Jojo Rabbit May Be Eerily Pertinent, But It’s Actually Been In The Works For Years

Jojo Rabbit May Be Eerily Pertinent, But It’s Actually Been In The Works For Years
Taika Waititi stars as Imaginary Hitler in Jojo Rabbit. (Image: Fox Searchlight)
Facebook may have decided that you shouldn’t see the news, but we think you deserve to be in the know with Kotaku Australia’s reporting. To sign up for our daily newsletter covering the latest news, features and reviews, head HERE. For a running feed of all our stories, follow us on Twitter HERE. Or you can bookmark the Kotaku Australia homepage to visit whenever you need a news fix.

Taika Waititi’s anti-hate satire might feel like it was created as a response to the wave of Trump-era fascism, but Waititi has been trying to make Jojo Rabbit happen for almost a decade.

In a new interview, Waititi discussed the long road for the film and why, just because it wasn’t created for the here and now, doesn’t mean that’s not why it exists.

“It wasn’t something where it felt like, ‘We better make our film now because Nazis are popular again,’” Waititi told the Hollywood Reporter, as part of a long-ranging interview about the movie—about a young member of the Hitler Youth and his imaginary friend, a childlike, idiotic recreation of Adolf Hitler who discovers that his family is secretly safeguarding a young Jewish girl from Nazi persecution.

Waititi shared that he’s been working on Jojo Rabbit since 2011, basing his screenplay on Christine Leunens’ novel Caging Skies—which has a similar narrative, although the idea to have Hitler as the imaginary foil to young Jojo, played by Roman Griffin Davis in the film, was his own.

He started pitching the project to producers in 2012, but found that, perhaps unsurprisingly, he was having a hard time selling a parody about a young Nazi who’s friends with an imaginary Hitler. It didn’t help that Waititi wanted an A-list actor to play Hitler, as part of a “package deal” for potential studios, but couldn’t find anyone willing to take it on, for equally unsurprising reasons according to Waititi:

Most people really loved the script. I think it was a little difficult for people to figure out if it was a good career move, and I can fucking totally understand. Who really wants to see themselves as Adolf Hitler on a poster?

The film ended up on the Hollywood Black List, and it wasn’t until around 2018 that Fox Searchlight came onboard. According to THR, it was on one condition: They wanted Waititi to play Hitler, as they felt he would “embody the part with the nuances as he’d written them.”

Waititi said he originally wasn’t super comfortable with the idea—in part due to his own heritage of being of Russian-Jewish descent and as Waititi told THR flatly, “I hate Nazis” — but ultimately agreed.

And now, the movie is coming out at a time when it feels more, well, timely than ever—so much so, a Disney executive was reportedly nervous about releasing it, so as not to hurt the brand’s image. Waititi said the creation and release of Jojo Rabbit wasn’t an intentional commentary on where things are in 2019, as the movie’s been in the works for a long time. But he does recognise that it may not entirely be a coincidence that the movie is coming out now.

It wasn’t something where it felt like, “We better make our film now because Nazis are popular again. Yay!” I’m not one of these people who’s like, “Well, you know that Mercury is in retrograde, so that’s why this happened today.” I do believe that things happen when they need to happen, and you can’t force it—or maybe it’s just that things happen when you notice them.

Jojo Rabbit comes out on Boxing Day in Australia.


  • Taika Waititi’s anti-hate satire might feel like it was created as a response to the wave of Trump-era fascism,


    You people need to learn what actual fascism is. Because the more you throw out that line for the slightest thing that you disagree with. The less it means.

    Look at actual Fascist Dictatorships like Mussolini and Adolf Hitler during WW2. That’s Fascism. While Donald trump is a moron and makes repeated dumb and questionable decisions. He and his government is not in any way fascistic.

    On another note stop thinking that anything slightly political has any reference to Donald Trump.

    This movie looks good. Don’t ruin the press rounds for this by injecting it with modern politics.

    • This comment isn’t for you, because you sound like a gronk, but for anyone else who comes along:

      There’s been a lot of research into what, exactly, fascism was, especially because a lot of it seemed to be directly contradictory, or, frankly, incoherent. At the core of it, fascism, in France, Spain, Germany, and whereever else it’s reared its ugly head, has been about three things:
      1) We used to be great
      2) Now We are not great, and it’s Their fault for coming here and ruining it
      3) If We expel them, We will become great again (and will do it with increasing force until it works)

      There’s nuances there about how ‘We’ is defined, but that’s always been the core of it. It’s an incoherent philosophy, too wrapped in its its enforcement of arbitrary hierarchies to solve the very real problems it’s exploiting, and it eventually collapses under its own contradictions.

      “Make America Great Again” is a pretty bald restatement of that fascist assertion number 3. It’s so transparent that Hot Fuzz, in its depiction of a crypto-fascist takeover of an English village, uses the exact same slogan. Trump’s government is fascist, and they are also dipshits, because fascism is what dipshits think politics looks like.

      movie looks good though

      • This comment isn’t for you

        Yet you replied to my comment using the reply feature.

        because you sound like a gronk

        Nice ad hominem bro. Do you go round insulting anyone who disagrees with you?

        • Can you not do the stupid internet tactic of only responding to small snippets of his comment that you can aptly reply to?

          I know that these two small fractions of the larger comment can be responded to easier and you think you’ve scored a win here but it’s a dickhead move at best.

