MARVEL Thor: Ragnarok Interview with Director Taika Waititi #ThorRagnarokEvent

We’re back with more interviews from the #ThorRagnarokEvent press trip (invited & hosted by Disney)! First up was Marvel President Kevin Feige and now we’ve got our fun interview with Director Taika Waititi. Taika Waititi is an actor, director, writer, and comedian from New Zealand.. And he NAILED it with his MARVEL debut!!!  You can read our Thor: Ragnarok Movie Review here. But, suffice it to say that I thought the movie was fantastic! We had the pleasure of seeing the film at the red carpet premiere and then interviewed Taika the following day. If you don’t want anything spoiled before you see the film, PLEASE wait to read this until after you’ve seen it! There are a few potential (minor) spoilers in this interview involving a surprise cameo scene, Loki, and Korg. So, while we’d LOVE to have you read this…we don’t want anything spoiled for you!!! You’ve been warned! 😉 
Thor Ragnarok Movie Poster

Q : What was it like jumping into a Marvel movie?

It was harrowing and exciting. When they offered me the chance to come and pitch on it, remember my experience before was making very independent films, you know, low budget, 25 day shoots, and my first reaction really was I guess this: ‘Marvel’s lost their mind or they’re just asking anyone to do anything.’ So yeah I was a little unsure if I really wanted to get out of my comfort zone, but I started feeling that I was already getting too comfortable and I wanted to start learning stuff. I didn’t start making films ’till I was about 28, 29; it wasn’t my big dream as a kid. I wasn’t like, you know, JJ and all these guys running around with super 8 cameras when they’re four years old. I caught it very late and kind of it like an arranged marriage. I forced myself to love it. So yeah, after eight years of making films I started feeling I was kind of treading water a little bit and I wanted to just keep upping the game and learning. Then I went and did the pitch with Marvel and they’re really amazing people…and I haven’t had any regrets.  Did you know that Taika is also IN the movie? In addition to directing this awesome film, Taika plays Korg – and his character is awesome and soooooo funny! So, we had to ask some questions about that!

Q : You’re in charge of this dreadnought of major characters, Thor and Hulk, and you have this pressure. Why also put yourself in it, to be a character, and add that pressure?

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“Because I’m a self-saboteur. Any chance I get to, you know, to put my career at risk I’ll just do it, you know. [Laugheter. Bloggers: “It was awesome.”] Thank you. I will wedge myself up in any film I do.” So funny! Taika went on to explain that he thinks he is really good at playing “mum” characters. Korg is the “mother of the prison”, looking after everyone. Audiences appreciate having someone down-to-earth and gentle as it allows us to take a step a back. And not only did he do it brilliantly, but it was ADLIBBED!!!!!  Q : How much of Korg’s dialogue was freestyle?

All of Korg’s dialogue was improvised. We would know certain pieces of information that we wanted to get across. In all of my films, we use the script as a kind of template, as a sort of suggestion for where we can go. We’ll do a version of it and then we’ll play around, spend another, you know, another hour or so just making stuff up, see if we can make it better. Because when you write dialogue six months before you shoot, you think it’s amazing at the time but, you don’t even know what will change or, maybe next week think, ‘this will be a bore.’ So yeah, it changes on the day. 

Basically, that was role I didn’t decide on playing until right the last minute and, ‘cause I didn’t really know what this character was going to be and what the point of this character was–still pointless–but the thing with Chris and I, we get on very well and a lot of the scenes in this film were ad libbed and there’s a lot of stuff in the film that’s ad libbed. The Korg scenes are SO funny! In fact, there are tons of scenes that are so funny in this movie! So, I had to ask about my favorite one – the cameo scene! So, I had to ask Taika about it…

Q : One of the scenes I loved was the Matt Damon scene. It was so funny!! How did you come up with the casting of that scene?

Originally there wasn’t supposed to be, like, cameos. For those of you who don’t know, the actor, Thor, is Lucas, Chris’ brother. What we wanted to do is, we didn’t want the audience to have rely on seeing the other movies (but if you had then it pays off). Yeah, but we like shot for shot copied the Loki death scene and, Thor too – you know the angle and the size [of the scene]. Matt came into it pretty late in the game. We weren’t sure exactly who we wanted for a while, but Chris and Matt are good mates and that was Chris’s suggestion. 

Q : Was there any performances that particularly surprised you? Obviously you knew who you were casting and why you casted them, but were their anybody who you were like, “I didn’t know that they were that good?”

Well I knew Jeff would be that good! But, my favorite performance is Chris’s because just knowing how fun he is…and how funny and he’s charming and he often is the kind of person who makes you feel like ‘oh, man if you actually were Thor than I would totally come and be with you.’ I just love having the opportunity to give him free range to just be himself and to be charming and to like be the favorite character. In particular, him and Mark I think together – when they’re bouncing off each other, I love that. We LOVED it too! Thor & Hulk/Bruce Banner together are HILARIOUS in the movie – it works SO well! Another thing that works so well in the movie is the music!!! So, we had to ask about that too!

Q : Immigrant song is such a perfect fit for the movie. Did you have that in mind? How did that come up?

When I went in for my pitch I made this sizzle reel  – basically ripped tiny clips from multiple movies to show a tone to them that is my idea for what the tone of the film would be and he entire thing was to Immigrant Song. I talked to Kevin about it. He’s like ‘yeah, I went and watched it, you know, a couple of times and that was one of the kind of strong points about your pitch.’ But anyway, because of that we kept the song and we were pretty much able to use it somehow in the film. And I couldn’t be happier that it’s in. I mean is it not the perfect song for the movie…about Thor?! 

 And it IS the perfect song! I even talked about that in my movie review! You can hear the song in the teaser trailer here:

Q : There was less mischief from Loki this time around. Did you want to see more mischief come through? Did you cut a lot of that out? 

If you come to expect it too much you know, it’s too predictable. That’s the thing about Marvel, the decisions they make, the stories also and directors, you know. It’s like the most unexpected choice was me to direct this film…even for me. So I think if it gets predictable, you come into the movies and you’re like ”Loki’s doing the same thing’ and I don’t think it’s as satisfying as seeing that character come through the other end of a true story, you know, of the three movies. So it’s a satisfying story act in Ragnarok – Thor and Loki – and seeing finally how two brothers can get over their crap. You know, that was something that I thought, ‘yeah, ‘cause that’s actually what life is about.’ It sometimes does take 15 years to, you know, to decide if you like someone or not.  So, make plans to see Thor: Ragnarok in theaters 11.3.17!!!! As Taika shared, “I want people to come out of the cinema smiling. The world is crazy right now. It’s nice to go away, smile, laugh,  get a little bit of an escape ‘cause, you know, there’s nothing wrong with that.” It really is a very enjoyable way to spend a couple hours! Disclosure: Disney hosted me in LA in order to attend the film screenings and to participate in group interviews & media events. As always, all opinions, experiences, and love of Disney are entirely my own! All photos above are courtesy of Disney/Marvel and Allison Waken at Allfortheboys.com

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