“Jojo Rabbit” director Taika Waititi tested his film 14 times before it was released and fine-tuning the edit paid off as the film landed six Oscar nominations on Monday morning for Best Picture, Best Supporting Actress, Costume Design, Film Editing, Adapted Screenplay and Production Design.
“We tested the film 14 times before we released it and that’s the usual pattern. Sometimes I take up to a year to edit my movies because I want to take my time and I want to get it right. I never go into a film thinking, ‘Okay, the end goal is to get these nominations,'” Waititi told TheWrap on Monday. “To get the nominations is an incredible honor and it feels amazing. It’s a once in a lifetime thing for me. My films are never really part of the conversation so, yeah, for this film to get its nominations is massive.”
The film is set in a town in Germany where 10-year-old Jojo Betzler (Roman Griffin Davis) wants nothing more than to be a good little Nazi. But he’s a scared little kid who earned the nickname “Jojo Rabbit” when he refused to kill a rabbit at Nazi training camp. So he creates an imaginary friend: a goofy Adolf Hitler who encourages the boy’s worst impulses. The local Nazis are played by Sam Rockwell, Alfie Allen, Rebel Wilson and Stephen Merchant.
Waititi previously expressed concerns about playing Hitler, but his view of the role has changed.
“Yeah it has because I was never trying to portray a real representation of Hitler,” said Waititi. “I wanted to do something that was a mixture of Jo-Jo’s imagination and maybe a little bit of his father and other people in his life, other role models. For me, it was a little bit easier because I didn’t have to do any research at all.”
“I felt like it was an important story, but I didn’t feel like it was a film that I was going to make to try and get nominations or awards,” he continued. “As we were making it I started to realize that the film was more important in this time because I think we’re living in a time where films like this and stories like this are becoming more important because we need to educate the youth of all of our country and also ourselves and to remind ourselves that we can’t repeat the mistakes of the past.”
When asked why he thought his film resonated with so many Academy voters Waititi said, “I think because it has something to say. I think that this film, I think that sometimes people can have the opinion that, ‘Oh, World War II was 80 years ago and, yeah, we get the message. We all, we’re clear on the movie. But if we don’t keep talking about it then we’re going to forget about it and I think humans in our nature are doomed to repeat mistakes of the past.”