Taika Waititi Defends Embellishing a True Story in ‘Next Goal Wins’: ‘I’m Just Like the Guy Who Wrote the Bible’

Taika Waititi’s “Next Goal Wins” marks the filmmaker’s first non-Marvel directorial outing since his Oscar-winning “Jojo Rabbit” in 2019. And while the multi-hyphenate has stayed busy with TV projects, including “Reservation Dogs” and “Our Flag Means Death,” he’s as surprised as anyone that it took him so long to release another original comedy.

His latest film, which stars Michael Fassbender as a European soccer coach who takes over the famously bad American Samoa national team, wrapped production in January 2020. Waititi was not able to work on the film during the COVID-19 pandemic, which delayed the editing and reshoot process until it finally premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in September.

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In a new interview with Insider, Waititi explained that he was ultimately grateful for the delays, as his independent film background has always led him to prefer relaxed timelines.

“I always try to have a lot of time,” Waititi said of his post-production process. “‘[What We Do in the] Shadows’ was 14 months of editing. And we needed that to feel we got it right. I always edit and then take time off. I edit, take a month off, come back to it. It’s a shame that we constantly have to rush the post-production process because you spend years writing a thing and then filming it and then you have just 10 weeks in post. What? That’s crazy. So I welcome having time.”

Waititi went on to explain that the pandemic-induced delays gave him more time to revisit certain creative aspects of the film, leading him to cast himself as a priest who narrates the film.

“The little thing like the priest presenting the film, that came right at the end. It was an idea of like, maybe it should be presented as a fable,” he said. “Because, yes, it’s a true story, but I’ve taken a lot of it and turned it into my own thing.”

While “Next Goal Wins” is inspired by the real life of soccer manager Thomas Rongen, Waititi makes no apologies for taking artistic license with the truth and putting his own spin on the story. He joked that his tendency to embellish made him the latest link in a long line of storytellers beginning with the authors of the Bible.

“I mean, in the Bible, they took real-life things that happened and then they added, you know, magic,” he said. “I’m just like the guy who wrote the Bible, bro.”

A Searchlight Pictures release, “Next Goal Wins” is now playing in theaters.

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