Why Taika Waititi Directed Thor: Ragnarok in a Mo-Cap Onesie
Between all the superheroes and supervillains, directing a Marvel movie takes an effort that verges on the superhuman. But when he was making Thor: Ragnarok, Taika Waititi had to do more than wrangle Thor, Loki, and the Hulk; he also cast himself as Korg, the stone-man gladiatorial fighter who becomes Thor’s new mate. “I usually put myself in my films,” says Waititi, who played a vampire in his 2014 horror spoof, What We Do in the Shadows. Turning into Korg, though, required more than fangs and makeup. In addition to a mo-cap suit, he also had to lug around a camera rig, battery packs, and Korg’s face, all while acting (and joking) alongside Chris Hemsworth’s God of Thunder. Did he ever have to call “Cut!” on himself? “All the time,” Waititi says. And yet that couldn’t have been as awkward as directing superstars in a skintight onesie.
Because Korg is nearly 8 feet tall, Waititi had to pretend as though he were towering over his scene partners, while they had to play to a Korg cutout looming a foot and a half above Waititi’s head.
Not only did Waititi have dozens of sensors on his face, he also wore a helmet with a selfie cam so postproduction could map his expressions to Korg’s.
“A lot of the scenes with me and Chris [Hemsworth] were improvised,” Waititi says. “The more we messed around on set, doing voices and things, the more we cracked up at this character who was just a version of me.”
A mo-cap suit let Waititi’s movements be tracked so they could be re-created in CGI. “You have these pajamas on, and you’re covered in tiny Ping-Pong balls,” he says. Luckily for his dignity, he wasn’t alone—castmates and the stunt crew were often clad in gray leotards too.
“I’m not a method actor, so I didn’t cover myself with rocks,” Waititi says. But he did learn to rein in his hand-waving to appear more stone-warrior-like. Even so, his gestures had to be slooowed dooown in postproduction.
This article appears in the November issue. Subscribe now.
"Thor: Ragnarok" Official Trailer
Official trailer for the new Thor film.