Interview: Taika Waititi and Jaiyah Saelua Talk Next Goal Wins

We talk with Taika Waititi and Jaiyah Saelua, one of the real life inspirations behind his latest, Next Goal Wins

Last Updated on November 22, 2023

Taika Waititi makes charming flicks. His latest is no exception. Next Goal Wins tells the underdog story of the American Samoa’s soccer team – based on the 2014 documentary with the same name. And yes, it has a ton of heart, great characters, and it kinda (sorta) tells the true tale. At least that’s what the opening of the film tells us. Either way, the Michael Fassbender-led feature also stars an impressive cast including Oscar Knightley, Kaimana Jaiyah, Beulah Koale, Will Arnett, and Elisabeth Moss. This flick has a ton of heart.

Recently, I had the honor of speaking to both Taika Waititi, and one of the inspirations behind the new flick, Jaiyah Saelua. She is included in one of the best storylines in the new film revolves around the relationship between Fassbender’s Thomas Rongen and Kaimana Jaiyah’s take on Saelua. So much so that I wondered if she had played a role as a creative consultant . Either way, the two discussed the terrific new feature that will likely bring a smile to fans of Mr. Waititi, who, it should be noted, spent years working on this movie (it was filmed before the last Thor movie).

Next Goal Wins is in theatres now. Read our review here.


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JimmyO is one of’s longest-tenured writers, with him reviewing movies and interviewing celebrities since 2007 as the site’s Los Angeles correspondent.