Taika Waititi takes on one of history's most notorious dictators in his latest project, Jojo Rabbit - a comedy that has Disney executives on edge over its controversial content.
The Wellington-born creative genius has an impressive resume as a director, producer, actor, comedian and screenwriter - and in his upcoming anti-war and anti-hate satire, the showoff fills all of those shoes simultaneously. In true Taika fashion, Waititi also plays a part - this time, as a certain Adolf Hitler.
"It was never planned for me to play that character, but it was always the plan to have that character in the film," Waititi said.
- Disney worried Taika Waititi's Jojo Rabbit' too edgy' - report
- Star-studded trailer for Taika Waititi's Jojo Rabbit drops
- Taika Waititi frolicks through forest as Hitler in new JoJo Rabbit trailer
Waititi's in hot demand in Hollywood these days, so Newshub's Entertainment Editor Kate Rodger cornered him on the red carpet at the film's Toronto International Film Festival world premiere.
"There was never any way I was not going to put myself in my film," Waititi told Rodger at the premiere on Sunday (local time).
The black comedy features a star-studded cast, including Scarlett Johansson, Rebel Wilson, Sam Rockwell, Stephen Merchant, Alfie Allen and Kiwi actress Thomasin McKenzie.
Jojo Rabbit is the first film for acting newcomer Roman Griffin Davis, who described the experience of working alongside the acclaimed director as "very special".
"He taught me a lot about energy and life, on set. He has great taste in music, we kind of played guitar together, which was quite fun," Davis said.
"I was very lucky to have him as my first director."
English actor, comedian and writer Stephen Merchant, best known as one half of the duo behind The Office and Extras, alludes to a blossoming 'bromance' between himself and Waititi.
"Even though I had never met him, I knew we would hit it off the moment we met. And we did, we immediately felt really relaxed together... I felt like he was my cousin from down under," he told Rodger.
"I just thought, Taika wants me to play a Nazi, it's the call I've been waiting for."
Merchant has nothing but praise for the upcoming project.
"What was so extraordinary was on the surface it seems like, 'what, he's making a film satirising Hitler?' Yet when you read it and see the finished work, it's filled with such humanity and humour.
"I think it will make people laugh, bring them to tears, I think it's a really powerful and sadly, still relevant movie."
US actor Sam Rockwell, known for his roles in The Green Mile, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind and Seven Psychopaths, describes Waititi as "a very creative guy".
"He's a very, very special artist," he said.
Disney executives are allegedly apprehensive to release the film after initial qualms that it could be too edgy for their typical audience demographic.
Jojo Rabbit will be in cinemas nationwide from October 24.