Over the top characters, that Taika draws on the face, going through his own filmography also with his face, between unthinkable grimaces and circumstantial smiles, while everything whirls around him madly. Let’s go and see the craziest roles of Taika Waititi, and its best interpretations.
Alex – Scarfies (1999)
Let’s start with Taika Waititi when he was still Taika Cohen. He used his mother’s last name, and in Robert Sarkies’ super indie film he was a cheeky young man. Little budget and lots of ideas for a deeply New Zealand film, where five boys find themselves occupying a hovel. Maybe they didn’t expect some surprise in the basement. But let’s focus on our future director. Because Taika still manages to stand out with his Alex, building it with all those grimaces and those drawn smiles on which it will develop many future characters. Between the easy-going and the rascal, Taika begins to put small bricks of his career, wearing a classic “slap face” which, however, it is impossible not to fall in love with.
Alamein – Boy (2010)
It is in his second film that Taika Waititi builds himself a complete role. Distorted parent, among tree skeletons in New Zealand. Because Boy is a boy convinced that Alamein, his father, is a noble pirate, or a war hero, the idol to cling to in difficult times. But Taika Waititi knows very well how to mix madness and feeling, tapping his Alamein with snappy and annoying brush strokes, which Boy would like to make his own. After all, who doesn’t dream of becoming like their father? Taika takes up his wooden machine gun and rolls in the sand of time, the one he lost with his son, and that his “daredevil” nature prevents him from recovering. Still, he tries. It gets dirty, digging into the pits of one’s life hoping to bring out the hidden treasure. An arid and sentimental interpretation, lived on a skin torn from denim jackets. And in the end, all you had to do was sit down together. And be yourself.
Viago – What We Do in the Shadows (2014)
If you think aboutabsolute comic skill of Taika Waititi his Viago immediately comes to mind. What We Do in the Shadows is the definitive reinterpretation of vampires, the ingenious vein that spurts arterial blood all over the room. Gashing our faces with laughter. And in the midst of rampant madness there is the character played by Taika Waititi. Quiet, resigned, laid. A sort of cicisbeo vampire.
He has to do house cleaning (and force his vampire tenants to wash the dishes), but he also has to kill young virgins to drink their blood. Taika’s absolute skill lies in the unsaid, in the half-mouthed grimaces, in his feeling always and in any case out of place. Feeling that passes us simply with a look, full of irreverent and sweet comedy.
The priest – Savages on the run (2016)
Simple cameo but … Taika Waititi never does anything simple. Especially if he has to condense all his black humor into one scene. During a funeral damn badly heard in the film economy, Taika appears with an expression of dreamy boredom, helped by a very poorly groomed beard and hair. Faced with the classic religious discourse on having to accept death, he launches himself into a kind of obstacle course talking about a door. Then another door. And another that should be there later. In the middle? Well, what else if not Fanta, Doritos, Coca Zero, labyrinths designed by wolves and, perhaps, even Jesus, hidden somewhere. Without ever losing the aplomb, halfway between someone who really believes it and who it seems is simply making fun of you. Here, in two minutes, Taika Waititi.
Hitler – Jojo Rabbit
And we come to the consecration to the general public. Why in that jewel of Jojo Rabbit the good Taika Waititi has decided to carve out the best (and worst) part: Adolf Hitler. That is, a Hitler … “Waititian”. Above all possible lines, unicorn-eater, imaginary friend, helper and villain at the same time. Taika spreads cinema from every pore, and knowingly decides to squeeze his Dictator into a lanky, dumb figure, so unreal as to weaken the very essence of the Fuhrer. He manages to do it with his facial expression exaggerated to the extreme, between puffing grimaces and half-mouthed smiles. Because already hiring a kid who has Hitler as an imaginary friend does half the job, Taika Waititi takes the rest. Mixing writing and interpretation, the New Zealander performs a painstaking work scene after scene. Even his German accent manages not to be spotty in his being, of course, splendidly parodic.
Camei and CGI
Also in his first film – Eagle vs Shark – dear Taika had carved out a mini cameo (in family photos and films), leaving room for his partner-in-crime Jemaine Clement. But it is with the arrival of Marvel that it divides itself by covering itself with CGI. First with Surtur (that is, his version of Surtur): Taika has in fact worn the role of the fiery demon with motion capture, leaving the voice to the much darker Clancy Brown.
Then it’s Korg’s turn, where Waititi puts all his boyish comedy in the writing of the character, also lending him the vocal cords and carrying him in Endgame and (surely) in Love and Thunder.
A big boy made of stone that could literally break anyone, but with a golden heart, ready to become Thor’s best friend in times of need. That then he can accompany him on his descent towards alcoholism, obesity and Fortnite, well, that’s not his fault.
Because Taika Waititi is like this, the crazy and brilliant friend, the one who passes by the holy man of Seven Stages to Achieve Eternal Bliss to the droid in The Mandalorian. In the end Taika Waititi in his interpretations is like Phoebe in Friends: adorably crazy, but able to stay one step ahead of everyone.