Taika Waititi didn’t want big star to play Hitler in Jojo Rabbit

Jojo Rabbit also features Scarlett Johansson, Thomasin McKenzie, and Rebel Wilson.

Taika Waititi ended up playing Adolf Hitler in Jojo Rabbit because he realised casting a big star in the part would distract from the main story.

The satire tells the story of a 10-year-old boy named Jojo, a member of the Hitler Youth Camp who sees the German dictator, as played by Waititi, as his imaginary friend. It follows him as he discovers his mother has hidden a young Jewish girl in their house.

The New Zealand-born director, who also wrote and produced the movie, admitted he dreamed up a wish list of big stars to play the part but ultimately agreed to do it himself after realising an A-lister could overshadow the central story.

“Fox Searchlight blackmailed me into doing it,” Waititi joked to Variety. “You start (out) thinking of bigger stars to be part of a film like this or to play this imaginary Hitler. But at the end of the day, it came down to the simple fact that if we had done that, that would have overshadowed the heart of the story — which is this beautiful story, this relationship story between these two kids… And if there was a big celebrity then it would have become the ‘so-and-so Hitler film,’ which is not at all what this is.”

The Thor: Ragnarok filmmaker has been receiving critical acclaim for Jojo Rabbit since its debut at the Toronto International Film Festival in September, where it won the People’s Choice Award.

Waititi added that the buzz the film has received has made him even prouder of the project.

“It sounds a little cliche, but I like to think that I don’t write a film or go into making a film just with the express intent of getting awards, cause this seems really messed up and that’s not a good way to create art,” the 44-year-old stated. “(But after the awards buzz) started happening, I became even more proud of the film.”

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