agency (2015)
  • "Choose Your Trebor - Confessions", Trebor Mints (2015)
  • "Broadband Made Simple", 2degrees (2015)
  • "Taika's Appeal", New Zealand Human Rights Commission (2017)

ReceptionEdit

Critical responseEdit

Film Rotten Tomatoes Metacritic
Eagle vs Shark 54% (107 reviews)[55] 55 (25 reviews)[56]
Boy 87% (70 reviews)[57] 70 (19 reviews)[58]
What We Do in the Shadows 96% (163 reviews)[59] 76 (33 reviews)[60]
Hunt for the Wilderpeople 97% (178 reviews)[61] 81 (30 reviews)[62]
Thor: Ragnarok 92% (335 reviews)[63] 74 (51 reviews)[64]

Box office performanceEdit

Film Studio Release date Box office gross Budget Reference
New Zealand North America Worldwide
Eagle vs Shark Miramax 15 June 2007 (2007-06-15) $733,972 $221,846 $1,298,037 N/A [65]
Boy Transmission Films 25 March 2010 (2010-03-25) $6,750,042 $256,211 $8,621,535 N/A [66]
What We Do in the Shadows Madman Entertainment Two Canoes 19 January 2014 (2014-01-19) $2,001,400 $3,469,224 $6,263,224 $1.6 million [67]
Hunt for the Wilderpeople Madman Entertainment Piki Films 22 January 2016 (2016-01-22) $8,628,197 $5,205,468 $22,698,454 $2.5 million [68]
Thor: Ragnarok Marvel Studios 3 November 2017 (2017-11-03) $4,486,969 $294,865,064 $820,990,769 $180 million [69]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Taika Waititi Interview. Campus MovieFest Luminaries. 2 May 2012. Retrieved 9 May 2017 – via YouTube. 
  2. ^ Churchouse, Nick (24 April 2010). "Home Boy hit helps keep local cameras rolling". The Dominion Post. Retrieved 16 November 2011. 
  3. ^ "Boy Now Top Grossing NZ Film Of All Time". Voxy.co.nz. 20 May 2010. Retrieved 2 December 2011. 
  4. ^ "What are New Zealand's top five grossing local films of all time?". The New Zealand Herald. 9 June 2016. Retrieved 7 August 2018. 
  5. ^ a b "Taika Waititi". NZ On Screen.
  6. ^ Catherall, Sarah (10 December 2014). "My secret Wellington: Taika Waititi". Fairfax New Zealand. 
  7. ^ Tom Hunt (7 February 2012). "Taika Waititi reveals childhood passions". The Dominion Post. 
  8. ^ Elizabeth- cawobeth (3 March 2012). "'Boy' movie review, trailer: A charming New Zealand family movie". newjerseynewsroom.com. Retrieved 6 June 2012. 
  9. ^ Bloom, Nate (10 July 2007). "Interfaith Celebrities: Kyra Sedgwick, Baseball's Braun-y Interfaith Rookie and a Jewish Maori director". InterfaithFamily.com. Retrieved 2 December 2012. 
  10. ^ ITZKOFF, Dave (10 June 2008). "New in Town, Talking Funny". The New York Times. Retrieved 8 August 2018. 
  11. ^ "Billy T Award". NZ International Comedy Festival. Retrieved 8 August 2018. 
  12. ^ Borys Kit (15 March 2010). "Two kiwi actors join 'Green Lantern'". Reuters. Retrieved 12 February 2011. 
  13. ^ Lawrence, Derek. "Thor: Ragnarok director Taika Waititi to portray Korg in film". Entertainment Weekly. 
  14. ^ Harper, Joseph (31 August 2016). "48Hours: the weirdest and most brutalising film competition in the world returns". THE SPINOFF. Retrieved 9 August 2018. 
  15. ^ "Awards / Two Cars, One Night / Short Film". NZ On Screen. Retrieved 9 August 2018. 
  16. ^ Short Film Winners: 2005 Oscars - Oscars on YouTube
  17. ^ Gleiberman, Owen (13 June 2008). "Eagle vs Shark". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 9 August 2018. 
