When 19-year-old actress Thomasin McKenzie met Taika Waititi — the director and her costar in the film “Jojo Rabbit” — for the first time, he suggested she watch “Heathers” and “Mean Girls” to get into the character she played, Elsa.
McKenzie was confounded, and understandably so. The movie is about a Nazi boy whose imaginary friend is Adolf Hitler himself; the boy, named Jojo, discovers his mother is hiding Elsa, a young Jewish girl, in their home.
What did an Eighties cult classic and the legend of The Plastics have to do with anything?
“And then I realized, as he talked more about it: the point of watching those films was for me to remember that Elsa’s a teenage girl,” McKenzie explains, seated in a chair at the Bowery Hotel on a recent afternoon. She’s in New York (without a chaperone for the first time, she adds,) doing interviews, Q&As, panels and more press for “Jojo Rabbit,” in theaters today. It’s just one of the projects that have led to the busiest year of her young life, career-wise; McKenzie appears with Timothée Chalamet in David Michôd’s “The King,” and in the upcoming “True History of the Kelly Gang” with George