Following the release of his successful film Thor: Ragnarok, Taika Waititi’s Jojo Rabbit raises controversies by retelling stories featuring the dictator Adolf Hitler as a young boy’s imaginary best friend.
The director together with the film’s producer, Carthew Neal, and some of the movie cast, Roman Griffin Davis, Thomasin McKenzie and Alfie Allen, took some time off from their busy schedule to have a chat with Deadline’s The Contenders London. Waititi told the news outlet that the conception of the movie began in 2010 with the book that his mother was reading, a book called Caging Skies by Christine Leunens.
Waititi said that he read the book. It was about a boy who was “indoctrinated to Hitler youth”. He found out that his mother was hiding a Jewish girl in the attic. But since the boy did not have any chance to meet a Jew in person, what he had in mind were the images in the books and propaganda which are being handed out to children. He was imagining a monster in the attic and tried to consider what to do with it. Waititi, of course, added a bit of his humor to the story.
The director, who also played Adolf Hitler in the film, answered the question of why he added the controversial character. He cleared that Hitler in the film just only comes from the imagination of the title character, Jojo, and the possibility of what the boy could become. He said that he would like to show the audience that version of Jojo who gives the younger boy terrible advice and tries to pull him again to the dark side despite changing for the better while getting closer to the Jewish girl.
Waititi shared that he tried to look for the perfect actor who will portray Hitler in the film, but he had this realization that he is the perfect actor to play the role. “Sometimes, what you’re seeking is staring at you in the mirror,” the director said humorously.
Meanwhile, Thomasin McKenzie, the actress who played Elsa Korr in Taika Waititi’s Jojo Rabbit, shared that the friendship between her character and Jojo symbolizes hope in the film and hope for the future.
Waititi then recalled that someone told him that adding humor to the subject matter was a bold move. He responded with “Yeah, I know. Because it’s only been 80 years since The Great Dictator…” and added that it is important to keep telling those kinds of stories with new and inventive ways in order to keep the stories alive, to keep the people interested and “to keep the overall message true, which is a message of tolerance, and acceptance, and love.”
Taika Waititi’s Jojo Rabbit hit theaters last October 18, 2019.