Stephen Merchant is now a confirmed member of the cast for Taika Waititi's WWII satire, Jojo Rabbit. Based on Christine Leunens' 2010 novel Caging Skies, Jojo Rabbit is written and directed by Waititi and serves as the followup to his smash hit MCU superhero romp, Thor: Ragnarok. The film takes place against the backdrop of the second World War and revolves around Jojo Betzler (newcomer Roman Griffin), a lonely German boy whose best friend is an imaginary version of Adolf Hitler (also Waititi).
Described by Waititi as an "anti-war satire" that gleefully mocks Nazism and their racist beliefs, Jojo Rabbit is currently in production and counts a handful of A-listers among its cast members. The lineup includes Scarlett Johansson as Jojo's mother, newbie Oscar-winner Sam Rockwell as the Nazi captain who runs Jojo's Hitler Youth camp, and Rebel Wilson as the cruel instructor at Jojo's youth camp, Fraulein Rahm. Thomasin McKenzie (The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies) rounds out the ensemble as Elsa Korr - the girl who challenges Jojo to face the truth about himself and what he believes - along with Alfie Allen (Game of Thrones) and Merchant.
Merchant has now confirmed his involvement with Jojo Rabbit through his Instagram account (see the screenshot below). According to Deadline, the actor/writer/director is playing Gestapo agent Captain Deertz, in what is believed to be a cameo appearance. Merchant, who recently played the mutant Caliban in Logan, will appear in the Lisbeth Salander thriller The Girl in the Spider's Web later this year and has the wrestling drama Fighting with My Family (which he wrote, directed, and costarred in) set to arrive next March.
Fox Searchlight is backing Jojo Rabbit, but has yet to announce a release date for the film. Waititi, for his part, is coming off a string of critical darlings that include the quirky comedy/dramas Boy and Hunt for the Wilderpeople, along with his cult mockumentary What We Do in the Shadows and, of course, Ragnarok. The New Zealand filmmaker hasn't been an Oscar contender since he made the 2004 short Two Cars, One Night with Ainsley Gardiner, but it's possible his WWII satire will be the film that finally changes that.
If nothing else, Jojo Rabbit sounds like a movie that's firmly in Waitit's wheelhouse as a storyteller. It hits upon coming of age themes similar to those from Boy and Hunt for the Wilderpeople, while also tackling the issues of racism and white supremacy more openly than those films or Ragnarok (with its subtextual examination of colonialism). Regardless of what happens on the awards season front, Waititi's latest project sounds like a must-seee for fans of his previous work.
We will bring you more details on Jojo Rabbit as they become available.