Thor Ragnarok Set Photo

Can you talk about working with the actors a little bit on a project like this, especially those new to the superhero genre, and as an actor yourself?

TW: The thing that has surprised me about all the actors is, including Anthony Hopkins, is just how far they can push it if they’re given permission to not do what everyone knows them for. That goes especially for Hopkins. I think you can tell when actors are like, “Okay, they want me to do Tony Hopkins saying words.” I think with everyone, including Cate Blanchett, we gave them permission to be funny, to destroy what’s come before and recreate it.

Do you think it takes someone like you, with acting experience, to get that trust out of an actor like Anthony Hopkins or an actress like Cate Blanchett?

TW: Maybe. I think a lot of people are very scared to talk to actors whereas I don’t care. I think something that every actor wants, whether they’ve done four movies or forty movies, is they want to find the work interesting. You want to come to work and think this is going to be a challenge. I think for all of these actors, it has been interesting.

When I first met Cate, one of the first things she said to me was, “You know, I just want to punch people. I just want to do something where I get to have fun, and my kids are gonna enjoy watching me in action.

How is this challenging or pushing you as a filmmaker in terms of going to the bigger canvas with way more effects, where everything is bigger than you’ve done previously?

TW: I don’t think it’s changing me. It may have spoiled me. When I go back to my smaller films, which I will do, I might be like, “Where’s those nice, ice coffee things they are handing out before? Why are we eating carrot sticks again?” At first I was a little apprehensive, but I’ve done a lot of commercials and I’ve been on big sets before, so I was okay with how that runs.

It’s more that I didn’t realize until after a few months that what we’re doing is essentially the exact same thing as all my other films. At the end of the day, when you call action, the lens is pointed at two or three people who are trying to remember lines and say them to each other in a convincing way. From Eagle vs Shark all the way through this, it’s the exact same experience. And all the rest of this is all shut out when you’re looking at the rectangle screen. The experience is completely the same other than we have to do a lot more effects passes and balls and charts and all that stuff. I don’t get annoyed by how long that stuff takes because I’ve seen all these other films and I know how good it can look and it takes time to get that stuff right.

Are you guys building a new Sanctum Santorum set for the Doctor Strange or are you going out to London to shoot that? Did you already complete that scene?

TW: What am I allowed to say? You’ve seen the concept art and stuff. All right, cool. Yeah, we did that.

You rebuilt the set here in Australia?

TW: Someone tell me what I’m allowed to say!

Thor Ragnarok Set Photo

We’ve heard that you like to use music on set when it’s called for to create a certain vibe while shooting, and you also gave Tessa Thompson some music to listen to as a way to inspired her performance. What kind of music have you been using and how does that influence the actors?

[During this part of the interview, one of the crew members comes over to get approval on a shot they’re framing for the next scene, so Taika Waititi is a little distracted]

TW: I play music all the time because silence freaks me out. I was trying to have a very relaxed set. It’s just more of a family feel. We’ve got kids running around all the time. Chris Hemsworth’s kids are here. Music is just a good way to keep the crew going. It’s motivational and makes you relaxed.

Were you blasting Goblin? I thought I heard that.

TW: Yeah. Suspiria.

Can we talk about the villains? Because not only do you have the first female Marvel villain, but you also have Loki who is far and away the MCU’s biggest star when it comes to villains. So we’re curious as to what your take on villains is in this film.

TW: Yeah, Cate is the first female villain, and for me, the most interesting villain. She is multidimensional. She’s layered. She’s troubled. She’s really funny. It’s not just, “Ohhh, If I can finally get the thing, uh, then this will happen!” There’s a little bit of that, but there are so many other things going on for her. I think it’s going to be really satisfying to people.

And she’s fucking amazing. Her character, she’s very tough. She is Hela. Amazing powers. She wears the cowl, and she has the antlers, and she looks amazing in the concept art and stuff. In the films, Thor has never fought anyone tougher than this lady.

You had a supporting role in Green Lantern. Were there any lessons you learned from that experience that helped you with this project?

TW: Not necessarily that film. I was just determined to try and do a good job [as an actor]. I spent a lot of time just sitting around on set, as you do. But I would watch a lot about how [director Martin Campbell] runs a set. He’s runs a set very well, very efficient, but very different to the way I do things. I think I probably learned more watching a lot of other superhero movies, and a lot of big budget studio films to where I said, “I think I know what’s going wrong with some of these films.” And usually it comes down to story.

I don’t want to speak to that too much, but story is still king in my mind. We work a lot on the script. We’ve stopped for an hour to just keep working on a scene to make sure we got it right, made sure it makes sense. So you can bust on through and make your day by getting stuff in the can, but it’s basically worthless when you come to edit. We wanted to take the time to make sure we get stuff right. All these actors are great at that. Chris Hemsworth is especially very smart and very savvy when it comes to story. I think he’s learned on a lot of films he’s done, you have to discuss it. You’ve got to make sure you get it right the first time. So we spent a lot of time doing that.

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