When his name was announced as the director for the third and possibly last entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe franchise the Thor trilogy, very few people knew of him. Other than hardcore Marvel fans who had compiled extensive research on the director of one of their favorite characters and film nerds known for his older works like Boy and Hunt for the Wilderpeople. The name Taika Waititi was an unknown entity in the conversation for great directors among the mainstream audience. By the time the audience came out of the theatre at the end of Thor: Ragnarok, everyone knew his name.
If the older generation were blessed with iconic directors like James Cameron, George Lucas and Steven Spielberg, modern film and television fans can look up to Taika Waititi to hoist the flag of exceptional modern film making. Here is a look at the New Zealand director’s background and career as film director, actor, and comedian.
Who is Taika Waititi – New Zealand Film Director? Here is All You Need to Know
In the Raukokore area of the East Coast region of North Island in New Zealand, Taika Waititi was born to a Jewish mother and a father who is Maori of Te Whanau-a-Apanui. The director has built a brand and legacy for himself with the Taika Waititi name, but he sometimes goes by Taika Cohen, using the surname of his mother. He was born on the 16th of August 1975 and was raised in Wellington, New Zealand.
There is nothing conventional about Taika Waititi, but even for an eccentric man like him, going through formal education to hone his craft was a path he considered important enough to take. He attended Victoria University of Wellington after graduating from Onslow College for his secondary school education. While he was in university, his passion for the arts and comedy began to manifest. Taika was a part of So You’re a Man, a comedy ensemble which had success touring through Australia and New Zealand. He was also a part of The Humourbeasts, a comedy duo that won the Billy T Award, New Zealand’s highest comedy accolade.
Excellence has always pretty much followed Taika Waititi. Before he achieved global recognition for reigniting interest in the Thor franchise, the director was already racking up awards in New Zealand as an actor, winning local awards for low budget films like Scarfies, Snakeskin, and The Strip. Although his original entry into filmmaking was as an actor, he will be ultimately known as a maverick director and screenwriter. His other acting credits include Green Lantern, Boy, and What We Do in the Shadows. He also starred in Thor: Ragnarok as Korg.
As a filmmaker, Taika started his life as a director and all-round filmmaker with short films in New Zealand. He was nominated for an Academy Award for his short film in 2005 for Two Cars, One Night. By the time he released What We Do in the Shadows, a mockumentary that has been critically acclaimed and is currently been adapted into a TV series, he had made two feature-length films, Eagle vs Shark and Boy. His direction of Boy was particularly successful, setting several records in the New Zealand cinema and winning the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival. He broke the records set by his own film, Boy by another film of his own, Hunt for the Wilderpeople.
Having released three successful films working with low budgets, Marvel Studios –which has developed a reputation for bringing in unknown but talented directors to direct its big-budget films – signed Taika Waititi to direct and write Thor: Ragnarok. The success of the film and the exposure this work brought to the New Zealand film industry earned him the award for New Zealander of the Year in 2017.
His other projects include Jojo Rabbit, and We’re Wolves which are scheduled for release in 2019. He is also expected to be direct some episodes of The Mandalorian and What We Do in the Shadows series.
Commercially successful films like Thor: Ragnarök and Hunt for the Wilderpeople has made Taika Waititi a rich man. The filmmaker is currently worth $3 million. With more projects with Marvel lined up and signed contracts to work on a Star Wars project, Taika’s wealth is expected to go up in the coming years.
Wife & Children
Taika Waititi has been in a couple of notable relationships. Early on in his filmmaking career, he was in a relationship with Loren Horsley, an actress. He is however now married to Chelsea Winstanley, an award-winning film producer, and director. The couple got married in 2012 and have two children – Te Hinekahu, who was born in 2012 and Matewa Kiritapu, who was born in 2015.
Height & Weight
Taika Waititi spots a distinctive look that makes him stand out in a crowd. The New Zealander filmmaker has an impressive height of 6 feet and 2 inches. His weight is currently unknown but it is assumed the filmmaker regularly works on his physique thanks to his lean athletic body.