HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA – OCTOBER 27: Roman Griffin Davis attends the Academy Of Motion Picture Arts And Sciences’ 11th Annual Governors Awards at The Ray Dolby Ballroom at Hollywood & Highland Center on October 27, 2019 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
  • Golden Globe Awards

Nominee Profile 2020: Roman Griffin Davis, “Jojo Rabbit”

When first auditioning for Taika Waititi’s Jojo Rabbit, 10-year-old Roman Griffin Davis had no idea it was to play a wannabe Nazi and certainly not that the character would have the Führer himself as an imaginary friend. “I thought it was about Peter Rabbit,” said the young and very poised British actor to the Hollywood Foreign Press Association recently.It all happened by accident as, at the time, Davis had been on the Twentieth Century Fox lot, to try out for the role of Christian Bale’s son in Ford v Ferrari. “We had been auditioning for four months, seen several hundred tapes and he came out of nowhere and he stunned us,” remembers New Zealander Waititi of his young discovery. “He is incredibly sensitive, emotionally mature and connected to other people well. He comes from a beautiful family of filmmakers (his father Ben Davis is a cinematographer, his mother Camille Griffin a writer-director) and he has been on set a couple of times with his dad but had never acted before which I found fascinating. He is also incredibly smart and informed.”Jojo Rabbit is Waititi’s adaptation of Christine Leunens’ 2008’s darkly comic best-selling novel Caging Skies. In writing the script, the Thor: Ragnarok director injected his own brand of humor into the story he described as an offbeat anti-hate satire and added the character of Adolf Hitler as a clownish caricature which he plays himself. The film takes place in 1944 Germany, where ten-year-old lonely Jojo, discovers that his single mother (Scarlett Johansson) is hiding a young Jewish girl (Thomason McKenzie) in their attic…Having been enrolled in a Nazi Youth Camp, his beliefs and blind loyalty to a murdering racist regime soon to be shattered as he embarks on a journey of self-discovery with unexpected consequences.The movie is Roman Griffin Davis’s first professional acting gig. Not counting playing a tree in a school play, which, he said, gave him a lot of acting experience! To prepare to play Jojo, he was diligent in learning about the period. “Personally, I have been taught about the Second World War and the Holocaust”, he explains, “even though not at my school in England. But I never knew about the Hitler Youth. I found out when I started researching it and watching documentaries and how kind of creepy and psychopathic it was and how basically the Nazis brainwashed and manipulated children to become psycho robots, their lives drained. It’s interesting to see children in the war.”“For his call back,” recalls Waititi, “he had decided to educate himself on the Holocaust and the first time he saw me dressed up as Hitler, he got emotional because he knew the connection and what it meant. So, I knew I was in good hands working with him.”  And the young actor credits Scarlett Johansson for being a great support during the filming of the movie in Prague last year. “She is a mother and she was a child actress and she encouraged me to be the best I can. ”At such a young age, Davis comes out as funny, smart and worldly, without the too often rehearsed sounding answers that plague many of Hollywood-groomed child actors. His screen debut is impressive as he delivered a genuinely natural performance totally devoid of affectation and any mannerism.The young actor believes the film’s message is easily understandable even for a young audience. “That it’s important for kids to see how little bits of hate can end up going really far.” Jojo Rabbit was critically well-received and won the Audience Award at the last Toronto Film Festival. “I am really happy just to be part of something that was risky and powerful and wasn’t safe,” he admits.Griffin Davis has recently opened an Instagram account and already has 9,953 followers.Now 12, Roman Griffin Davies joins quite a list of very young thespians to have been nominated for a Golden Globe. Tatum O’Neal (Paper Moon,1974), Justin Henry (at 9  for Kramer vs. Kramer, 1980), Ricky Schroder ( at 10 for The Champ, 1980 ), Macaulay Culkin ( at 11 for Home Alone, 1991), Haley Joel Osment ( at 12 for The Sixth Sense, 2000), Anna Paquin (at 12 for The Piano, 1994), Kirsten Dunst (at 13 for Interview with the Vampire, 1995), Quvenzhané Wallis ( at 12 for Annie 2015). Not a bad company…