Taika Waititi’s Thor: Ragnarok is largely credited with giving the titular God of Thunder a much needed character overhaul. But the director claims he nearly didn’t get the project over a very jarring passport snafu. Who among us hasn’t hasn’t experienced the harrowing 10 minutes of misplacing your passport while traveling abroad. On the Late Late Show with James Corden, Waititi recounted how he almost missed the meeting with Marvel execs because he lost his passport. Or rather, his passport was in New Zealand while he was in the US.
(The segment begins around the 3:49 mark.) Waititi shares that several years ago, he was celebrating a birthday with a bunch of pals in Hawaii. While said friends then headed back to New Zealand, he headed off to mainland US to meet with Marvel about the Thor job. The big issue: he gave a bunch of luggage to his friends to take home for him—which included his passport. That’s a nightmare to sort out anyway, let alone when you’re about to fly to one of the most important meetings of your career.
Waititi added that the only official form of ID he had on him was a New Zealand driving license. Which, he added, looked like a prize from a cereal box. And certainly not an official ID. Maine, where I’m from, had a similarly cartoonish driving license until my early 20s, so I too have spent a lot of time justifying the validity of an official ID that I, in good faith, cannot stand behind.
He shared that while the US customs agents got a good laugh at the ID, he had one last trick up his sleeve. To back up his story about his identity and where he was off to, he showed an old contract he had with Disney. (Waititi was Moana‘s initial writer.) It proved particularly timely. Luckily, that did the trick and the agents let him board the plane. And the rest is Marvel history. Forget the incredible directing, imagine an MCU without Korg!
Waititi, whose latest project, Our Flag Means Death, just debuted on HBO Max, has continued a prosperous relationship with Disney. He’s back as director and co-writer of Thor: Love and Thunder, which debuts in July 2022. Plus, he voices a droid in The Mandalorian, also directed an episode. And then there’s his own Star Wars project, which is currently in the works.
It’s wild to imagine a world where Waititi isn’t working on several of Disney’s biggest projects—across several umbrellas. It sounds like we have Moana and some enthusiastic customs agents to thank. One question remains: How did he get his passport back? Snail mail or a little trip to the New Zealand consulate?