  18. ^ "The Eagle has landed". stuff.co.nz. 31 January 2009. Retrieved 9 August 2018. 
  19. ^ Loughrey, Clarisse (14 September 2016). "Taika Waititi interview: On Hunt for the Wilderpeople and the creative journey". The Independent. Retrieved 9 August 2018. 
  20. ^ RT Staff (2 December 2009). "2010 Sundance Film Festival Lineup Announced". rottentomatoes.com. Retrieved 2 December 2012. 
  21. ^ Calder, Peter (25 March 2010). "Boy". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 16 November 2011. 
  22. ^ Mitchell, Wendy (21 May 2010). "Waititi's Boy sets new record for New Zealand film". Screen Daily. screendaily.com. Retrieved 2 December 2011. 
  23. ^ Fox, Michael (11 May 2010). "Waititi releases new remixed Poi E video". stuff.co.nz. Retrieved 9 August 2018. 
  24. ^ "Interview with Taika Waititi". Marcus Lush. Auckland. 22 March 2010. ZM. Retrieved 2 December 2012. 
  25. ^ "Super City". TV3. Retrieved 2 December 2012. 
  26. ^ "mock documentary WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS". 17 December 2013. Retrieved 17 December 2013. 
  27. ^ "Sundance debut for Kiwi vampire spoof". 17 December 2013. Retrieved 17 December 2013. 
  28. ^ "SUNDANCE INSTITUTE COMPLETES FEATURE FILM LINEUP FOR 2016 SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL". sundance.org. 7 December 2015. Retrieved 6 January 2017. 
  29. ^ Sharf, Zack (4 April 2016). "Sundance Crowdpleaser 'Hunt for the Wilderpeople' Makes Box Office History in New Zealand". Indiewire.com. Retrieved 6 January 2017. 
  30. ^ "Taika Waititi behind Disney script 'Moana'". The New Zealand Herald. 21 October 2014. Retrieved 8 October 2015. 
  31. ^ Schmitz, Melanie (30 November 2016). "'Moana' Viewer Raises Thought-Provoking Questions About How We Talk About The Film". Romper. Retrieved 9 August 2018. 
  32. ^ Barton, Nicky. "2017 NEW ZEALANDER OF THE YEAR AWARDS WINNERS UPDATE". New Zealander of the Year Awards. Kiwibank. Retrieved 24 February 2017. 
  33. ^ Kit, Borys (2 October 2015). "'Thor 3' Finds Its Director". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on 2 October 2015. Retrieved 2 October 2015. 
  34. ^ Frater, Patrick (21 October 2015). "Marvel's 'Thor: Ragnarok' and Fox's 'Alien' To Shoot in Australia". Variety. Archived from the original on 22 October 2015. Retrieved 22 October 2015. 
  35. ^ "Taika Waititi to Co-Direct Michael Jackson Movie 'Bubbles'". The Hollywood Reporter. 11 February 2017. Retrieved 13 February 2017. 
  36. ^ Sharf, Zack (11 October 2017). "Taika Waititi Teases 'Akira' Film Adaptation, Says No One Has to Worry About Whitewashing". IndieWire. Retrieved 9 August 2018. 
  37. ^ O'Falt, Chris (2 November 2017). "'Thor: Ragnarok' Director Taika Waititi Confirms 'What We Do in the Shadows' Sequel". IndieWire. Retrieved 9 August 2018. 
  38. ^ "Scarlett Johansson to Star in Taika Waititi's 'Jojo Rabbit' for Fox Searchlight (EXCLUSIVE)". The Variety. 28 March 2018. Retrieved 9 August 2018. 
  39. ^ Twitter
  40. ^ Powley, Kathryn (3 June 2012). "Girl, not Boy, for director dad". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 5 February 2015. 
  41. ^ "Taika Waititi Fan Page". World of Taika. 
