Director Taika Waititi’s next film is titled Next Goal Wins, and it tells the true story of the world’s worst Soccer team. Thanks to EW, we have a first look at the film, which stars Michael Fassbender as a coach named Thomas Rongen, who in 2001 is recruited to coach the American Samoa soccer team in an attempt to reverse the team’s on-the-field misfortunes.
Waititi talked about the film saying: “The story is about the worst soccer team in the world, who famously experienced the biggest loss in an international match against Australia, 31-0, which is about a goal every four minutes. After suffering that huge defeat, they applied to the soccer federation to find a coach who could get them from the very, very bottom of the FIFA rankings.”
The director talked about why he wanted to take on this film project saying: “Years ago, I watched it and couldn’t believe I’d never heard of this story before. I’d never made a sports film before, and I really wanted to try that out. It’s about a sport I don’t know that much about.”
He continued: “Rugby is the national sport in New Zealand, but it’s about underdogs, and I just love underdog stories. Most of my films are about people who live on the margins, or are a little bit left out, and it just fit right in for me. It’s a true story, but it’s got all the elements that all the great sports films have. It’s basically the Cool Runnings of soccer.”
The movie also stars Samoan-New Zealand actor Oscar Kightley, who plays the head of American Samoa soccer, and newcomer Kamaina, who portrays the player Jaiyah Saelua. Waititi says, “Jaiya is a trans player — one of the star players of the team — and a lot of the film revolves around her relationship with Thomas Rongen.”
Next Goal Wins also stars Elisabeth Moss as Rongen’s ex-wife and Will Arnett as a fictional soccer executive. “The thing about turning documentaries into films is, often documentaries don’t have a villain, but you need some sort of outside force that’s threatening the team to give the story some stakes. That’s what I’ve been conditioned to learn in Hollywood. It’s like, ‘Well, you can’t just have a story where nothing bad ever happens to anyone!'”
The movie was co-written by Waititi and Iain Morris. The film’s cast also includes David Fane, Beulah Koale, Lehi Falepapalangi, Semu Filipo, Uli Latukefu, and Rachel House. It will open in theaters on April 21st.