Taika Waititi Biography | 411Celeb.com
  • Taika Waititi Biography

    Born: August 16, 1975 in Wellington, , New Zealand

    TAIKA WAITITI (Director) is an original New Zealand treasure, having carved out a diverse and highly successful career in his homeland as an Oscar®-nominated film director, writer, painter, comedian and actor. Among many triumphs, he has directed the two highest-grossing native feature film releases in New Zealand history: “Boy” (2010) and his most recent release, “Hunt for the Wilderpeople,” which earned almost NZ$7.5 million in ticket sales in its first month of domestic release (March 2016).

    A er college at Victoria University in Wellington, Wai began working in motion pictures, garnering a New Zealand Film Awards best actor nomina on for his very fi rst ac ng role, that of the lothario flatmate Alex in “Scarfies.” He next appeared in thirteen episodes of the Kiwi TV series “The Strip” and the road movie “Snakeskin.”

    He next looked at prospects behind the camera, wri ng and directing the comedy short “John & Pogo” in 2002. He followed that maiden effort with another short film, the roman c drama “Two Cars, One Night” (2003), which went on to win the budding filmmaker acclaim and awards recognition, including an Oscar® nomina on for best live ac on short.

    A year later, he followed with another dramatic short, “Heinous Crime” (in which he starred alongside veteran Kiwi actor Cliff Cur s), before earning more awards for his next effort, the drama c short “Tama tu,” which centered around a troop of soldiers from the Maori Ba alion during World War II. That film collected awards at several 2005 film festivals, including Berlin, Stockholm, Palm Springs, Indianapolis and Sundance, where the script was first developed at the fes val’s Directors Lab workshop and made the 2006 Oscar® Shortlist.

    His talent for character and story again earned him acclaim and awards recogni on for his first feature-length produc on, “Eagle vs. Shark” (2007), the o eat comedy about two lonely misfits and their bumbling a empts to find love. Wai was named best director by the New Zealand Film and TV Awards society (with two addi onal nomina ons as best picture and screenplay) and earned a Grand Jury Prize nomina on at that year’s Sundance Film Festival. The film also went on to win best screenplay at the U.S. Comedy Arts Fes val and a best feature prize at the Newport Interna onal Film Festival. Miramax picked up distribution rights based on a five-minute trailer shown at the Cannes Market.

    Wai ’s second feature, “Boy” (in which he not only starred, but directed and wrote as well), is a rite-of-passage tale that explores some of the characters and ideas he introduced in his short “Two Cars, One Night,” with a story revolving around an 11-year-old boy who spins fantasies about his ex-con father (played by the filmmaker himself). The film was one of only 14 titles to make it into Sundance’s World Cinema section in 2010. “Boy” had its New Zealand premiere in March 2010, a er winning the Deutsches Kinderhilfswerk Grand Prix at the 2010 Berlin Film Fes val and a nomina on for the grand jury prize at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival. In addition to the special prize awarded the film at the 2010 Berlin Film Fes val, “Boy” also garnered a grand prize in the general on section, one of the festival’s five subsections devoted to new features. The film still stands to this day as the second-highest-grossing local produc on ever released in his homeland.

    Wai went on to direct several episodes of HBO’s popular, Emmy®-nominated comedy series “The Flight of the Conchords,” which starred another Kiwi na ve, Jemaine Clement, with whom the filmmaker appeared as half of the comedy duo called Humourbeasts in the late 1990s. The pair won their homeland’s second-highest comedy honor, a Billy T Award, for their work together.

    Several years later, Wai and Clement reteamed as co-directors, co-writers and co-stars of the 2015 vampire comedy “What We Do in the Shadows.” The film collected dozens of global film awards and nomina ons, including a Crystal Bear nod as best film/genera on 14Plus at the Berlin Film Festival; the Midnight Madness/People’s Choice Award at the Toronto Interna onal Film Fes val; best feature at Spain’s Sitges-Catalonian Interna onal Film Fes val; best original screenplay from the San Diego Film Critics; and a Saturn Award nomina on for best horror film from the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror, USA. Like his two previous features, the film had its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival.

    Most recently, Wai wrote and directed the comedy “Hunt for the Wilderpeople,” starring Sam Neill, which hit U.S. movie theaters in June 2016. Following another Sundance world debut in January, 2016, the film had its New Zealand premiere on March 31, and quickly claimed its place as the second-highest-grossing film in New Zealand history in just its first month of release.

    In addition to cas ng himself in several of his own projects, Wai (named as one of ten new talents to watch in the influen al entertainment trade magazine Variety in 2010) made his Hollywood motion picture debut in 2011 in the Super Hero epic “Green Lantern,” based on the iconic DC Comics character portrayed in the film by Ryan Reynolds, and appears in ”Thor: Ragnarok” as the effortlessly charismatic Korg.

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