Tom Hiddleston on Loki’s Transformation in ‘Thor: Ragnarok’
The consistent complaint with Marvel films always comes back to ‘the villains’. They’re boring, ill defined, one-dimensional, yada-yada… But there is one exception everyone agrees on, the one villain who may even be better than the hero himself – Loki. Everyone loves Loki. Tom Hiddleston, from Thor through The Avengers, has crafted not only the signature Marvel villain, but just a great villain period (regardless of genre/company).
There is though a law of diminishing returns with villains. The Hannibal Lecter of Silence of the Lambs can over time easily become the Hannibal Lecter of Red Dragon. Hiddleston seems more than aware of this trajectory, stressing the need to find different shadings to his most famous character. Thor: Ragnarok paints Loki in a far different light, the character humbled into working with his former enemies (Thor & Hulk) to take on an even bigger threat: Hela (Cate Blanchett).
In the following on set interview with Tom Hiddleston, the actor discusses adjusting to Thor: Ragnorak’s more comedic tone, playing Loki again after a four-year absence and developing new facets of the character for the sequel. For the full interview, read below.
At the end of Thor: The Dark World, Loki’s got everything he ever wanted. How has it gone for him since?
TOM HIDDLESTON: You’ll have to wait and see. That question is answered in this film, so I’m loath to tell you because I think it’s surprising and fun. But yeah, you’re right. He finished Thor: The Dark World on the throne and it’s taken awhile for anyone to catch on…
Has Loki changed at all?
HIDDLESTON: Yes, but that’s in his nature. He’s a mercurial spirit, and the minute you try to define him, he changes shape. Events in Ragnarok do try and inspire him to change forever… The Goddess of Death shows up, and the stakes are high for everybody, so Loki, perhaps more than ever, is challenged to define himself in the face of that threat.
How does Loki view Thor this time around?
HIDDLESTON: I’ve said this about Loki before, but the opposite of love isn’t hate but indifference. The idea that Thor might be indifferent to Loki is troubling for him, because the defining feature of his character is ‘I don’t belong in the family; my brother doesn’t love me; I hate my brother.’ And the idea that his brother’s like, ‘Yeah, whatever’ is an interesting development. But what I loved about Ragnarok when I first read it, the two of them are placed in such an extraordinary situation where everything is unfamiliar, that they’re familiarity as family members becomes important.
What was it like having the tone change for Thor: Ragnarok [in a more comedic direction]?
HIDDLESTON: It’s fantastic. Chris is hilarious, and I’ve always known him as a hilarious man, even making the first film. I love that his comedy chops are being flexed and it’s great for the film. We have the luxury of having established so much. Everybody knows Asgard; everybody knows the rules, so now we can play with archetypes and tropes and expectations in a really fun way.
Does Thor getting funnier piss Loki off?
HIDDLESTON: It’s very funny — when we go down to Earth, Thor is dressed in a T-shirt and jeans and Loki is dressed in a beautiful black, single-breasted suit because he’s stylish. But there’s a moment where they bump into two girls on the street and they’re big Avengers fans and they want to take a selfie and Loki think this is all extremely childish and so uninteresting and dull. He’s, like, ‘Oh great, I have to deal with my brother’s fans now. His superiority is funny there.
Last time we saw Hulk and Loki, they weren’t on the best of terms. How are Loki and The Hulk relating to each other now? It looks like they’re fighting side-by-side here…
HIDDLESTON: The way I see it is in The Avengers, Hulk and Loki never really had a conversation. It was more of a ‘physical meeting’, an extended ‘group hug’ shall we say. So it’s fun when the two of them [meet up again]. You’ll see. I don’t wanna spoil it.
You teased that Loki realizes he can’t do it all himself. How much fun is that to actually play?
HIDDLESTON: Loki’s a character that has always tested the limits of his power and has always tested the boundaries placed upon him. He doesn’t just stick his finger in the electrical plug socket. He burns the house down and, [now] he has to deal with the consequences of, like, ‘Oh shit – I started something here.’ I can’t reveal what makes him rethink his perspective, but there is a big event that does it.
Why does Loki have so many costumes in this film?
HIDDLESTON: That has nothing to do with me. It’s something to do with what happens at the end of the first act. Thor and Loki find themselves in a new environment, and the first thing Loki decides to do is get some new threads…
Is there a pretty woman involved?
HIDDLESTON: In my head, there is… In my head, Jeff Goldblum takes Loki out to Rodeo Drive and says, ‘Pick the finest fabric you can find…’
What does Loki think of Hela and what she represents?
HIDDLESTON: He and every other character underestimates her power, and they underestimate the secret she has which blindsides them all: the idea that she has been lying in wait all this time for the stage to be set for her return. She is all-powerful, and so everything about her is surprising to Loki and to Thor as well.
You said today was the first time that you and Cate actually got to share a scene…
HIDDLESTON: We actually shared another scene, but this is the first two-hander we have…
Can you talk about the dynamic between you two?
HIDDLESTON: Yeah, they recognize in each other that [they] prefer anarchy to order, that chaos is more fun, if a little exhausting. They also recognize the aesthetic value of a green cape. If you’re gonna be bad, you might as well be bad with style…
You haven’t been Loki in several years. How was it coming back to this defining role after such a long absence?
HIDDLESTON: I wasn’t sure how I was gonna feel until I arrived. There was a new costume design as there always is… And when [I] put on the [costume] and the wig and did a camera test, I just opened my mouth and the voice was there. Somehow he’s been part of my subconscious for so long. It’s interesting… Loki is a little different. Sometimes Taika and I will be looking at playback, and I’m just so much older than I was, not in a depressing way, but it’s interesting how just things read differently.
Do you pay much attention to the fan reaction to Loki in the movies?
HIDDLESTON: Of course, I’ve been delighted, amazed, flattered, and humbled by the reaction. It’s something I never expected…
Does it make it intimidating at all to come back?
HIDDLESTON: I feel a huge responsibility for it. I feel a huge sense that this is a character people care about, and I feel like it means a lot to me to, to deliver the character people know and love, but also to try my best to… I’m not just putting yesterday’s dinner in the microwave and reheating it; I’m evolving the character, developing him, and inventing new things for people to appreciate, or love to hate, or laugh at. I’m usually the butt of the joke. Let’s face it.
Thor: Ragnarok opens in theaters on November 3rd and advance tickets are now on sale wherever tickets are sold. For more of our set visit coverage, peruse the links below.