Taika Waititi Specifically Didn't Research His Character to Ridicule the Real-Life Prototype

Taika Waititi Specifically Didn't Research His Character to Ridicule the Real-Life Prototype
Image credit: Searchlight Pictures

While typically, researching your character’s real-life prototype is a must, for this one movie, Taika Waititi resented the person behind his role so much he refused to do it.

The hardest thing about acting is, obviously, making your act believable. There are two ways to achieve it: some performers are very conscious about the tiniest details, and others resort to method acting and embrace their character’s mentality. There are hardly any other ways to make one’s performance truly lifelike. But there’s a “but.”

With characters that are based on real-life people, there’s another workaround. An actor who’s supposed to portray a historical or even living person can research them and gather a lot more information to later incorporate into their act, making it all the more believable. This approach is quite handy and can yield great results.

However, it’s not every time that a performer wants to do that, you know? There are some people you really don’t want to learn more about just because you resent them. This is exactly what Taika Waititi felt when he was preparing for his role of Adolf Hitler in Jojo Rabbit, the movie he also wrote and directed himself.

“I did zero to no research about Hitler. I remember looking up books about Hitler on Amazon. I didn’t want to spend the money because I was like, ‘Out of principle, I don’t want to spend money on the a-hole.’ Then I was like, ‘I don’t even want to read about him.’ I don’t care about his life. I don’t care why he did things. I don’t care about the motives behind anything. I just don’t care about him,” Waititi told GQ.

This resentment went hand-in-hand with one of the main reasons Taika Waititi decided to make Jojo Rabbit in the first place: he wanted to turn the most notorious dictator in history into a joke. Jojo Rabbit ridiculed the very idea of Adolf Hitler, and for that, no actual research was needed, so Waititi was more than glad to skip it.

“I also wanted to ridicule him. I wanted to lambast him, you know, even beyond the grave. I was hoping that <...> his spirit, what’s left of it, that I could somehow just humiliate him and piss him off even more from the grave,” the director and actor explained.

Well, it’s safe to say that Taika Waititi was absolutely successful in this endeavor, and the movie came out exactly like he wanted: it ridiculed the very idea of Hitler. And along the way, the director also created one of the best films of the decade, so there’s that. But we don’t think that “Don’t do your research” is the lesson here.

Source: GQ via YouTube