Thor: The Dark World hits theaters this weekend, but it's not just the blond hero we're looking forward to seeing back on the big screen — we also can't wait to see more of his deranged brother, Loki. I visited the set of the Thor sequel in London last year and got a few minutes with the man behind the "god of mischief," Tom Hiddleston. Hiddleston talked about why he loves playing Loki in all of his insane glory and what else we can expect in the aftermath of all the destruction Loki caused in The Avengers.
Do we see the consequence of your actions after you come back to Asgard?
Tom Hiddleston: Well inevitably, Loki's back in Asgard. That's where everybody saw him go with Thor at the end of The Avengers in Central Park. And what's exciting about this film is that it depicts the aftermath of those events, and you get to see the opinion of certain principal characters in Asgard. You get to see every character's perspective on what Loki did, and they tend to be different and desperate and varying in tone and empathy. But it's exciting. It's a springboard into a new chapter. It means that, as an actor, I'm not repeating myself in any way, because the last time Loki was in Asgard was at the end of Thor when he let go of the spear and he disappeared into a wormhole in space and time. And then he spent a degree of time on Earth trying to destroy New York. And now he's back in Asgard as a different being with a different mind-set. And therefore, the kind of the chemistry that he created just by being back there is unpredictable and fantastic.
Is there a darker tone in this movie in general?
TH: I think so. I think our privilege with being allowed to make it is that we've established the characters of Thor and Loki across two films. So it means you can color in more shades with each character. It means that Thor can get darker as a character, and more complicated. It means that Loki can get in even more complexity and dimension. The most interesting thing about being alive is that there is no black and white; there are many shades of gray. It's fascinating that Thor: The Dark World came as a title because the story revolves around Malekith, and he was a dark elf. But it's not just about the mythological and physical battle between dark and light. There's something about growing up, and accepting responsibility no matter who you are. Whether you are crowned a king, a king in waiting, or a shamed prisoner. Accepting responsibility and growing up is dark. It's a dark experience.
What kind of character development went into Loki?
TH: He has an interesting relationship going back within the environs of his family. Those relationships are really interesting. And, you know, he's a psychopath. The exciting question is, why? Why does any psychopath perform those acts? Why does he wish everyone such ill? And what does he want? And does he even care what he wants? As an actor that's a really exciting thing to delve into, when you're that dark and you're so full of destruction and hate and sabotage.
Do you like Loki?
TH: I do, yeah. As an actor, you can't sit in judgment. So in my own mind, I've unpacked his suitcase of pain. I can easily stand up and defend him even though many of his actions are indefensible. But what's interesting is those answers are locked in some kind of cabinet right at the bottom of him, and nobody has the key. So yeah, I do like him. I also find him enormously charming. Like he's someone who is really nasty, but really elegant with it. He's someone who looks good doing really bad things. He's having a good time teasing everybody and playing everyone else off each other like a chess master. And now I really feel like I'm the god of mischief. And playing that mischievous element in all its unpredictability is really, really fun.
To see what else Tom Hiddleston had to say about the Thor sequel, just read more.
In the comics, Thor and Loki have a changing back and forth dynamic. Sometimes they're best friends. Sometimes they hate each other. In this film, are they closer to being friends at some point, or is there a unifying thing that brings them together?
TH: It's consistently ambivalent in a way that's true to the comics. And it's really fun for myself and Chris Hemsworth to play because in The Avengers, Thor still really cared about Loki. And part of the reason he was there was almost to protect him. He would just like to try and find the good in him and take him home. And we've been very careful not to repeat that moment. Thor's attitude has to change, therefore Loki's attitude has to change. Their relationship to each other, their need for each other, their antipathy, is constantly changing.
Does Loki show regret for any of his actions in the first two films?
TH: There is a whole scene dedicated to whether or not that happens [laughs].
This is your third time playing this character. How much more ownership are you taking in Loki in this film versus the last two? And do you find that people are going to you more to get advice on the character?
TH: Yeah, that's what's been really exciting. I remember talking about the story for this film with the producers while we were doing press for The Avengers. I feel very fortunate to have their confidence because I've lived though him. Other people can have their opinion objectively about where Loki should go, but I've lived through every moment. And sometimes I might be the only person who knows how it feels. I always have ideas. Some, I'm sure, are terrible, but some of them are good, and they're in the film. That's really exciting, when I feel like I know every inch of Loki. Other people have written him, other people have shot him, other people have framed him. But I know his inside.
Has being part of this franchise changed you?
TH: It hasn't. It was strange for a second when the film came out because it was so much bigger than I'd anticipated. The bit I love is I really love acting. And the circus of it. The circus of a celebrity is something I'm not interested in. I find it strange. This business is so complicated, and I try not to think about it because then you'll start barking up the wrong tree. Just because you're good at something doesn't mean you'll necessarily be good at something else. You just try and chase opportunities that you fall in love with, or that inspire you, and keep doing the work. It was a bit weird for a second though. I'm just used to being so invisible in London like any other Londoner, and suddenly I wasn't for about three weeks at a stretch.
A lot of the characters have changed their costumes over time, but you've stayed consistent. Will we be seeing you in a different outfit?
TH: There's a moment where I'm definitely in a different costume. Also, some time has passed and I don't think he's been sent to the finest barbers in Asgard.
So does the costume help you tap back into Loki's mind-set?
TH: Absolutely. Because the strange thing is, by the time we started shooting it was exactly a year since I'd been inside the sort of skin of Loki. And naturally, when you finish something, every actor's suit you just sort of put it away. And you put it away forever because normally you never have to come back. So I've lived a whole 12 months of life. I've done a lot of other things. And I'm a different human being. So, in a way, coming back to the same costume and the same hair and the same look is like, "Aha! I recognize this guy." It's like regreeting an old friend.