It’s been a whirlwind since my visit to LA for the red carpet premiere of Thor: Ragnarok. I had the opportunity to interview so many incredible talents and attend the Thor: Ragnarok press conference. Among the interviews for the film, I had the chance to sit in on a roundtable interview with Taika Waititi, Director of Thor: Ragnarok and also the talent who played Korg, the rock monster who you’re soon to meet.
Looking for interviews? Check out my interviews with President of Marvel Studios Kevin Feige, Karl Urban (Skurge), and live on Monday at 9 am EST Rachel House (Topaz). You can also check out my coverage of the media press conference, and my spoiler-free review here.
Thor: Ragnarok is in theaters now!
Taika was an absolute delight to be around. He’s the kind of guy who’s full of energy and humor, you can just sense that about him, that he has a very creative way of seeing things. His presence and smile lit the room. I’d be willing to bet that he does that a lot.
Have you seen my SPOILER-FREE Thor: Ragnarok review? And stay up to date on all the latest images and posters here.
So what did Taika have to say about working on Thor: Ragnarok? There were a lot of questions for Taika. We talked about jumping into his first Marvel film, about improving dialogue, working with two epic heroes Thor and the Hulk, the overall look of the film, surprising performances and Loki’s character (compared to past Loki characters). Here’s what Taika had to say on these topics:
Taika Waititi Interview for Thor: Ragnarok
Much like Guardians of the Galaxy, this film is other-worldly. I’ve always been intrigued by the process behind making a film like this. From the worlds right down the color schemes and costuming. Everything about Thor: Ragnarok is complete eye candy. So what’s it like jumping into a film of this magnitude for a director who’s new to the MCU? Taika talks about hitting the ground running on one of Marvel’s biggest projects yet.
Taika on directing his first Marvel film
“Marvel company lost their mind or they’re just asking anyone to do anything.
It was heroing and exciting. When they offered me the chance to come and pitch on it, my experience was making very independent films, you know, low budget, 25 day shoots and my first reaction really was, Marvel company lost their mind or they’re just asking anyone to do anything.
I was really unsure if I really wanted to get out of my comfort zone. But then I started feeling with my other films that I was getting too comfortable. And I wanted to start learning new stuff because I didn’t start making films until I was about 28 or 29. I came in very late, it was like an arranged marraige I sort of forced myself to love it. After years of making films, I wanted to just keep learning. A lot of people think it’s been about pitching stories. I just think it’s just about sussing each other, figuring out if you wanna hang out for two years. I haven’t had any regrets. We went to the Marvel offices and they were really great and straight with me and I’ve had no regrets since.
It’s one thing to direct your first Marvel film, it’s another to take on two epic superheroes. Especially when you come from independent film, short shoots, and lower budgets. Here’s what Taika had to say about that.
Taika on taking on two EPIC sized Marvel characters, Thor and the Hulk for his first Marvel film
“I am a self-saboteur! Any chance I get to put my career at risk I’ll just do it. I will wage myself in any film I do.
I am a self sabetour! Any chance I get to put my career at risk I’ll just do it. I will wage myself in any film I do. But all jokes aside, he stated, “With Sakaar and with so many eclectic characters and crazy elements in this film you often need something grounding for an audience.
Taika stars in this film as the Rock Monster Korg. It’s a very small role, but one that may easily steal the show. You’ll find out more on that when you see it in theaters. Taika talks about Korg, all the improv on set and ruining takes more than anyone should.
Taika on Korg, improv and ruining takes
“A lot of the scenes in this film were ad-libbed.
I feel that I’m really good at playing mum characters. Korg is very much the mother of the prison and yeah looks after everyone. I think audiences, appreciate having someone that’s just down to earth and gentle ‘cause you need that. The film is crazy so it takes it back every now and then.
All of Korg’s dialouge was improvised. We would know pieces of information that we wanted to get across. Does Korg give any useful information at all? That’s a role I didn’t decide on playing until the last minute. No one really knew what the point of this charcter was, he’s still pointless! The thing with Chris and I we get on very well, and a lot of the scenes in this film were ad-libbed. We used the script on the film as a sort of a template suggestion for where we could go. We’d do a version of it and then we’d play around, spend another minute you know, just making stuff up because, I mean 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. Everything changes on the day
“I ruined multiple takes by constantly laughing
I ruined multiple takes by being in front of the camera or laughing off screen. The way I do it is I’m the closest to the actors and just stand there going, “say this, say this, say this”. Poke them in the shoulder, and that’s a real God complex problem. You know you can just like manipulate people. Like, I can’t believe I’m making Anthony Hopkins say whatever I want.
