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Taika Waititi Recalls Losing His Passport And Talking His Way Onto A Plane With The Moana Script And Some Balls Of Steel

Taika Waititi on The Late Late Show
(Image credit: Fulwell 73)

Everyone knows that Taika Waititi’s first entry in the Marvel canon, Thor: Ragnarok, is one of the best Marvel movies out there (and if you don’t, now you do). The film soared thanks to Taika Waititi’s signature sense of humor and zany sensibilities, but he almost missed out on the chance to helm the film. What saved him? A script for Moana and balls of absolute steel. 

In an interview on The Late Late Show with James Corden, Taikia Waititi shared a hilarious story about the time he almost missed a meeting with Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige, and how he was saved by an errant Moana script. How did it go down? Apparently Waititi and his friends had celebrated his birthday in Hawaii, and his buds had taken some of his luggage back to New Zealand. Unfortunately, the filmmaker's passport was in one of those ill-fated suitcases. What’s a Kiwi stranded in Hawaii to do? Waititi recalled: 

Not being American, you can’t travel domestically without some sort of American I.D. All I had was a New Zealand driver’s license. And if you’ve seen one of those, you know it looks like it comes out of a cornflakes box…[the customs agents] laughed at me, they said ‘What the hell is this?’ I said, ‘That’s my I.D.’ And they said, ‘There’s no way you’re getting on this plane, mate. Have you got anything else?’

As someone who just Googled an image of a New Zealand driver’s license, I can confirm that they do indeed resemble a free voucher from a box of Fruit Loops. With his official-yet-useless New Zealand identification failing to make an impact, Taika Waititi dug through his things for a Hail Mary - and found it in the form of an old script he’d drafted for Disney’s Moana that the House of Mouse had passed on. He explained what happened next:

By now, a bunch of them had gathered around and were all laughing at me. I looked in my bag, and I still had a contract, an old contract, sitting in there from Moana, cause I was the first writer on Moana. And I said, ‘Look, all I’ve got is this.’ It’s from Disney, Marvel, all the same people, you know. I’m trustworthy. And to their credit, the guy looked at the thing, he said, ‘Hey, bro, you’re working on Moana. Hey, we’re pretty excited about that. Get on that fucking plane.’

Score one for Taika Waititi, who was able to make it to his rendezvous with Kevin Feige and subsequently snagged the chance to direct Thor: Ragnarok. It may not have been entirely legal, but when a movie like Ragnarok is the result, no one seems too inclined to snitch on those customs agents. 

We may also have those customs workers to thank for Thor: Love and Thunder, which will also be directed by Taika Waititi. The film, which Taika has described as ‘"crazy," is expected to up the ante from the previous installment while also maintaining the same sense of fun that permeated its predecessor. So, customs workers at that specific airport, if you’re reading this, we owe you one. 

Taika Waititi’s Thor: Love and Thunder will arrive in theaters on July 8. Until then, you can catch up with the native New Zealander by streaming Thor: Ragnarok with your Disney+ subscription. Already rewatched it fifty million times? You’re not alone. Check out these upcoming Marvel movies to keep you occupied. 

Actor, singer, and occasional dancer. Likes: fashion, books, old buildings. Dislikes: cilantro, the NJ Turnpike, sneaker wedges.