Kiwi director Taika Waititi has begun working on his new project, World War II comedy drama JoJo Rabbit.
The film, written by Waititi, is a satire about a 10-year-old boy living in fascist Germany who is trying to fit in with the help of an imaginary friend. After being severely hurt by a grenade at a Hitler youth camp, the boy discovers that his mother is hiding a fifteen year old Jewish girl in their house.
The script has been finished and ready to shoot since 2012 but has taken time to get off the ground due to financing. Waititi now has the backing of a major film studio thanks to Fox Searchlight, a division of 20th Century Fox, who gave the script the go ahead last year. Filming is set to begin in Europe in May.
Matthew Greenfield, head of production for Fox Searchlight, told Vanity Fair "We believe in Taika as a filmmaker, and we felt like this was a movie where we can make it on our scale and the right way...He doesn't have to sand off the edges, doesn't have to change the humour," he said.
Casting has begun in England, with producers looking for a "quirky, working class" boy aged 10-12, "preferably small for his age, with a distinctive look" to play the lead role. The casting notice stresses that "no previous acting experience is necessary."
Waititi is renowned for casting youngsters with limited to no acting experience. He discovered James Rolleston at the age of 11 and cast him in the lead role in his celebrated film Boy.
Julian Dennison was another success story for the director. He paired the relatively unknown then 13-year-old opposite veteran actor Sam Neill in Hunt for the Wilderpeople. Dennison's standout performance led to him landing a Hollywood part in Deadpool 2 alongside Ryan Reynolds.
Waititi has been riding a wave of success since his last film, Thor: Ragnarok, smashed box-office records worldwide. His name has even been linked with the next Star Wars movie, with Disney's Lucasfilm boss Kathleen Kennedy saying she'd "love for him to direct a Star Wars movie."
Given Disney's recent purchase of 20th Century Fox in a USD $52.4 billion deal, Waititi could be one step closer to the biggest film of his career to date.
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