From his breakout hit Boy to starring in next year’s blockbuster Green Lantern, New Zealand filmmaker Taika Waititi is a shining light in Hollywood. The 35-year-old Maori writer, director, producer and artist first burst onto the scene in 2004 with his Oscar-nominated short film Two Cars, One Night and followed that success in 2007 with his debut feature Eagle Vs Shark. It starred his close friend Jermaine Clement of Flight Of The Conchords fame and Waititi also came on board to write and direct several episodes of the hit show. But it is his latest film Boy that is truly putting him on the world stage.
Whilst in competition at the prestigious Sundance film festival earlier this year, executives from Warner Brothers Studio saw Waititi performing in Boy and quickly approached him about a role in Green Lantern. Despite coming from an acting background in live theatre and perfoming in a comedy troupe with Jermaine, Waititi said it was strange to give up the creative reigns and return to performing.
“They saw Boy and were looking for someone to play this character, so I read for it and then suddenly I was an actor again,” he said.
“It was weird because it wasn’t part of the plan for me. I just wanted to do my thing and keep making films and be a director.
“It was very, very weird and I found it kind of strange to go from someone whose been in control for ages to sitting around on set waiting for your scene.
“Your part of it, but your also not part of it.
“It was fucking weird to be honest, but I loved it and watching how everything is done.”
Green Lantern is the $150m mega blockbuster based on the DC Comics series of the same name and stars Ryan Reynolds in the title role. Waititi said he plays the role of Green Lantern’s faithful sidekick Thomas Kalmaku in the film.
“I can’t even pronounce his name properly because he’s supposed to be of Native American heritage,” he said.
“He doesn’t have any powers or do any of the action scenes.
“It’s basically that….the guy is like a tech geek. That old chestnut.
“It’s not a giant role or anything and you never know if you’re still going to be in it at the end of the movie.
“While I was shooting I was thinking, as a filmmaker, you don’t really need this scene. But I wasn’t going to tell them that.”
Tipped as being the biggest blockbuster of 2015, there has been a lot of hype surrounding the special effects used on Green Lantern. Reynolds suit, for instance, is being created using CGI technology and will constantly evolve throughout the film. Although Waititi said he didn’t get to see what the suit looked like during filming, what he did see of the production was `amazing’.
“I haven’t seen any of the suit stuff because they hadn’t even decided what the suit was going to look like when we were shooting,” he said.
“They’ve had almost a year since filming to develop that now, but the art I saw was amazing. “It’s going to look incredible.
“That was very exciting for me because although I saw some of the green screen stuff, there’s no way to imagine what it’s going to look like.
“I just gave up and said my lines.
“I imagined it would look awesome down the track but at that moment it was just a bunch of weird people in normal clothes standing around with cameras.
“I wasn’t even in those scenes, I just went to watch their spotted-suit acting.”
Being involved in one of the most highly anticipated comic-book movies was a dream come true for Waititi (above), who said he used to `collect comics’ when he was younger.
“I was not really into the Green Lantern mythology, but I was more of a Batman guy,” he said. “Batman was just a guy with determination who was badass and good at beating people up and fighting.
“He had the dark past and that appealed to me.
“I was a little bit into X-Men, but it got quite complicated with all the characters.”
But don’t get too excited, because Waititi said he is not likely return to the superhero genre anytime soon.
“It’s not really my style,” he said.
“I’m better suited to these character pieces and its sort of my background.
“There’s less stress and less stuff that’s over my head.”
P.S. Here is where. I chatted with the friendly P-Thugg (above right) from electrofunk duo Chromeo yesterday about music, movies, his BFF Dave 1 (above left) and asked the question a legion of Yo Gabba Gabba fans have been wanting to know - does he wash his hands?
“Yeah, always,” he said.
So, now that’s settled, here are his favourite movies:
“Scarface, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Ghost Busters, Beverley Hills Cop and Naked Gun.”
For those who haven’t been exposed to their brilliance before, I suggest you check out Chromeo’s video for their ridiculously catchy new song Don’t Turn The Lights On, off their forthcoming album Business Casual.