Taika Waititi reached mainstream success when he directed 2017's 'Thor: Love and Thunder' for Marvel after years of making independent films in New Zealand
Waititi, 48, appeared on the latest episode of the SmartLess podcast, where he spoke with co-hosts Jason Bateman, Sean Hayes, and Will Arnett about his career. Waititi initially made a name for himself making independent films and television in New Zealand, his home country. He then teamed up with Chris Hemsworth for Ragnarok, the third film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe's Thor franchise.
"You know what, I had no interest in doing one of those filmsma,” Waititi said. “It wasn’t on my plan for my career as an auteur. But I was poor and I’d just had a second child. I thought, ‘You know what, this would be a great opportunity to feed these children.' ”
"They called and said 'do you want to do this?' And Thor - let's face it, was probably [Marvel's] least popular franchise. I never read Thor comics when I was a kid," he added. "I did some research on it and I read one full comic, all 18 pages or however long they are. I was still baffled by this character."
Waititi shares two daughters, Te Kāinga o te Hinekāhu, 11, and Matewa Kiritapu, 7, with his ex wife Chelsea Wistanley. The pair broke up in 2018, and Waititi began dating his now-wife Rita Ora in 2021. In August 2022, a source told PEOPLE that he and Ora, 33, had tied the knot.
Waititi shared that he found his take on Hemsworth's Thor by "looking at him [like] he's this billionaire who lives in space and he looks ridiculous. That was sort of the in."
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Hemsworth, 40, had worked with three different directors between Thor (2011), The Avengers (2012), Thor: The Dark World (2013) and Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015) before teaming up with Waititi. The filmmaker experienced major success with Ragnarok, and both that film and its sequel Thor: Love and Thunder (2022) brought Marvel better box office returns than the series' first two films.
"I think there was no place left to go with that thing... I thought, 'Well, if they called me, this is really the bottom of the barrel,' " Waititi said on SmartLess, when cohost Bateman asked whether Waititi's vision for a different path for his Thor movies initially "scared" Marvel.
Despite Waititi's success with the Thor films, he recently confirmed to Business Insider that he will "not be involved" with any potential fifth Thor movie. Instead, the filmmaker is working on the screenplay for a movie titled The Incal, an unspecified Star Wars project and Klara and the Sun, based on a novel of the same name by Kazuo Ishiguro.
"I would never feel like they are cheating on me," Waititi jokingly told the outlet of his relationship with Marvel Studios. "We're in an open relationship, and it's like if they want to see other people, I'm happy for that. I'd still get back into bed with them one day."
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