Taika Waititi is a New Zealand actor, producer, comedian, and director. His feature film Wilderpeople is New Zealand’s highest-grossing film since its release in 2016. He is best known for directing Marvel blockbuster Thor: Ragnarok in 2017.
The 44-year-old multi-talented director and actor is estimated to net worth $3 million. His earnings are from acting, directing, screenwriting, and producing roles. For his contribution to the New Zealand film industry, he was appointed Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit in the 2020 Queen’s Birthday Honours.
Taika Waititi was born as Taika David Cohen on 16th August 1975 in Raukokore of New Zealand’s North Island. His father was a farmer and artist of Maori descent while his mother Robin was a school who was of Russian Jewish descent. His parents separated when he was five. Being raised by a single mother, he had his secondary school education at Onslow College. He graduated from Victoria University of Wellington with a Bachelor of Arts in 1997.
Waititi, in a Podcast by Elijah Wood revealed that his father was a gang member. His father was in a biker gang as one of the founding members of the Satan’s Slaves. He insisted that his father was very proud of his work, although they were not close.
Waititi started his career as an entertainer at Victoria University as a member of a five-man comedy troupe, So You’re a Man. In the mid-90s, they successfully toured New Zealand and Australia. Later, he moved to the group The Humourbeasts, which received New Zealand’s comedy award, The Billy T Award, in 1999. By 2005, his short film, Two Cars, One Night, was nominated for Academy Award. This prompted him to push further. In 2007, he featured in his first film in a romantic comedy Eagle vs. Shark.
His second feature was in Boy in 2010. The film received positive reviews at the New Zealand box office, surpassing his previous records and other records. After the success of Boy Waititi directed the TV series Super City in 2011, then appeared as Thomas Kalmaku in Green Lantern, a superhero film that same year.
Waititi breakthrough into mainstream started in 2013. He co-wrote and directed vampire comedy What We Do in the Shadows with his friend Jemaine Clement. Waititi loves appearing in most films he directs. He featured as Alamein Boy (2010) as Viago, and What We Do in the Shadows (2014). He played the role of a Minister in Hunt for the Wilderpeople (2016) in a film based on Wild Pork and Watercress by Barry Camp. He also directed and featured as Korg in Thor: Ragnarok (2017), Korg in Avengers: Endgame (2019), and Adolf Hitler in Jojo Rabbit.
In 2016, Waititi wrote Moana’s preliminary screenplay, a Disney film that raises attention to family and gender. With his work success, his home country gave him an award as the New Zealander of the Year in 2017. It was that year that he directed Thor: Ragnarok in The Marvel franchise. His direction gave Thor: Ragnarok a special effect with some improvised jokes that a trademark of Waititi comedy.
Waititi wrote and directed Jojo Rabbit based on Christine Leunens’s book Caging Skies. Waititi’s work in Jojo Rabbit crested his name in the record books. He was nominated for two Academy Awards for Best Picture and Best Adapted screenplay, which he won the latter. He became the first person of Maori descent to win an Academy Award and for the Best Adapted Screenplay category.
Success speaks volumes, so is Waititi’s achievement in directing. With the success of Thor: Ragnarok in Hollywood, Waititi was announced as one of the directors of the Star Wars series, The Mandalorian, in 2018. His voiceover in the series also earned him a Primetime Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Character Voice-Over Performance.
Currently, Waititi has been announced to direct and co-write (with Krysty Wilson-Cairens) another upcoming Star Wars film. He is also working on a film adaptation of Tina Makereti’s 2018 novel Imaginary Lives of James Poneke. Moving with the trend, Netflix announced they had appointed Taika to direct two animated features for their studio. The film is based on Roald Dahl’s classic novel Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, whereby one of them will focus on the novel’s Oompa Loompa characters.
Family life and Marriage
Taika Waititi is married to Chelsea Winstanley. She is also of Maori descent. The super couple met in 2010, some years after Winstanley interviewed her husband for a documentary on some Maori artists. Waititi has helped her wife overcome her childhood sexual abuse. Winstanley stated that Waititi understood how her childhood experiences influenced her, which made her trust and again led to marriage.
He accepted Winstanley’s daughter Maia as his child. They were married for six years and had two daughters together; 7-year-old Te Hinekahu and 4-year-old Matewa kiritapu. Reports claim they have been separated for about two years before Waititi walked the 2020 Oscars red carpet alone. Comments from Winstanley hinted at separation when she called her mom, who walked the red carpet with her ‘way better date than a seat filler.’ Winstanley is a filmmaker and produced Jojo Rabbit.
Taika Waititi’s house
Waititi bought Marti Noxon’s house in Studio City, Los Angeles, California, for $2.39 million. The house has four beds and three baths, and it is about 2,323 square feet. The house is an estate at the tail end of a ridge line cul-de-sac in celeb-soaked hills. It was initially built in 1963 and was renovated by Noxon. Marti Noxon (a producer, film writer, and director) bought the Studio City for $1.6 million in 2017.
Taika Waititi’s commercials
Taika Waititi has worked on different commercials, directing different advertising videos. Although he has directed commercial adverts, he is not a fan of commercials. In an interview with The Verge, he stated, ‘I’ve made commercials, so I’ve worked with the worst people in the world. Nothing could be more restrictive than working with people in advertising. He directed Air New Zealand’s The Most Epic Safety Video Ever Made in 2014. The video amassed over 19 million views on YouTube, which featured Peter Jackson and Elijah Wood.