New interview with Tom from today at Royal Television Society panel discussion for Loki.
Tom Hiddleston has said he sees himself as a “temporary torchbearer” when it comes to playing Marvel’s god of chaos.
Hiddleston made the comments in a panel discussion about Disney Plus’ original series “Loki” on Wednesday evening hosted by the Royal Television Society. Hiddleston was joined on stage in London, U.K. by his co-star Sophia Di Martino, who plays Sylvie, series writer Michael Waldron and director Kate Herron [who appeared via Zoom.]
“I’m a temporary torchbearer,” Hiddleston said of sharing the character with Di Martino as well as Richard E. Grant and an alligator — all of whom play Loki variants — in the series. “I’ve always thought that. It’s a great role. It’s an archetype, the trickster god, the agent of chaos. I’m just here interpreting that for the time being. Loki has been here for centuries and will be here for centuries more and I’m just stepping into that silhouette for now.”
His comments come as the first tranche of Marvel Cinematic Universe faces — including Robert Downey Jr. and Chris Evans — hang up their superhero suits following the release of “Avengers: Endgame” in 2019.
Hiddleston, who has now been playing Loki for over a decade, explained that he was drawn to making the eponymous limited series due to the show’s themes of identity and acceptance. “This idea of somehow the [Time Variance Authority] confronting Loki with the shape-shifting nature of his identity and asking him ‘Who are you?’ I found it a new avenue to explore with this character I’ve been playing for a while,” Hiddleston said. “It felt original. It didn’t feel like we were repeating.”
“Loki,” which centers around time travel, even touches on more erudite topics such as philosophy and psychology. “Michael [Waldron] and I were having breakfast a couple of years ago when [he’d] written that first pilot and found ourselves talking about psychoanalytic theory and repetition compulsion and [the question of] can you ever change?” Hiddleston recalled. “Is it possible for people to change? Even if you do will people accept that you’ve changed? Is it possible to know yourself entirely?”
“And then Owen [Wilson] came and was so forensic about examining all of that stuff, and then we realized we were in a police detective thriller. When I was cast as Loki however many years ago, I never thought this character is a detective. But he is here.”
In a wide-ranging talk, Hiddleston, Di Martino, Waldron and Herron discussed various aspects of the series, which will be returning for a second season. “You’ve got to test the fences,” Waldron, who has also written the forthcoming “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness,” said of some of the show’s wackier elements (such as the afore-mentioned Loki alligator).
“With [Marvel Studios president] Kevin Feige, you get to see how far you can go,” Waldron explained. “So you write in Sylvie soccer kicking an armadillo with a laser mounted on its back and they tell you ‘OK, that’s too much. I like the mind invasion but maybe pull back on the laser armadillo.’”
Waldron also revealed that “Loki’s” dialogue-heavy structure was “me testing the fences. That could have easily been another laser armadillo situation.”
He recalled turning in a 15-page dialogue scene between Loki and Mobius for the pilot episode with the expectation he’d eventually cut it down. “And instead the response came back, ‘Can this be longer?’” Waldron said. “And so then I got excited.”
In Waldron’s eyes, the extended dialogue made sense for the character. “One of Loki’s superpowers is his ability to talk his way out of any situation, talk his way into any situation. You want to watch Superman fly, so I wanted to watch Loki talk.”
“And so because this was a show — because we had six hours — that was the most exciting thing to me,” Waldron said. “We get to take a villain from an action movie franchise and have these dialogue-heavy scenes that feel like prestige television.”
The extended dialogues and long takes (“I love a long take,” Herron admitted) also gave the actors the sense they were acting in a theater at points. “Owen actually turned to me at one point said, ‘This feels like a play,’” Hiddleston recalled.
The scale of the show presented a challenge, however. “It was like making almost three Marvel movies just because we were filming so many hours of content at the same time,” Herron said. “I think I just didn’t think about it in terms of the massive scale and just tried to tackle it day by day, just because it was such a mammoth task to get it done.”
Di Martino had recently given birth when she embarked on the shoot, which required her to relocate (with her family) across the Atlantic, so she said it took some time to grapple with the enormity of the job. “There was a lot going on,” said Di Martino. “I think I didn’t really come to terms with it. I just sort of ignored it for as long as possible and just treated it like any other job.”
“And then there’s a moment where you’re on the stage in the studio with, you know, Gugu [Mbatha-Raw] and Tom, and we’re doing this huge fight scene,” Di Martino recalled. “And there was a moment towards the end of filming where I was like, ‘Shit. I’m doing a Marvel show.’ I think it took a while to sink in.”