After breaking out in a major way in Hollywood by directing the critically acclaimed MCU action-comedy Thor: Ragnarok, director Taika Waititi’s next film is going to an unexpected place: Nazi Germany. Waititi wrote the script for Jojo Rabbit, a Fox Searchlight film about “a young boy who longs to be part of the Hitler Youth and whose imaginary friend is Adolf Hitler.” Playing Hitler? None other than Waititi himself. Yeah, this is going to be a weird one.
But that’s not all—Waititi (also known for What We Do in the Shadows and Hunt For the Wilderpeople) is also bringing on some Hollywood A-listers for the project. Sam Rockwell, fresh off a supporting actor Oscar for his role in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, will join Scarlett Johansson in two of the film’s meatiest roles. According to The Hollywood Reporter:
The story centers on Jojo, a young boy who longs to be part of the Hitler Youth and whose imaginary friend is Adolph Hitler. He discovers a Jewish girl living in his attic and, after initially trying to find ways to get rid of her, begins to see her as human.
Johansson would be playing Jojo’s mother, a woman who is a secret member of an anti-Nazi resistance of some kind. Rockwell, meanwhile, would be playing “a Nazi captain who runs a Hitler Youth camp.” That sounds pretty much like the film’s villain to us, and it continues a somewhat typecast streak of Rockwell playing irascible, sometimes bumbling villains/racists. According to THR, production is likely to get underway sometime in late spring.
It seems safe to say that everything related to Jojo Rabbit and its subject material will have to be handled with a deft touch. Waititi’s films have tended toward the quirky, awkward and absurdist, but there are sure to be some viewers who object toward Nazi Germany (and events such as the Holocaust) being portrayed with that kind of levity. We trust that Waititi is aware of this, and has figured out how he wants to approach the subjects.
As for the trifecta of Waititi, Rockwell and Johansson, they’ve never worked together directly, but they do share the odd brotherhood of all being connected to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Waititi obviously directed Ragnarok, in addition to appearing as Korg, and Johansson is a foundational player as Black Widow. Rockwell, meanwhile, is a bit harder to remember, but he played the white collar industrialist villain Justin Hammer in one of the series least fondly remembered entries, Iron Man 2. Here’s hoping that Jojo Rabbit turns out a bit better than that one.