Drawing on his own Jewish heritage and experiences growing up surrounded by prejudice, writer-director-actor Taika Waititi was excited to make a movie against hate through a satire of Nazi culture at the height of world war two.
Until he saw himself dressed as Adolf Hitler for the first time. He said he felt "shame and embarrassment."
Jojo Rabbit tells the story of a boy in the Hitler Youth who discovers that his mother is hiding a Jewish girl in their house.
From there things get complicated, as the boy's imaginary friend is Hitler himself.
Waititi, who previously directed Thor: Ragnarok for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, plays the imaginary Hitler in Jojo Rabbit.
The movie stars fellow MCU alumns Scarlett Johansson, who is also Jewish, and Sam Rockwell, among others.
"Wearing a Hitler costume was jarring," Waititi said, "but I eventually concluded that it's not Hitler."
"This character is conjured from the mind of a ten-year-old. So, he is a ten-year-old in a grown-up's body. One way I like to think of disempowering Hitler, was to take over his body, put those clothes on and take his mustache and his haircut", said Waititi.
"Then it felt in a way like I had possessed him and then I could control him and do whatever I wanted. I could be nice, or I could be even more of an idiot. And I could be like this real kind of clumsy buffoon and that's what I enjoy. I really enjoyed being able to ridicule him from within his clothes, I guess."
The is based on the novel "Caging Skies" by Christine Leunens.
While the book is more dramatic, Waititi decided to use that as a base, while adding more comedic elements.
As troubling as it was for Waititi to see himself dressed as Hitler, it was also disturbing for his cast to be directed and ordered around by someone wearing a Hitler costume.
Actor Alfie Allen walked on to set for the first time to find his director already in full costume.
"It was definitely an arresting image to be greeted by your director dressed as Hitler. And so yeah, he kind of was conscious of that. At times I think he would know that if he was getting us a little bit irate that he would have to kind of reel in because it was genuinely frightening for people," said the Game of Thrones star.
Waititi remembers Johansson, who plays the young Nazi boy's mother, rolling her eyes at his costume. But what concerned Waititi was the emotional reaction of his young star, Roman Griffin Davis.
"He's so empathetic that he had done all this research of what the victims of World War II had gone through and stuff, and I think he was so struck with that that when he saw me, he got really emotional and I got really worked up because he associated that - and rightly so - with murder of millions and millions of people", Waititi said.
"But it was just such a pure reaction from someone who's so pure hearted."