Taika Waititi worries about becoming obsolete

Director Taika Waititi has an Academy Award and Marvel Cinematic Universe credits to his name…but will he be remembered?

Last Updated on February 26, 2024

Taika Waititi

Director Taika David Cohen – that’s Taika Waititi to you and me – has been on the scene for over 20 years, making a splash with an Academy Award-nominated short film (Two Cars, One Night) before heading off to Sundance with 2007’s quirky indie Eagle vs Shark. From there, he co-directed (with Jemaine Clement) one of the funniest mockumentaries ever in What We Do in the Shadows before landing one of the most prestigious jobs in the major studio system, directing for Marvel. The result: the two highest grossing films in the Thor franchise. Oh, and there’s an Oscar in there somewhere, too… But what will it all amount to? In a new profile, that’s just what he’s worried about.

Speaking with The Hollywood Reporter, director Taika Waititi said, “I’m 47. My God, take the pressure off. People are so obsessed with likes or leaving behind a legacy, being remembered. Here’s the thing: No one’s going to remember us. What’s the name of the director of Casablanca? Arguably one of the greatest films of all time. No one knows his name. How the fuck do I expect to be remembered? So who cares? Let’s just live, make some movies.” For what it’s worth, Michael Curtiz directed Casablanca, earning the Oscar for Best Director. No, I didn’t have to look it up—did you?

On how far the shelf life of directors and their work extends, Taika Waititi said, “They’ll be obsolete and irrelevant in 15 or 20 years. And so will I, and then I’ll die and someone else can do it. This whole idea of chasing, chasing, chasing this life. It’s like, do we have to actually work this hard? Maybe not.”

Part of Taika Waititi’s comments point directly at content creators on social media hustling for likes and subscribers, but there seems to be some misjudgment about movies, especially when looking at his work ethic as a writer, director, actor, and producer. In the past decade, Waititi has helmed six feature films, including Hunt for the Wilderpeople, Jojo Rabbit, and the aforementioned Thor movies, not to mention acting in around a dozen movies and producing a quarter of well-received shows like Reservation Dogs and the comedy series Our Flag Means Death. The quest to stay in the spotlight is real, Taika, and sometimes it comes with an Oscar and box office glory. Actually, come to think of it, can fans name every director in the MCU?

Waititi got his start in the five-man group called So You’re a Man while he was attending the Victoria University of Wellington. He and fellow group member Jemaine Clement (best known for being in the Flight of the Conchords musical comedy duo with Bret McKenzie) formed a duo known as the Humourbeasts, and they won the Billy T Award, which is New Zealand’s highest comedy accolade.

Taika Waititi’s next goal is, well, Next Goal Wins. With this comedy, he’s hoping to build on how audiences perceive politically incorrect humor. After all, this is the guy who played Hitler for laughs. “Comedy is a great way of pulling people in and going, ‘Hey, we’re all friends. Get comfortable. You’re racist.’ People check themselves and they go, ‘Am I allowed to laugh at this?’ They have to google if they’re allowed to. And sometimes you shouldn’t laugh at some stuff. You’ve got to navigate it.”

What do you think Taika Waititi’s legacy will be? What is the one work that will stand out much longer than 20 years from now? Let us know below!

Source: The Hollywood Reporter

About the Author

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Mathew is an East Coast-based writer and film aficionado who has been working with JoBlo.com periodically since 2006. When he’s not writing, you can find him on Letterboxd or at a local brewery. If he had the time, he would host the most exhaustive The Wonder Years rewatch podcast in the universe.