“I can’t believe I’m making Anthony Hopkins say whatever I want.
No one will ever forget the theme song to Thor: Ragnarok, especially since it is a timeless piece by Led Zepplin. There’s something about this song that gets me going as soon as I hear it. It’s perfect for the film and only a man like Taika would know that before anyone else.
Taika on Immigrant Song by Led Zepplin
“I couldn’t be happier that it’s in the film. I mean it’s the perfect song for the movie about Thor.
I’m a massive fan, I actually have to return all my mum’s records, ever since I was a kid I listened to all the Led Zepplin LPs and all my mum’s records. When I went in for my pitch I made this sizzle reel which is like, I basically ripped tiny clips from multiple movies to show a tone of what the film would be and it was from Sixteen Candles, to Big Trouble in Little China, and the entire thing was to Immigrant Song. So playing this whole clip at the end I talked to Kevin about it and Kevin actually said it was one of teh strong points about my pitch. It was either him or another one of the execs said: “wow, that’s cool”. I was like okay! I couldn’t be happier that it’s in the film. I mean it’s the perfect song for the movie! It’s about Thor!
As soon as I saw the bright colors of Thor: Ragnarok, I was immediately brought back to Guardians of the Galaxy, Star Wars and all things 80’s. Since this basically sums op my favorite things in life, you can imagine I was mesmerized by the scenes. So where did it all come from? Taika that’s who!
Taika on the color and animation and feel of the film
“I’m Daniel LaRusso!” I’m gonna jump on tiger and try to do the crane kick and fall off and break my arm!
When I was a kid I played with comics but I was obsessed with the really weird comics, like really colorful splash pages and stupid crazy characters. I kind of felt like there is a trend lately that a lot of movies, not just superhero movies, but a lot of movies are just bursting out too seriously.
I remember movies as a kid. You know, I’m watching Karate Kid and running out of the field saying, “I’m Daniel LaRusso!” I’m gonna jump on tiger and try to do the crane kick and fall off and break my arm!” And, you know, so that’s what I wanted to inspire kids to do! (Jokes).
But seriously, I hope people come out of the cinema smiling ‘cause you can go to any cinema in town and no one comes out smiling anymore. Also because they spent ten dollars for parking and 80 bucks for the babysitter. The world is crazy right now. It’s nice to go away, smile, laugh, you know, get a little bit of an escape ‘cause, you know, there’s nothing wrong with it.
It’s hard to find a favorite performance when all the characters are your babies in a film. But Taika did not hesitate to share his favorite and why he felt so close to the development of this character.
Taika on surprising performances
“My favorite performance is Chris’s performance.
Well, I knew Jeff would be that good. My favorite performance is Chris’s performance because just knowing how fun he is and funny and charming, and he often is the kind of person who makes you feel like, “oh, man if you actually were Thor I would totally come on an adventure with you. I just love having the opportunity to give him free rein to just be himself and to be charming and to be the favorite character. Particularly him and Mark I think when they’re bouncing off each other I love that.
Without spoiling anything, Loki takes on a different kind of role in this film. I couldn’t help but ask what brought that about and where is it going? It’s nice to see characters evolve, and I’m excited to see what’s in store for Loki and Thor in the next film.
Taika on Loki’s character disposition in comparison to Loki’s past roles
“One of the most satisfying relationships and story acts in Thor: Ragnarok is seeing Thor and Loki and how finally two brothers can get over their crap.
It’s like the most unexpected choice was for me to direct this film, even for me! So I think if it gets predictable you come into the movies and you’re seeing Loki doing the same thing. I don’t think it’s as satisfying as seeing that character come through the other end of a true story arch, you know, three movies. One of the most satisfying relationships and story acts in Thor: Ragnarok is seeing Thor and Loki and how finally two brothers can get over their crap. 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.
Thor: Ragnarok is awesome! I highly encourage you to see it in theaters this week!
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