Not only is actor Tom Hiddleston a charming impressionist, Comic-Con god, and Joss Whedon's secret soft-spot, but he's also an incredibly thoughtful person to chat deeply with about the inner workings of the God of Mischief, Loki, and his new mindset in Thor: the Dark World, premiering this Friday. Which we did. Swoon!
io9: You were truly the break-out star of Avengers. In fact, one could argue that Thor, Avengers and Thor 2 make up a Loki trilogy. What's it like being in the third?
Tom Hiddleston: It's like so many things. My first day of shooting was like meeting an old friend. It was exactly 12 months since I wrapped on Avengers. [There was] a lot of self-applied pressure, but it always is, that's partly why I love doing it. [I'm] really acknowledging the privilege of a third chance. It's so rare, as an actor that you can get a second chance on a character as an actor, let alone a third chance. And really wanting to expand and evolve and deepen the characterization. And keep him interesting (for me and the audience). And try and find new ways and new things to do. And that, in a way, was how we all came up with — all of us Alan Taylor, Kevin Feige, Chris Hemsworth — with this very complicated and fresh allegiance between Thor and Loki. You've seen them as antagonists for two films, and here was a way of doing something a bit different.
We've seen two versions of Loki — is this a combination of those two versions, or a whole new rebirth of Loki?
I've always felt is if there's a continuity. But I guess that's because it's me, every time. So I can never quite see what it looks like from the outside. There are so many points of Earth contact, which feels like one arc, but of course there are external influences. There's new directors, new costume teams, new hair and make-up teams, new stunt teams, new practitioners. Actually, Chris and myself are actually the only things that stay the same, in that dynamic of course.
I would say it's both. There are certainly elements of Kenneth Branagh's Loki (if we can call it that) in the sort of broken prince, the damaged, vulnerable, lost child is still there. But also Joss Whedon's charming psychopath is still there, too. And I think the thing that Alan brought to the table for this particular version is the playfulness. He really wanted Loki to be a trickster, to inhabit his moniker as the God of Mischief. And make mischief, so that's what I did.
He seems likes someone who is reluctantly on the road to redemption. Do you think Loki is redeemed in this film?
The thing is he always keeps people guessing. One of the most interesting conversations Chris [Hemsworth] and I kept having was, "What does Loki want in the end?" What does he want? I was unable to come up with a definitive answer. Perhaps because I don't think Loki even knows. He's become so accustomed to occupying opposition. Whatever the status quo is, he's opposed to it. That's why he's a trickster, a shapeshifter, a deceiver, a strategist, a manipulator.
I do think that there are elements of selflessness that you haven't seen before. Because the stakes are so high, that he's pushed to do something beyond self-interest. Whether he sees it as redemption or not, that's another thing.
Is there anything that could make Loki happy really?
Maybe. Maybe this film answers that question.
Is it difficult to play someone who doesn't have an end goal in sight? And could his goal be the throne of Asgard? Because I don't think he would be happy once he got it.
There's a whole comic devoted to that. It was an amazing inspiration before I played Loki for the first time. The conceit is that Loki is actually on the throne, he gets everything he wants, Thor is defeated and he isn't happy. In fact, he needs Thor to define him. He needs the opposition. Which is quite an interesting way to look at life. Freedom is scarier than constraint. Constraint gives you a reason, it gives you resistance. It gives you tension, it gives you something to fight. Freedom dares you with a question, what are you going to do? I don't think Loki has any idea.
What was it like being told to come back to set because the filmmakers wanted more Loki in Thor 2?
Very gratifying. On one level it's just a relief because you never know if it's working until it's out there, until people give you feedback. And then there's also the challenge of just trying to shift your mind and your body back into gear, because it's been months and months since you've actually been in that character. You have to kind of get back into this mode. But it was lovely, it was a great compliment to heat that.
The Internet loves you, and the Internet also loves putting characters together and hoping for them to get into a relationship. Is there any characters from the Marvel universe you would pair together like that?
Oh goodness, I'm interested in major cross-pollination. What about Sif and Captain America?
Wow, I could totally see that. They're both so righteous.
Right? And they're also quite isolated.
That's a very thoughtful response.
There you go.
We'll have much, much more from Hiddleston after the movie's release this Friday. Until then, watch this fantastic Thor: The Dark World clip where it looks like Loki is about to cry, and try not to cry yourself.