On October 9 – 11 I attended a Disney Press Event for Thor: Ragnarok. My hotel and airfare and meals were taken care of while I was in L.A. Opinions and observations as well as recaps and such are all my own. This post will also contain some affiliate links to Amazon.com.
The night before this interview with director Taika Waititi we all saw the movie, Thor: Ragnarok in a packed theater with the cast and the feeling was electric. I had been excited to talk with Taika since the moment I learned I’d be interviewing him. I was most interested in asking him about Korg, the character he plays in the movie. Taika is the second Marvel director to have a role in a Marvel movie, the first being Jon Farveau as Happy Hogan.
Taika was a fun interview. I had not known much about him prior to this movie. I’ve ever seen any of his films before but after seeing Thor: Ragnarok and interviewing Taika I want to see more of his work. More of the interview below.
The first question was asked about what it was like going from independent film to a huge studio movie for Marvel. Taika explained, “It was harrowing and exciting. When they offered me the chance to come and pitch on it my experience was making four very independent films with low budgets, 25 days shoots and my first reaction was that ‘Oh well, this Marvel company has lost their mind and they are just asking anyone to do anything now.’” He went on to say, “the thing with the pitch is that a lot of people think it’s about pitching stories and stuff. I actually think it is just about sussing each other out. Figuring out if you want to hang out for two years. So we hung out in the Marvel offices and they were really great and straight up with me and yeah, I haven’t had any regrets.“
In this interview I jumped in right away. I asked Taika a question about Korg in the only way I know how, convoluted. I said, “So, you’re in charge of this dreadnought of major characters Thor and Hulk. And You’ve got this pressure, so why put yourself in it to do a character and add that pressure?” I’ve got to learn to be more direct with my questions. Taika quipped, “Ah, because I’m a self-saboteur. any chance I get to put my career at risk, I’ll just do it.” I then said, “Korg was awesome!” I really liked the character. I had read the Planet Hulk comics and I was eager to see how Taika would play this character and it was unlike anything I had in my mind and that was such a pleasant surprise. Taika continued, “With that planet, Sakaar and so many eclectic character and crazy elements in this film you often need something grounding for an audience. I feel really good at playing mum characters so in What We Do in the Shadows, this vampire film that we did where my character in that is the mother of the house and he like really brings the documentary crew through and looks after them and Korg is very much the mother of the prison and 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 take a step back every now and then.“
More Korg questions were asked including, “How much of Korg’s dialogue did you have to do with directly was it freestyle?” Taika said, “All of Korg’s dialogue was improvised. We would know certain pieces of information that we wanted to get across. Does Korg give any useful information at all? No. that was a role I didn’t decide on playing until the last minute and ‘cause no one really know who this character would be and what the point of the character was, so pointless. The thing with Chris [Hemsworth] and I we, you know, we get on very well and a lot of the scenes in this film were adlibbed and there’s a lot of stuff in the film that’s adlibbed. I used the script as a kind of template, as a sort of suggestion for where we can go. We’ll do a version of it and then we’ll play around an hour or so just making stuff. Because 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 or it might be a bore, so everything changes on the day.“
When asked about adlibbing and enjoying himself on set Taika was asked, So were you constantly laughing?. He replied, “I ruined most of the takes by either being in front of the camera or laughing off screen. ‘Cause the way I direct is I’m this close to the actors [mimes very close] and just stare at them and say, ‘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 a puppeteer. ‘I can’t believe I’m making Anthony Hopkins whatever I want.’ So yeah, it really goes to your head pretty quick.“
When asked about the songs in the movie we had to ask about Immigrant Song by Led Zeppelin and whether Taika had that in mind from the beginning.
Taika explained, “When I went in for my pitch, a massive fan. I’ve actually got to return all my mum’s records. Ever since I was a kid I listened to all the Led Zep LPs and all my mum’s records. I went to the pitch and I made this sizzle reel which is like I basically ripped tiny clips from multiple movies to show a tone that was my idea for what the tone of the film would be everything from Sixteen Candles, to Big Trouble in Little China, and the entire thing was to Immigrant Song.” He went on to say that Kevin watched it a couple more times and because of the pitch everyone became obsessed with the song and wanted to use it somehow in the film. Personally I can’t see why it wasn’t used in earlier Thor movies, it is the perfect song for a Thor movie.
Thor: Ragnarok is such a colorful movie. Taika explained where his influences came from for that. “When I was a kid I collected 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 was a trend lately that – not just superhero movies but a lot of movies were just depressing and sad and took themselves too seriously. I remember going to the movies as a kid. I’m watching Karate Kid and running out of the theater thinking, ‘I’m Daniel LaRusso. I’m gonna jump on playground and try to do the crane kick and fall off and break my arm.’ I hope people come out of the cinema smiling ’cause you can go to any cinema in town no one comes out of smiling anymore. The world is crazy right now. It’s nice to go away, smile, laugh, get a little bit of an escape ’cause, there’s nothing wrong with it.“
One of the last questions was about the performances and if any particular performance surprised Taika. He stated, “Well I knew Jeff would be that good. But, my favorite performance is Chris’s performance because just knowing how fun he is and how funny and he’s charming. He is the kind of person where 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 range to just be himself and to be charming and to be the favorite character. And particularly him and Mark, I think together, when they’re bouncing off each other I love that.“
Taika was fun, charming and at the end he took a photo with us and even got a little goofy when taking the photos. I loved this interview very much and told him how much I loved the movie.
Like THOR: RAGNAROK on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Thor/
Follow THOR: RAGNAROK on Twitter: https://twitter.com/thorofficial
Follow Marvel on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/marvelstudios/
THOR: RAGNAROK opens in theaters everywhere November 3rd!
Copyright (c) 2020 BenSpark Family Adventures