Following the critical and box-office success of 2017’s Thor: Ragnarok, writer-director (and voice of Korg) Taika Waititi returns to bring us another wacky adventure with Thor: Love and Thunder.
This fourth film in the standalone franchise focuses on Marvel hero Thor (Chris Hemsworth) reconnecting with his ex Jane Foster (played by Natalie Portman), who becomes the Mighty Thor to fight her cancer. The duo – along with Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson), Korg and two screeching goats – set out to stop Gorr (Christian Bale) from his quest to destroy all the gods.
As in “Ragnarok,” Waititi’s brand of comedy is prevalent throughout the film, but there’s also a heartfelt relationship story. And those looking for action won’t be disappointed with the film’s big fight sequences, which feature everyone from the Guardians of the Galaxy to Zeus (Russell Crowe).
Insider spoke to Waititi on the phone while he was taking a break from writing his upcoming Star Wars movie to discuss the mysteries and spoilers of Love and Thunder, including the movie magic to make Natalie Portman look like she was she 6 feet tall ; why Waititi never wants the deleted scenes with Jeff Goldblum, Lena Headey and Peter Dinklage ever to be seen; and why Russell Crowe shot all of his scenes twice: once with a Greek accent and once with a British accent.
What was the scene filmed in a best buy lot?
Okay, there were probably two scenes. But most importantly, we took extra photos for the ending with the scene where there is Eternity’s aquatic environment. So we built a pool of water, it was only about two feet deep. It was really about getting information from the characters. Because all these things happen: Gorr comes to this place to make a wish? In the edit, we said, “We need to explain this.”
Because with these films you don’t want the audience to have a lot of questions. We just wanted them to sit back and relax and enjoy the adventure.
It’s a beautiful sequence.
It’s really. Best Buy is not dead.
Natalie Portman’s Jane Foster character becomes Mighty Thor and with that she grows from 5ft 3in to around 6ft tall. So did she just walk on stilts or stand on boxes the whole movie? How did you make her look like she was taller?
We built a whole series of decking around the set. First we would block the scene – mark where the actors need to go so the crew knows the full layout – and once we did that we built a raised platform that was 4 feet high that she would walk on. But we also had to leave room for Chris and Tessa to walk around at a normal height. It was a strange maze. But it worked.
At the beginning of the film, Thor is still with the Guardians of the Galaxy. Was there a version of the story that featured more of the Guardians group in the film?
The plan was always to have them at the beginning and then move on. Because they have their own movie. There was talk of them coming back in the end.
That was my feeling: you introduce them at the beginning because they will collapse at the end.
The thing is what happens in every movie. No longer. In the end, no more cavalry comes. So we shelved that idea. We just wanted Jane to come in at the end.
What is the origin story of the screaming goats?
You should never shout. The goats were always there because they’re in the comics, but we didn’t know what they would sound like. Then someone in post-production found this meme of a Taylor Swift song that featured screaming goats. I didn’t even know it existed. So I hear the goats screaming and I just loved it. A lot of people think I’m screaming. It is not.
So someone just cut the screaming into one of the goat scenes and you liked it?
I think one of the vendors who made the CG goats just added the Taylor Swift song “I Knew You Were Trouble” but the fan song with the goat noises and we just thought it was so funny. So it was just a shot of the CG creatures developing, it wasn’t meant for the movie or anything, it was just an update. And the screams were damn awesome.
Russell Crowe has a Greek accent playing Zeus. I like to think that he just showed up with that voice on the first day of shooting.
no You would like to think that, I would like to think that. We actually talked about the accent at length. We were wondering if anyone made a greek accent of a greek god will it be a sham? Will it be too stupid? And Russell really wanted it to be Greek. But I wasn’t sure, so we ended up doing two versions of each take with Russell. One with a Greek accent and the other with a British accent. Because I thought people would think Zeus sounded British like Laurence Olivier in Clash of the Titans.
But then I realized in the post that making Zeus sound like he’s British is actually more insulting to the Greeks. And the test audience loved the Greek accent. I’m really happy with it. But yeah, he had to do every take once with a Greek accent and once with a British accent because I couldn’t decide. But Russell was right all along.
Who came up with the RIP Loki back tattoo?
It was a comedy that should be in Ragnarok. When Loki faked his death and he’s reunited with Thor and Thor can’t believe he’s alive he should say “I’ve been grieving for you look I even have this stupid tattoo” and Thor lifts his sleeve and it’s a tattoo that says, “RIP Loki.” It didn’t make it into the movie for some reason, but I was determined to get it into this movie, so I curled up and put it on his back . And then [Marvel Studios head] Kevin [Feige] was like, “Can we make it five times bigger?” [Laughs.] That’s why it covered his entire back.
Throughout the film, Jane tries to come up with a cool catchphrase. There’s a great moment at the end where Jane whispers her slogan Mighty Thor to Thor. We don’t hear it. Is there actually a catchphrase?
Did Bill Murray ever actually say anything about Scarlett Johansson in Lost in Translation?
The moment is pretty much a hat tip for Lost in Translation.
Even when we were shooting it, we were like, “Yeah, we’re just taking that from ‘Lost in Translation’.” But I don’t know what she said. I’d like to think it’s something like “your ass is still mine”. [Laughs.] “Your ass will always be mine.”
At the very end of the film it says: “Thor will be back”, you too –
Guess what? That was a surprise for me too.
are you serious
I am not joking. I saw it in the theater and I was like, “Oh shit. Really?” Even Chris said, “What?” But of course he’ll be back. He’s the best character. I mean, I might be a little biased, but he’s the most fun to watch.
Well I don’t know what would come next. I would definitely do one, but only if Chris does it. But it would have to be something surprising and unexpected for me to want to do it. For example, what would the new take be? The battles and all fights are okay, but I would like something that felt unexpected when it comes to the story. Like just making a $5 million movie with no fighting, just Thor on a road trip. Like “Nebraska”.
There’s a lot that you filmed that was left on the cutting room floor. Is there anything you’re most disappointed with not being in the film?
I wrote that thing, so it’s a little challenge for yourself when you’re editing something because you’re like, ‘Am I not that good? Should I have seen that coming?” But with every film I’ve done, I’ve probably left out the same amount. When you go into editing, you just never know. A scene on its own might be the funniest or most intriguing, but sometimes those things just grind the movie down if you keep them. So you have to do what is best for the film.
And if you ask any of the cut actors — Jeff Goldblum, Lena Headey, Peter Dinklage — they all get how it works. You’ve been in the game long enough. But that’s how I see things.
So that’s your way of telling me you won’t give me a moment.
I’m not going to give you a moment because this is my way of saying that people are like, ‘I can’t wait for the deleted scenes with these actors.’ I don’t want people to see the deleted scenes because they deleted for a specific reason: they are not good enough. [Laughs.] The scenes weren’t in the film and that was it.
This interview has been shortened and edited for clarity.