“She is very maternal, but not even just with kids. Even with me, she’s very protective and she would look after me like, ‘Are you OK? You seem tired,’” director and star Taika Waititi told Us Weekly exclusively at the film’s L.A. premiere, presented by Casamigos, on Tuesday, October 15. “She just likes looking after people. And with [costar] Roman [Griffin Davis], she doubled down on that. She really started to care for this kid.”
Davis could not help but agree. “She really encouraged me, and I felt nervous and she could see and she made me feel less alone,” the actor raved to Us. Johansson, 34, plays the young actor’s mother in the movie.
While Thomasin McKenzie crossed paths with the Avengers: Endgame star in a limited capacity, the experience was still powerful. “We only had two scenes together, really. So, we didn’t spend a lot of time with each other. But in those two scenes, I felt like we were really on the same level,” she noted. “She’s just a wonderful person.”
McKenzie, 19, added: “She’s had such a massive career, but she’s remained so humble and really strong throughout it.”
Waititi, 44, also revealed how Johansson’s role as a mother in real life — she shares 5-year-old daughter Rose with ex-husband Romain Dauriac and got engaged to Colin Jost in May — influenced her performance.
“I like to think that, also, actors are able to find a way into any role, even if they aren’t a mother. They can find a way to find that empathy or their level of wanting to care or to be fiercely protective of a child,” he explained. “As a father, I feel like … having kids has impacted my understanding of that stuff a lot. So maybe it helped a little bit more, but I think more than anything she’s amazing [in] this film. And I feel like, I’ve never seen her do something like this before. It really submits, by belief, that she’s just one of the greats.”
Johansson (Rosie), Waititi (Adolf Hitler), Davis (Jojo) and McKenzie (Elsa) star in the film about a young German boy who finds out that his mother is hiding a Jewish girl in their home during World War II. Sam Rockwell, Rebel Wilson and Alfie Allen round out the cast.
Jojo Rabbit will be in theaters on Friday, October 18.
With reporting by Taylor Ferber
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