Unlike the thoroughly deceptive Asgardian trickster he embodies, actor Tom Hiddleston is charmingly candid on just about any topic you care to throw at him. Reprising his role as Loki for Thor: The Dark World, Hiddleston reveals nearly as much as the premier villain of the Marvel Cinematic Universe holds back on a litany of topics: how to play a lying god, feeling like an honorary Hemsworth sibling and scaring a child fan among them.
Fandango: Do you know when Loki is telling the truth and when he's lying? Because it ultimately ends up being very difficult to tell, even based on his actions.
Tom Hiddleston: I know, I think that's part of his raison d'être as the god of mischief, as a trickster. In the mythology, I think he was described as “the First Deceiver,” and it's as though in the great poker game of Asgard, it's the game itself that he enjoys more than the end. He tells the truth very, very rarely, because he never reveals his true hand, and it's always interesting, particularly for me, to play those scenes where he is in fact being authentic.
"In the great poker game of Asgard, it's the game itself that he enjoys more than the end."
Fandango: This story gave you so many different opportunities. What were the days that you were thrilled to go to work, and what were the tricky days that you thought for a minute, I don't know how I'm going to pull this off?
Hiddleston: This sequence in The Dark World where Thor and Loki are creating illusions to save the day, let's say. The specifics of that were quite complicated because there are so many twists and turns, and I remember thinking, I have to be very precise here, otherwise I'm going to lose the audience. And in terms of days where I was just happy to be at work, there's a scene where Thor and Loki are walking and talking down a colonnade, and Loki truly inhabits his shape-shifting spirit, and that was immense fun.
Fandango: Working with Chris Hemsworth over the course of three movies, how close have you two become? Are you practically an honorary Hemsworth brother at this point?
Hiddleston: It does feel like that. There's such a depth of mutual understanding that we don't really have to explain things to each other. Four years ago when we were both cast in these roles we were at a very similar point in our lives, a similar age. We'd both been kicking around the business for a while and felt such mutual excitement at this enormous opportunity. And both of our lives have changed hugely as a result. It's really nice to kind of be able to share that with someone who has been alongside in some capacity.
Fandango: How do kids react to you on the street when they know you as Loki? Do they get a little freaked out?
Hiddleston: Recently I went to have dinner with a director friend of mine in North London and he has a six-year-old son. So I turned up on the doorstep at about seven o'clock and walked up the stairs and his son saw me and ran and jumped behind the sofa, in his pajamas, and said “It's Loki! He's come to get me!” But there was a sense of he knew I wasn't really Loki, but he wanted to play the game that I was. I went to say goodnight to him, and his bedroom was wall-to-wall plastered with Avengers posters. And it kind of hit home that this is the object of this young boy's imagination, and I felt so proud in that moment because I remember what those things were for me. So I feel thrilled to be part of something that has that kind of appeal.
"There's such a depth of mutual understanding that we don't really have to explain things to each other."
Fandango: How do you show shades of emotion within Loki, but always manage to deliver that he's having a good time being bad?
Hiddleston: I guess it's just my own playfulness, in a way, expressed through the sort of slightly distorted mask of Loki's hair and makeup and costume. I'm really lucky in the three who directed me – Kenneth Branagh and Joss Whedon and Alan Taylor – they've always encouraged that. They've encouraged the twinkling delight that Loki takes in provoking chaos.
Fandango: And you're going to be working with another great filmmaker, Guillermo del Toro, in Crimson Peak. What hooked you on that particular project?
Hiddleston: The script is incredibly sophisticated and I think it's a return for Guillermo to his great passion, which is gothic romance and horror. The evolution of ghost stories from a very specific period in 19th century literature where an interest in the supernatural comes from the complexity of adult and intimate relationships. The script is absolutely bone chilling and predicated on these fascinating relationships between characters played by Jessica Chastain, Mia Wasikowska, Charlie Hunnam and myself.
Fandango: As far as green costars go, how was working with Kermit the Frog in Muppets Most Wanted, as opposed to the Incredible Hulk?
Hiddleston: Kermit the Frog treated me with a greater degree of equanimity and respect than the Incredible Hulk, I'm pleased to say. It's probably safe to say that I've peaked and it's downhill from here.
Fandango: Did you start buying into that you are there with Kermit and the other Muppets, addressing them as actual living, breathing actors?
Hiddleston: Oh, you bloody believed in their existence. Yeah. I still do.
Fandango: Finally, tell us the through line that you see between the worlds of Shakespeare and Stan Lee.
Hiddleston: I think there is something about exploring human nature with larger-than-life characters, with different degrees of drama and tension and comic relief, of course. Shakespeare used his plays about kings and queens and princes to sort of play out these dynamics about very human failings of jealousy and pride and love and grief and family dynamics – redemption dramas, if you will. And Stan Lee was doing the same thing in his own way. You know, superheroes suffer from human failings as well. Both Stan Lee and Shakespeare have their own way of exploring drama and storytelling.
Thor: The Dark World comes to theaters Friday. Are you going?
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