          • I would have responded to his full comment
            But when you open with insults I don’t bother. It’s shows you aren’t open to debating respectfully. Seems you follow his method.

          • You people need to learn what actual fascism is
            when you open with insults I don’t bother

            Making the insult implicit instead of explicit doesn’t make your argument better.

            Provided was a well laid out, simplified and condensed definition of fascism – look at what Trump and co are doing, what they want to do and how they are doing it – sure he’s not Hitler, but the ideas and how they’re enacted are the same. different scales, different stakes and different targets, sure – but if it walks like a fascist and it talks like a fascist maybe we should call it a fascist before it starts killing people en masse.

      • There’s been a lot of research into how to screw around with the definition of fascism so that people can use it however they want – because mountains of this “sociopolitical research” has dogshit methodology. Ironically a lot of that ideology you just mentioned sits at the core of the USSR’s communist philosophy but with a different ‘we’ and ‘them’ but I don’t see people falling over themselves to stick that label.

        We are far from fascist Italy or Germany (Fascist France was basically Germany). The mere fact we can have political discussion, free elections, protesting rights, or any number of freedoms that didn’t exist under those periods demonstrates how far we are from fascism.

        Saying that something is fascist merely because of xenophobic statements is like saying a dog is a cat because they have four legs and walk.

        • GOP were caught cheating in an election and that is currently being gone through again.
          Anti-fascist protesters are being labeled terrorists as actual white supremacists are referred to as nice people.
          I think you’ll find that America isn’t really that free at all at the moment.

      • There is a massive difference between deporting those staying in the country illegally, and the genocide of an entire race.

        • Genocide isn’t a characteristic of facism. It has occured under Facism due to its policies that prioritise social and cultural control (which often form around race), but to say one isn’t facist because they haven’t committed genocide is fallacial.

          • Also, I would’ve hoped that one of the key lessons of WWII was to try to spot and eliminate fascism before the genocide is in full swing.

      • I’d agree that the US regime isn’t fascist but I’d say Trump certainly is, he just hasn’t got his way.

        Just look at North Korea;
        The mere fact we can have political discussion, free elections, protesting rights, or any number of freedoms that didn’t exist under those periods demonstrates how far we are from fascism. They don’t have any of those things, instead they get brainwashing news reports and labour camps (or just murder) for dissenting views.

        In the days of fascist Italy and Germany like you mentioned, this wouldn’t be seen as a good thing by other world leaders but today we have Trump who would rather talk about his deep love with Kim Jong Un and Kim’s great plans for the future of his dictatorship :/

        It’s not really calling a dog a cat so much as calling an ‘innocent person’ a murderer for high-fiving someone who is currently committing murder…

    • “characterized by dictatorial power, forcible suppression of opposition, and strong regimentation of society and of the economy”

      You know what, the US might technically not be, but Republicans are damn well trying their best on all of the mentioned above, with varyting levels of success.

      • Just like soldant said above, you can use whatever justification or methodology you want in which ever way you choose to call American Republicans fascist leaning, you could also do the same for Democrats.

      • honestly this describes the opposition more. violent suppresion of the conservtives through antifa who have literally beat a jewish man after someone shouted he was a nazi as he came out of a bathroom.

        They keep trying to force laws and code of conduct about things like dead naming and ‘hate’ speech which is often regular speech they disagree with.

        they want to make the country communist in many cases.

        seems like it’s really easy to abitrarily apply that list of options to just about any group people can just claim to represent.

    • Yeah if your first lines in an article start talking about Trump on subject that has no direct connection to him, then it’s probably not going to lead anywhere useful.

      Then again, I saw a picture of a hitler lookalike and the title of pertinent so I really deserved this one.

      • To be fair Trump-era fascism can also be interpreted as talking about the left if you want to see it that way, as in “people’s response to Trump makes them look pretty fascist”

        • Are you thinking of authoritarianism? There are many axes of political alignment that can combine in ways more complicated than the false left/right dichotomy would imply (and why I loathe distilling politics down to such overly simplistic terms), and one of those is civil (libertarianism/authoritarianism). The Soviet Union in WW2 was authoritarian, but it wasn’t fascist – in fact, the fascists hated mainstream socialism and communism.

          Fascism leans heavily on authoritarianism, but it’s much more strongly defined by hyper-nationalism (globalism/nationalism axis), as well as the elevation and aggrandisement of a central leadership figure wrapped in a cult of personality. Those two attributes tend to be antithetical to what you’re probably thinking of when you say ‘the left’, so you certainly couldn’t describe them as such with any degree of authenticity.

          It is certainly fair to say there is an authoritarian subset of ‘the left’, as is true of essentially all political alignments except libertarianism.

  • “just because it wasn’t created for the here and now, doesn’t mean that’s not why it exists”

    Ahhh, a triple-negative! Run for your lives!

    • Yeah, what the fuck is that sentence supposed to mean?

      Tip to article writer – if your sentence includes three ‘nots’, time to brush up on some basic sentence structure.

      “Just because it was not created for the here and now, does not mean that is not why it exists.”

  • Trump’s days are numbered and his power is greatly limited by the political system he is thankfully constrained by. Sure he will probably get 4 more years. Big deal. We should be worrying about the big 3 who have indefinite and completley unopposed power. They are busily preparing for global conflict.

Show more comments

Log in to comment on this story!