16 Feb 2018

Taika Waititi is casting his new WWII film

11:30 am on 16 February 2018

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It’s getting difficult to keep track of how many pies Taika Waititi has his finger in.

Coming off the back of the wildly successful (and wickedly cool) “Thor: Ragnarok”, the director/writer/producer/actor has a plethora of new projects on the go.

There’s the upcoming TV spinoff to “What We Do in The Shadows” - “Wellington Paranormal” - that he’s developing with his bro and fellow writer/director Jemaine Clement. That‘ll be a follow-up mockumentary about the film’s police officers, Mike Minogue and Karen O'Leary.

He’s also helping produce a US TV adaptation of the 2014 vampire film.

Oh, and Clement and Waititi are also working on a sequel currently titled “We’re Wolves.”

What else? Well, he’s been cast as a voice actor in the dark comedy animation film “Corpse Tub”, which also features comedian Kate Micucci and Rick and Morty creator Dan Harmon.

Plus, his project “Bubbles” - an animated film about Michael Jackson’s pet chimp - has been purchased by Netflix.

Aaaand he’s executive producing “The Breaker Upperers”, a New Zealand comedy starring Jackie van Beek and Madeleine Sami. A new trailer dropped this week to great hype:

There’s something else you can add to the workaholic’s schedule.

This week the newspaper The Jewish Chronicle reported casting had begun on a new film called ‘JoJo Rabbit.’

“Shooting is scheduled to start in Europe in May on ‘JoJo Rabbit’, a satire about a ten-year-old-boy trying to fit in to life in Nazi Germany with the help of an imaginary friend,” the story reports.

“The film is being produced by 20th Century Fox and will be directed by New Zealander Taika Waititi, whose credits include the Marvel Comics-based superhero film ‘Thor: Ragnarok.’”

Word about a release date is still a long way off.

Taika Waititi.

Taika Waititi. Photo: RNZ/Claire Eastham-Farrelly

Some extensive researching by The Wireless (we Googled it) discovered more enticing details about “JoJo Rabbit.”

In 2012, Waititi’s script was named on The Black List - an annual list of great unproduced scripts picked by studio and production company executives. Scripts recently named on The Black List that were later produced as successful films include “Spotlight”, “Juno”, “The King’s Speech”, “The Revenant”, “Hell or High Water” and “Slumdog Millionaire.”

“JoJo Rabbit” was ranked 12th on the list, and had this synopsis: “After being severely hurt by a grenade at Hitler youth camp, a prideful and nationalistic 10-year-old boy discovers that his mother is hiding a 15-year-old Jewish girl in their house.”

Waititi’s wife and collaborator on many of his projects, Chelsea Winstanley, was named as a co-producer.

A snap of Taika's original script.

A snap of Taika's original script. Photo: Twitter/Thespi Guatieri

Late last year, a brief note in Vanity Fair mentioned “Jojo Rabbit” had been greenlit by Fox Searchlight, the specialty division of 21st Century Fox.

“We believe in Taika as a filmmaker, and we felt like this was a movie where we can make it on our scale and the right way ... he doesn’t have to sand off the edges, doesn’t have to change the humor,” said Matthew Greenfield, a co-head of Fox Searchlight.

“JoJo Rabbit” is based on the book Caging Skies, written by Belgian/New Zealand author Christine Leunens. The book was adapted into a play by Desirée Gezentsvey and shown at Wellington’s Circa Theatre last August and September.

Publisher Penguin describes the book as “a gripping, atmospheric novel about obsession and love”.

“This extraordinary novel is seen through the eyes of Johannes. An avid member of the Hitler Youth in the 1940s, he discovers his parents are hiding a Jewish girl called Elsa behind a false wall in their large house in Vienna. His initial horror turns to interest, then love and obsession.”