Following the huge critical and box office success of “Thor: Ragnarok” in 2017, writer-director (and voice of Korg) Taika Waititi has returned to give us another wacky adventure with “Thor: Love and Thunder.”
This fourth movie in the standalone franchise focuses on the 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 a pair of screaming goats — set out to stop Gorr (Christian Bale) from his quest of destroying all the gods.
Like “Ragnarok,” Waititi’s brand of comedy is prevalent throughout the movie, but there’s also a heartfelt relationship story. And those looking for action won’t be disappointed by the film’s big fight sequences featuring everyone from the Guardians of the Galaxy to Zeus (Russell Crowe).
Insider spoke on the phone with Waititi, while he was taking a break from writing his upcoming “Star Wars” movie, to discuss “Love and Thunder” secrets and spoilers, including the movie magic done to make Natalie Portman look like she’s 6 feet tall ; why Waititi never wants the deleted scenes featuring Jeff Goldblum, Lena Headey, and Peter Dinklage to ever be seen; and why Russell Crowe shot all his scenes twice: once in a Greek accent and once in a British accent.
What was the scene that was shot at a Best Buy parking lot?
Okay, so there were probably two scenes there. But the main one was we did some additional photography for the end with the scene where there’s the water environment by Eternity. So we built a pool of water, it was only like two feet deep. It was really to get bits of information from characters. Because we’re having all these things happen: Gorr is coming to this place to make a wish? In the edit we were like, “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 gorgeous sequence.
It really is. Best Buy is not dead.
Natalie Portman’s Jane Foster character becomes Mighty Thor and with that she goes from being 5 feet 3 inches to around 6 feet tall. So was she just walking on stilts or standing on boxes this whole movie? How did you pull off her looking like she was taller?
We built a whole bunch of decking around the set. First we would block out the scene — mark out where the actors have to go so the crew knows the whole layout — and once we did that we built an elevated platform that was 4 feet high from the floor that she would walk on. But we also had to leave room so Chris and Tessa could walk around at regular height. It was a weird maze. But it worked.
At the beginning of the movie Thor is still with the Guardians of the Galaxy. Was there a version of the story where there was more of the Guardians group in the movie?
The plan was always to have them in the beginning and then move on. Because they have their own movie. There was talk about having them come back at the end.
That was my feeling: you are introducing them in the beginning because they are going to swoop in at the end.
The thing is that happens in every movie. No more. No more of the cavalry coming at the end. So we shelved that idea. We just wanted Jane to come in at the end.
What is the origin story of the screaming goats?
They were never meant to be screaming. The goats were always going to be there because they are in the comics, but we didn’t know how they would sound. Then someone in post-production found this meme of a Taylor Swift song that has screaming goats in it. I didn’t even know that existed. So I heard the screaming goats and I just felt it was awesome. A lot of people think it’s me screaming. It’s not.
So someone just cut the screaming into one of the goat scenes and you liked it?
I think one of the vendors that was making the CG goats, they just added the Taylor Swift song “Trouble,” but the fan-made one with the goat sounds, and we just thought it was so funny. So it was just a shot of how the CG creatures were coming along, it wasn’t meant for the film or anything, it was just an update. And the screams were freakin’ awesome.
Russell Crowe has a Greek accent playing Zeus. I like to think he just showed up on the first day of shooting with that voice.
No. You would love to think that, I would love to think that. We actually talked at length about the accent. We wondered if someone did a Greek accent of a Greek god, is it going to be a farce? Will it be too silly? And Russell was very much wanting it to be Greek. But I wasn’t sure, so we ended up doing two versions of every take with Russell. One in a Greek accent and then another in a British accent. Because I felt people would think Zeus would sound British like Laurence Olivier in “Clash of the Titans.”
But then I realized in post that it’s actually more offensive to the Greeks to have Zeus sound like he’s British. And test audiences loved the Greek accent. I’m really happy with it. But, yeah, he had to do every take once in the Greek accent and once with a British accent because I couldn’t make up my mind. But Russell was right all along.
Who came up with the RIP Loki back tattoo?
It was a comedy bit that was supposed to be in “Ragnarok.” When Loki faked his death and he’s reunited with Thor and Thor can’t believe he’s alive, he was to say, “I mourned you, look I even got this stupid tattoo,” and Thor lifts his sleeve and it’s a tattoo that says ” RIP Loki.” For some reason it didn’t make it into the film, but I was determined to get it into this one so I doubled down and put it on his back. And then [Marvel Studios head] Kevin [Feige] was like, “Can we make it five times bigger?” [Laughs.] So that’s why it covered his entire back.
Throughout the movie Jane is trying to come up with a cool catchphrase for herself. At the end there’s a great moment where Jane whispers her Mighty Thor catchphrase to Thor. We don’t hear it. Is there actually a catchphrase?
It’s like, does Bill Murray ever really say anything to Scarlett Johansson in “Lost in Translation”?
The moment is very much a hat tip to “Lost in Translation.”
Even when we were shooting it we were like, “Yeah, we’re just taking this from ‘Lost in Translation.'” But, I don’t know what she said. I would 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 movie it says, “Thor will be back,” so do you —
Well, guess what? That was a surprise to me, too.
Are you serious?
I’m not joking. I saw it in the theater and I was like, “Oh, shit. Really?” Even Chris was like, “What?” But, of course he’ll be back. He’s the best character. I mean, I may be a little biased, but he’s the most fun to watch.
Now, I don’t know what would be next. I would definitely do one, but only if Chris did it. But it would need to be something surprising and unexpected for me to want to do it. Like what would be the new take? The battles and all the fighting is fine, but I would like something that feels unexpected when it comes to the story. Like making just a $5 million movie with no fighting at all, just Thor on a road trip. Like “Nebraska.”
There’s a lot you shot that was left on the cutting room floor. Is there something you’re most disappointed isn’t in the movie?
I wrote the thing so when you cut anything it’s a little bit of a challenge to yourself because you’re like, “Am I not that good? Should I have seen this coming?” But every film I’ve done I’ve probably cut the same amount out. When you go into the edit you just never know. A scene on its own could be the funniest thing or intriguing thing, but sometimes those things if you keep them in will just make the movie screech to a halt. So you have to do what’s best for the film.
And if you ask any of those actors who were cut out — Jeff Goldblum, Lena Headey, Peter Dinklage — they all understand how it works. They have been in the game long enough. But that’s just the way I look at things.
So this is your way of telling me you’re not going to give me a moment.
I’m not going to give you a moment because this is my way of telling you, like, people say, “I can’t wait for the deleted scenes with those actors.” I don’t want people to see the deleted scenes because they’re deleted for a reason: They aren’t good enough. [Laughs.] The scenes were not in the movie and that’s it.
This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.