You directed the pilot of What We Do in the Shadows. Were you just not involved in the writing of that first episode? How involved were you in the brainstorming? Did you leave it entirely to Jemaine?
Waititi: I left it to Jemaine and I'd just read drafts and if I had any notes, I'd give suggestions, like character things or location things. When I got to doing the pilot, then I came in. I finished Thor, Thor had come out, then I think I just had a couple of months and then got onto the pilot. The job of making that film was so intense and so involved. I wouldn't have been able to do it. I wasn't able to do anything. The idea was I would secretly write other films while I was doing it, but I just couldn't.
It sounds like making a Marvel movie is an all-consuming enterprise. You mentioned the trepidation of leaving New Zealand. There's a very specific rhythm to the humor of the country. Were you trying to recreate the exact rhythms of the movie in the TV show, and was that hard?
Waititi: We were trying to create those exact rhythms. We spent quite a while figuring out the style of the film. Going from things like staying with the characters for a little exposition and then we go back to the scene. And how does the story work, and with these characters you've always got to explain everything, especially on a TV show, you've got to get all the backstory for everything up front. There's a lot of talking. We were pretty satisfied with what we did on the film so we decided we'll pretty much replicate that style and that rhythm, just with different people and because we really liked those actors, Matt, Kayvon, Natasha, Harvey, and Mark. They were great improvisers and they understood what we were doing because they all watched the film. They all got it, especially the British comics. They just understand the need for subtlety and to try and keep it real. Even with the film, bringing it to the States, sometimes people weren't quite ready for -- there's a different style of humor. The jokes are the same, but maybe it's a different type of delivery. The film has got very sad undercurrents throughout. In the film, the deepest themes are actually pretty depressing. That's where we find the comedy comes from. The British get that. I think if we had done the whole film in America -- if we were Americans -- I think the sensibility and the tone and the rhythm would be completely different.
I read that you and Jemaine had said that the bit in the movie with the vampire character Deacon and his Nazi past did not go over well with Americans audiences. You have a movie coming out in which you play Hitler.
Waititi: It was so weird back then. The joke was that he had been alive so long and see so many wars that WWII was just, I don't know, a war to him. The joke was, "I don't know if you guys know this, but the Nazis lost that war." In America, people were like, "We know that because we were really involved in that war and we helped end that. We helped beat the Nazis, so you don't have to tell us that." It was just so weird. It felt like Americans were like we were the only people in WWII fighting Nazis. Some people were like, "You should just take it out because Americans don't like Nazis. We don't like characters who used to be Nazis." We eventually just refused. We have to help people here to evolve their senses of humor.