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Taika Waitiki is stepping in front of the camera again, but this time for someone else’s comedy creation.
The New Zealander, who directed himself as Adolf Hitler in the upcoming dark WWII comedy feature Jojo Rabbit alongside Scarlett Johansson and Sam Rockwell, and is set to helm an upcoming Time Bandits TV series for Apple and a live-action feature adaptation of Akira, will guest-star in an episode of IFC/Channel 4 series Year of the Rabbit.
Set in Victorian era London, the comedy focuses on a crime-fighting trio, led by Matt Berry’s Detective Inspector Rabbit, assisted by Susan Wokoma (Chewing Gum, Crashing) and Freddie Fox (Victor Frankenstein, King Arthur: Legend of the Sword). Details of Waitiki’s character have yet to be revealed, but Berry, who stars as the vampire Laszlo in Waitiki and Jemaine Clement’s What We Do in the Shadows series on FX, says to expect him to feature in episode three of Rabbit.
“Taika would do anything, he would,” says Berry when asked if Waitiki takes on anything particularly outlandish for Year of the Rabbit.
The pedigree on the series is robust. It’s directed by Ben Taylor, recently lauded for both Netflix’s Sex Education and Amazon/Channel 4’s Catastrophe, and is written by Andy Riley and Kevin Cecil (Emmy Award winners for their work on Veep), with additional material written by Berry. Rabbit also boasts Bodyguard’s Keeley Hawes as a recurring main player throughout all six, half-hour episodes. Hawes is playing against type; her character described as the “mysterious Lydia,” in a move that Berry hopes viewers will appreciate. At a recent early screening of the first two episodes at BAFTA’s London headquarters, Hawes’ role evoked evident delight.
“Hopefully the audience (when Rabbit airs) will with any luck react like that,” Berry says. “You know, ‘ooh, it’s the famous drama lady,’ do you know what I mean? That’s the function (of casting Hawes).”
If the first two episodes of Year of the Rabbit are anything to go by, the series is set to lampoon stereotypes of Victorian and modern life, while being playful with the tropes of the detective series. There’s also much playfulness with profanity, which went down a treat with the early British audience at BAFTA. And Berry doesn’t sense that any of that humor from swearing will get lost in translation when American audiences get to see DI Rabbit in action.
“Certainly, the reaction to Shadows over the past couple of months, they’ve gone for [heavy swearing],” Berry notes. “This [show] is with an accent, this is with stronger accents, so that might be difficult, but I don’t think that swearing … the c-word can be a problem, but they can bleep that.”
Year of the Rabbit is due to air on Channel 4 in the U.K. on Monday, June 10, with a specific launch date yet to be announced for IFC.
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