  42. ^ "Day One on Thor: Ragnarok". Taika Waititi. 6 July 2016. Retrieved 6 May 2018. 
  43. ^ Taika Waititi on Twitter
  44. ^ Horton, Perry (7 December 2016). "The Captain is a Hilarious and Harrowing Hangover". Film School Rejects. Retrieved 31 July 2017. 
  45. ^ Gonzalzes, Umberto (28 October 2016). "'Thor Ragnarok' Director Taika Waititi Behind 'Doctor Strange' Mid-Credit Scene". The Wrap. Retrieved 6 January 2017. 
  46. ^ Hunt, Elle (20 March 2017). "Taika Waititi on shaking up Thor and being a Hollywood outsider: 'They take this stuff so seriously'". The Guardian. Retrieved 29 July 2017. 
  47. ^ Lawrence, Derek (18 April 2017). "Thor: Ragnarok director Taika Waititi to portray Korg in film". Entertainment Weekly. Archived from the original on 18 April 2017. Retrieved 18 April 2017. 
  48. ^ Film, NZ (3 April 2017). "THE BREAKER UPPERERS BEGINS PRINCIPAL PHOTOGRAPHY". NZ FILM. Retrieved 31 July 2017. 
  49. ^ Donnelly, Matt (14 March 2018). "'Thor: Ragnarok' Director Taika Waititi to Play Imaginary Hitler in 'Jojo Rabbit' (Exclusive)". The Wrap. Retrieved 15 March 2018. 
  50. ^ Lane, Carly (19 December 2017). "What We Do in the Shadows spinoff TV series Wellington Paranormal will be a supernatural detective show". Syfy Wire. Retrieved 3 April 2018. 
  51. ^ Waititi, Taika (24 August 2017). "Stu & Carlo". Twitter. Retrieved 1 October 2017. 
  52. ^ "The Most Epic Safety Video Ever Made takes flight". media.newzealand.com. 23 October 2014. Retrieved 9 August 2018. 
  53. ^ New Zealand, Air (22 October 2014). "The Most Epic Safety Video Ever Made #AirNZSafetyVideo". Air New Zealand. Retrieved 31 July 2017. 
  54. ^ "Tesco - Dot Com". themill.com. Retrieved 9 August 2018. 
  55. ^ "Eagle vs Shark Movie Reviews, Pictures". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2 August 2017. 
  56. ^ "Eagle vs Shark Reviews, Ratings, Credits, and More at Metacritic". Metacritic.com. 2 August 2017. Retrieved 2 August 2017. 
  57. ^ "Boy Movie Reviews, Pictures". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 8 August 2018. 
  58. ^ "Boy Reviews, Ratings, Credits, and More at Metacritic". Metacritic.com. 2 August 2017. Retrieved 2 August 2017. 
  59. ^ "What We Do in the Shadows Movie Reviews, Pictures". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 8 August 2018. 
  60. ^ "What We Do in the Shadows Reviews, Ratings, Credits, and More at Metacritic". Metacritic.com. 2 August 2017. Retrieved 2 August 2017. 
  61. ^ "Hunt for the Wilderpeople Movie Reviews, Pictures". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 8 August 2018. 
  62. ^ "Hunt for the Wilderpeople Reviews, Ratings, Credits, and More at Metacritic". Metacritic.com. 2 August 2017. Retrieved 2 August 2017. 
  63. ^ "Thor: Ragnarok Movie Reviews, Pictures". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 8 August 2018. 
  64. ^ "Thor: Ragnarok Reviews, Ratings, Credits, and More at Metacritic". Metacritic.com. 2 August 2017. Retrieved 8 August 2018. 
  65. ^ "Eagle Vs. Shark". Box Office Mojo. 
  66. ^ "Boy (2012)". Box Office Mojo. 
  67. ^ "What We Do in the Shadows". Box Office Mojo. 
  68. ^ "Hunt for the Wilderpeople". Box Office Mojo. 
  69. ^ "Thor: Ragnarok". Box Office Mojo. 

External linksEdit