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Taika Waititi Will Star as the Pirate Blackbeard in HBO Max’s ‘Our Flag Means Death’ Series

Oscar winner Waititi will also direct the pilot and, as previously announced, serve as executive producer on the pirate series.

FILE - This Jan. 27, 2020 file photo shows Taika Waititi at the 92nd Academy Awards Nominees Luncheon in Los Angeles.  Waititi, the New Zealand filmmaker of “Jojo Rabbit” and “Thor: Ragnarok," will direct a new “Star Wars” film. He will co-write the film with Krysty Wilson-Cains, who wrote the World War I thriller “1917” with Sam Mendes. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP, File)

Taika Waititi

Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP

Taika Waititi is expanding his duties on the upcoming HBO Max period series “Our Flag Means Death. In addition to directing the pilot and serving as executive producer, the Oscar winner will also star as the notorious pirate Blackbeard.

“Our Blackbeard is a legend, a lover, a fighter, a tactical genius, a poetic soul, and quite possibly insane. Only one man could play this role, and that is the great Taika Waititi. We’re thrilled beyond measure he’s decided to don the beard,” showrunner David Jenkins said.

Waititi is joining previously announced cast member Rhys Darby, who worked with director Waititi on the film version of “What We Do in the Shadows,” co-directed by Jemaine Clement. He also starred in the TV series “Flight of the Conchords,” on which Waititi served as director. Joining Jenkins and Waititi as executive producers are Garrett Basch (“The Night Of”) and Dan Halsted (“Garden State”).

“Our Flag Means Death” is loosely based on the true adventures of Stede Bonnet (Darby), a pampered aristocrat who abandoned his life of privilege to become a pirate. Blackbeard, meanwhile, is notorious as history’s most equally feared and revered pirate, and he died in 1718 but went on to inspire countless film, TV, and literary projects. 

Taika Waititi’s latest film “Jojo Rabbit” received six Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture, and earned him an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay in February 2020. Waititi previously directed the critically favored blockbuster “Thor: Ragnarok” for Disney as well as the beloved indie films “Hunt for the Wilderpeople,” “What We Do in the Shadows,” “Boy,” and the Academy Award-nominated short film “Two Cars, One Night.”

More recently on the TV end of the spectrum, Waititi directed the Season 1 finale of “The Mandalorian” for Disney+, in which he also voices “IG-11,” and he serves as executive producer on the ongoing FX TV adaptation “What We Do in the Shadows,” for which he’s directed several episodes.

Waititi is currently in post-production on the soccer comedy “Next Goal Wins” for Searchlight Pictures, which he co-wrote with Iain Morris, directed, and produced, based on the 2014 British documentary of the same name. He’s also in production on Disney’s “Thor: Love and Thunder.” Waititi co-created and will executive-produce the upcoming FX comedy series “Reservation Dogs” and can be seen in 20th Century Studios’ upcoming feature “Free Guy,” releasing August 13. Waititi also recently lent his voice to “Save Ralph,” Spencer Susser’s stop-motion animated documentary-style short film made as part of an ongoing Humane Society campaign to raise awareness about animal testing.

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