Taika Waititi: ‘I’ll wake up and be like, Am I having a midlife crisis?’

Taika Waititi gave a lengthy interview to the New York Times a few weeks ago. I saved it for a moment when I could really enjoy it. While I think Taika gives off major f–kboi/middle-life crisis vibes, I also have to say that the man is a genius and it’s a pleasure to hear his thoughts on art, inclusivity, the philosophy of work, Marvel and more. The NYT started off by naming all of the projects Taika is currently working on, or will be starting soon: Thor: Love and Thunder (director), Our Flag Means Death (executive producer, star), Reservation Dogs (co-creator, producer), What We Do in the Shadows (producer), a Shadows spinoff (producer, co-creator), acting and voice work in Lightyear and Free Guy, producing, writing and directing Next Goal Wins. Oh, and he’s writing a Star Wars movie and prepping two Roald Dahl projects… and there are like twelve more things. You can read the full NYT piece here. Some highlights:

He says yes to everything: “Sometimes you’re pissed off at life and you’re like, ‘Why did I say yes to everything? I don’t have a social life — I’m just working.’ But then the thing comes out, you see where the hard work goes and it’s really worth it. Sometimes I’ll wake up and be like, Am I having a midlife crisis? Should I even be a filmmaker? Maybe I should have been a carpenter. Maybe I should just be a gardener.”

Growing up in New Zealand: “It was never my dream to do this. I would much rather have been a fighter pilot or a fireman, but then it appeared that you’ve got to be actually quite smart to be a pilot. I don’t know if I’ve ever chased any of my dreams. My dreams have sort of developed through being part of the dream.”

He hates compliments: “New Zealanders hate compliments. I think it’s because of our moms. Our moms are the ones who go, ‘Don’t worry — I still liked it.’ That’s the kind of support you’ll get.”

His reticence to work with Marvel: “You’ve always been scared of working with studios, worried about working in America and what it might do to you. But why not go straight into the deep end and see how that goes?”

The pandemic: “Painting, learning a language, exercising — you think I did any of them? No, I didn’t. What I wanted to do was sleep for a month and then I got to sleep for six months.”

On the gay love story at the heart of Our Flag Means Death: “No one talks about Tom Cruise hooking up with Jennifer Connelly in ‘Top Gun,’” he said. But in “Our Flag Means Death, “it’s a massive talking point that two dudes kiss on the beach. I’m cool with talking about it because I’m really proud of the moment. But my dream is to be like the world of the pirates, where no one bats an eye.”

The through-line: “All my films are about underdogs. Not being able to choose your family and sometimes that’s not your blood family, it’s just who you end up gravitating towards. You’re like, How did I end up with these weirdos? What is it about these guys?”

On his children: “I am cool as well to take six months off and just go hang out with my kids.” I asked him if he was starting to feel like Leonardo DiCaprio in “Inception,” just desperate to walk through the front door and have his children embrace him, and Waititi did not dismiss the comparison. “They’re in New Zealand,” he said. “I mean, they couldn’t be further away.”

[From The NYT]

There was some talk about his answer about his kids. It’s true, he’s barely spending any time with his kids – he’s too busy working and traveling around with Rita Ora. I think he was separated from his kids while he filmed Thor: Love and Thunder too – the kids were in New Zealand and he couldn’t really leave Australia. I don’t know. A woman would be demonized, completely, of course. But we don’t know what’s going on there.

I do think that Taika has really captured some kind of cultural zeitgeist with his humor and humanity, showing that you don’t have to be mean, violent or cruel to be funny or interesting. He’s a weird, brilliant guy, and he’s able to translate his weirdness in such interesting ways.

Photos courtesy of Avalon Red.

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23 Responses to “Taika Waititi: ‘I’ll wake up and be like, Am I having a midlife crisis?’”

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  1. grabbyhands says:

    “Sometimes I’ll wake up and be like, Am I having a midlife crisis?”

    You mean the textbook case you’ve been displaying for a while? Yes, yes you are. And you should feel embarrassed.

  2. Ariel says:

    Mothers don’t ever get to “sleep for six months”.

    HIs movies are fun.

  3. Merricat says:

    Lol, well, he IS wearing the Mid-life Crisis Orange Suit.

  4. girl_ninja says:

    Yes. He is having a mid-life crisis and his marriage and children are the casualties. He is absolutely a talented man but to give up your family so that you can just do what you want to do without really, REALLY thinking of the responsibilities you signed up for is so beyond selfish. Then to shack up with another woman because you’re probably lonely and need companionship? Work on taking care of your family! I’m so annoyed by him and I usually don’t care at all about Taika.

