Taika Waititi revealed that Fox Searchlight wanted him to play Hitler in the comedy “Jojo Rabbit,” during a Q&A at the Variety Screening Series presented by Vudu.

“It was like, ‘Hm, who should play Hitler? How about that Polynesian Jew from New Zealand? With hair that actually looks like this,'” Waititi said. “When I wrote it, I actually had no intention of playing that role. After I wrote it in 2011, I got distracted and went and made three other movies. That’s when Fox Searchlight got in touch and said, ‘Look, we’ve always loved this thing and we’re only really interested if you play the Hitler role.'”

Waititi, who also directs, was joined by producer Carthew Neal and cast members Roman Griffin Davis and Thomasin McKenzie on the panel.

“The hardest thing was finding Roman,” Waititi continued. “It’s the most important role and we auditioned kids for about four months. He came at the very end, right when we were forced to make decisions. And Roman came in and saved us. I tend to use child actors who have never done anything before because I feel like they give better performances, more natural and pure performances. Once the film’s over, I get all the accolades, take credit for everything and then discard them.”

“Jojo Rabbit,” based on Christine Leunens’ novel “Caging Skies,” hits theaters on Friday.