Taika Waititi And Loren Horsley discuss bringing one of the wackiest romances ever seen to the big screen.
Comedian/Actor/Director Taika Waititi describes his directorial debut, Eagle Vs. Shark, as New Zealand's first ever Arthouse romantic comedy. It could also be described as a later-in-life follow-up to Napoleon Dynamite. But that would be the easy way of telling you it's about a quirky fling between two misfits.
Waititi, himself, would rather you call it a remake of The Matrix. You'll understand why when you read the following interview. I recently sat down with both Taika Waititi and actress Loren Horsley, who plays Lilly in the film, for an indepth conversation about Eagle Vs. Shark. They divulged the wonders of working on this fine comedic ensemble with great joy.
Here is that interview:
How are you guys?
Loren Horsley: Pretty good. We're not used to these heat lights, really.
Taika Waititi: I don't want you to ask us questions, and then have us freak out under this heat. I hope we have some fresh answers for you.
Well, you recently described this movie as The Matrix. Does that mean these characters are living in the virtual reality world of Mason's computer hard drive?
Taika Waititi: Yeah, exactly. Because the eagle and the shark live in two completely different worlds. And those worlds could never meet until this movie was made and created. It's a world where the eagle and the shark can co-exist together. And it's in this computer generated world that they thrive.
Do you think, in the future, we might see an eagle and shark death match on Pay-Per-View, or something?
Taika Waititi: I sure hope so. Have you seen the TV show where they get animals to fight each other? They have, like, a polar bear fighting a lion. Its all computer generated.
Loren Horsley: I was going to say, are you for real? That sounds outrageous.
Taika Waititi: It's just a cartoon, but people bet on it. Like, "Ooh, a polar bear would lose because the lion is more stealth. And he has a tail. They just make it up on the spot. It's really funny.
My main question is, at the end of this film, do you feel that Jarrod, the eagle, has any redeeming qualities left?
Taika Waititi: I do. I think he is making steps forward. For me, in a movie, I don't think you need to see somebody make a complete change. If you know that they are on the way to making a change, that's enough.
Loren Horsley: We wanted the transformation to feel like it was internal. We didn't want him to be ripping off his glasses, and suddenly changing, and becoming a well developed, suddenly different human. That kind of change comes slow. So that it feels like we've gotten him to wake up and realize that he is not the greatest, coolest guy in the world.
Taika Waititi: We do have him acknowledge that he is a loser. But I don't want to give away the ending of the film. For me, that was much more important.
Well, sitting here, next to you, I see that you actually have a mole. Did Jemaine also have a mole, or was that make-up?
Loren Horsley: I had the real one, and he had the prosthetic one. The make-up artist was always panicking, because she would see it move. She always had continuity things going on. It would be slightly to the left. Slightly to the right.
Taika Waititi: After the kiss, the mole would be hanging down. Sometimes it would be on her.
Loren Horsley: That's what a great kisser I am. I can move moles.
Where did the idea for this animal party spring from
Taika Waititi: From in here (points to head)
Loren Horsley: It came from his crazy brain.
Did you guys ever throw one of these parties before hand?
Taika Waititi: No. I actually went to a costume party about twelve years ago. And I saw a girl there that had a shaggy mask on, and that kind of stuck in my head. I don't know why. I just thought it would be interesting to go to a party that was a little more interesting than people just hanging out, trying to look cool.
Who created the animation for this, and why did you decide to include it in the film?
Taika Waititi: The animation was made by Another Planet, which is a company run by a couple of friends in Wellington. They had done all of my effects in my short films. So I had a long relationship with them.
Loren Horsley: They lived five minutes around the corner form my house.
Taika Waititi: I just really love animation, and I wanted to put it in the film. I think it upholds a lot of the themes of the story. You can show things without dialogue. Without talking.
Is this animation a metaphor for Jarrod? His apple has a rotten core, and he throws it out the window. If given the choice, would Jarrod throw himself out the window if he had to hang out with himself for more than five minutes?
Taika Waititi: You could be looking at that a little too deeply. Defiantly, there is the metaphor of the rotten core, for sure. I think originally writing the script with the animation, I just needed a way to throw an apple away. But you could defiantly decipher it that way.
As I understand it, you guys were all friends before coming to the set. How was that, getting to work with all your friends? Sounds like a good deal
Taika Waititi: It is a good deal. Yeah. For me, everything was totally great. It was my first feature, and it was a totally relaxed environment. I knew all of these people, and loved them. We all got along really well. My job was easier because I knew how they operate. I knew the things that they do. I could sit back and trust that they wouldn't bring any ego, or emotional baggage to the stage.
Loren Horsley: You also get that certain kind of chemistry. I think it defuses the whole thing.
Okay, I have one more question. I read your blog last night, and you call this film the first New Zealand Arthouse romantic comedy. I'm wondering, are you going to make the first New Zealand Arthouse War Comedy anytime in the near future?
Loren Horsley: You already did that, kinda.
Taika Waititi: Yeah, I did do that. It was a short film called Tama tu. And it is the first New Zealand Arthouse World War II silent film comedy.
Do you have any plans to turn that into a feature?
Taika Waititi: Yeah. But with war films, you have to wait until you get the budget. I guess we could use the computer. With the computer, I can make any film I want. I really do want to do that, but I have a couple of other projects that I'm going to tackle first.
Well great, thank you!
Loren Horsley: Off you go, into the horrible traffic.
Eagle Vs. Shark opens in Los Angeles and New York on June 15th. The film goes wider on June 29th.