    • SarahCS says:

      Creativity and family often don’t mix. My father is a talented artist (he’s lived off his art almost all his adult life) but having already cost him his relationship with my mother, he then told his girlfriend of the moment that she was on her own when she told him she was pregnant as he had made it clear he was done with kids and was about to sail to Africa for a couple of years to hang out and get more inspiration. She had an abortion (and later married and had kids with a lovely guy who truly loved her). Only he matters. It’s also partly narcissism but being that focussed on himself led to his work being great.

  5. tealily says:

    Okay, I think he absolutely has been having a midlife crisis. I’ve been shaking my head as his marriage broke up and he was partying on a balcony etc., but I still have some sympathy for him. He went from being an indie guy and New Zealand-based filmmaker to jumping into the deep end with a Thor movie and he managed it! I think he’s had some bumps, but it’s starting to look like he’s coming out right side up and I’m still rooting for him.

    As far as being on the other side of the world from his kids, I have no doubt that that is part of what led to his divorce. I get the impression that he thought he’d be able to be back and forth more than he has been. He’s been getting a lot of U.S. work and the pandemic has put a wrench in things. But I appreciate that he’s at least trying to keep a toe in his homeland and avoid going full Hollywood. I think he’s a smart guy with a lot to say. I hope things are leveling out for him and he’s able to keep his head screwed on right. His wife was too good for him anyway.

  6. Shawna says:

    Oh, honey, we’ve known this for a long time.

  7. Lucía says:

    I’m on the same page as you, Kaiser. Is the man going through a midlife crisis? It seems so. Is he still a very talented and sensitive storyteller? In my opinion, he absolutely is. Both things can be true.

  8. Nuzzy says:

    I think the actual Māori phrase for “midlife crisis” is “Rita Ora.”

  9. The Recluse says:

    There’s going to be a spin-off for What We Do In The Shadows???!!!!

    If you listen to Thor Ragnarok’s commentary track, it’s cute that he’s there with his little girl and they talk off and on throughout.
    (I don’t know enough about him to comment on his personal life basically.)

  10. Jessica says:

    He does manage to spend a lot of time with his kids- including two weeks in managed quarantine in a tiny hotel room… which would be 13 days too many for me. His kids were also on the Thor set a lot and it’s a 2 hour flight from Sydney to Wellington.

    On his Insta videos, his girls constantly roll their eyes at him, which in NZ translates to deep affection and trust.

    I totally get the mid-life crisis call but he’s not a dead beat dad.

  11. jferber says:

    Yes, he is. All he needs to do is look at the chick at his side, Rita Ora, to confirm that. Yeah, dude, you are.

  12. Fame Impala says:

    Yeah, what you’re missing is that Australia and New Zealand had extremely strict border control for two years because of the pandemic. Taika and other rich privileged people were able to come and go a bit for work, like he did to make Thor, but his kids were not allowed to every time. I think once they did go with him but had to quarantine for two weeks in a hotel room, as one person said up thread. So no, there’s not something weird going on, it was a separation by way of borders and government restrictions during a pandemic.

    Could he have chosen to stay in NZ and not leave for two years like the rest of us? Yes, but I suppose he wanted to continue working and his kids appear happy, cared for and close to their dad.

    • MarcelMarcel says:

      As Aussie I would like to co-sign this. I know people who live here with family in Aotearoa that they’ve struggled to see. Like sure Taika’s wealth would make it somewhat easier BUT no amount of wealth could completely bypass the restrictions both countries have and… people caught Covid-19 when quarantining in Australian hotels.

      • Fame Impala says:

        Yes, exactly! Plus his kids would have had to quarantine on both sides, going back to mum again. So it’s just horrendous to imagine doing that more than once!
        My parents visited from Australia once during the past three years, it was in that brief “travel bubble” around April 2021. Blissful and I was so grateful, but it was shortlived!

        People in the rest of the world just don’t get how Aussie and Aotearoa operated from 2020-2022!

  13. JJS says:

    I have to say I look forward to watching everything that he’s involved with. I love his humour and even his TED talk. “Thor: Love and Thunder (director), Our Flag Means Death (executive producer, star), Reservation Dogs (co-creator, producer), What We Do in the Shadows (producer)” etc, all his films I’ve enjoyed… I get that affairs/separating from his wife and the Rita Ora thing all seem like mid-life crisis things, but for every other aspect like fashion etc, sometimes I think we use terms like mid-life crisis for men and women to make them feel bad about taking risks and having joy and doing less serious things when they are finally able to. If I was him I would definitely keep saying yes and especially when his name helps to promote great shows that otherwise might not get attention.

    I have to wonder if that’s also why his kids were in Love and Thunder — to be able to visit in Australia during covid on an actor’s exception? That movie definitely seems like a love letter to kids, though a lot of his work has those themes.

  14. Ashley says:

    I don’t care how genius he may be, he’s marrying Rita Ora that tells me he’s not at all that bright or deep. And I can’t forget those creepy drug photos with Tessa Thompson.