The last thing anyone thought, while watching 2011’s "Thor," was that the bad guy, based on the Norse God of Mischief and performed by a little-known British actor, would become the breakout character not just of "Thor" but of the entire Marvel Universe. But that’s exactly what happened when Tom Hiddleston took on the role of Loki, which he reprised for last year’s blockbuster "The Avengers" and in this week’s "Thor: The Dark World." If you don’t believe the kind of response Hiddleston gets, just look up footage of his in-character appearance at this year’s Comic Con.
In "Thor: The Dark World," Loki gets to play up his Hannibal Lecter-ness a little bit, as an imprisoned character, jailed in an Asgardian cell following the events of "The Avengers." Of course, when a bigger threat emerges, in the form of Chris Eccleston’s dark elf tyrant Malekith, Thor (played once again by Chris Hemsworth) has to join forces with Loki to defeat the big bad and prevent the Nine Realms from falling into utter chaos.
We got to chat with Hiddleston about what it’s like playing this same character over and over, what he hoped to bring to his portrayal this time around, what it was like working with The Muppets, and why his role in Gullermo del Toro’s upcoming haunted house movie, "Crimson Peak," made him cry.
Moviefone: Loki seems to have become the signature character in the Marvel universe that people latch onto. What has that been like for you?
Tom Hiddleston: What has it been like for me? Where do I even start with that question? It’s been a constant string of surprises and the whole journey has been above and beyond my expectations in any capacity. Honestly, making the first film was hugely fulfilling and the first in so many instances. It was my first time working in America, it was my first time on a big-budget, commercial film, and I had no idea it would turn into such a rollercoaster. So, yes, the surprises keep coming.
Did they give you any indication of where your character would go?
I guess they did. And when I initially signed on, Kevin Feige, the first thing he mentioned was "Avengers." And, I guess I had a healthy skepticism that, you know, we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it. Let’s do these, each step at a time. A run before you can walk kind of thing. At the time, it wasn’t that I didn’t believe Kevin; I completely trusted him. It just seemed like making "Thor" was a monumental challenge in and of itself; I couldn’t think myself into it. Because I was cast in 2009 and we eventually shot "Avengers" in 2011 and so many other pieces had to fall into place. I didn’t stop to think that far ahead.
You’re obviously not going to be back for "Avengers: Age of Ultron," but is playing this character again something that you look forward to?
I have no idea when that would be. But I have had an amazing run, you know? And there is something about the playfulness, the mischief, that is enormously fun and rewarding. So, yeah. All I can say is: who knows? It’s all been a surprise up until this point. I am sure that there are more surprises to come.
Joss Whedon helped out a little bit on "Thor: The Dark World." Did he get to write any of the deliciously wicked Loki lines in this one?
I don’t know that he did, actually. In fact, he wrote some of the more complicated emotional stuff. And, yes, [screenwriter] Chris Yost was on-hand with Loki snark, and Alan Taylor and Kevin Feige were really open to my input. So there are a couple of my own lines in there, too, which I’m very proud of.
How did you feel about giving up the spot of the movie’s No. 1 bad guy to Christopher Eccleston?
Well, I’ve admired him as an actor for a long, long time, since long before I decided to become an actor myself. He has an amazing presence on stage and on screen, which is formidable, and I speak from experience, it’s not easy being the bad guy. Because, in a way, the villain becomes the spine of the film in some sense because you are the threat that has to be overcome by the hero. And Chris Eccleston was amazing in it. There’s a sort of Herculean endurance test with all of the make-up and stuff that he’s wearing. But he has a real power and he’s more than a match for Chris Hemsworth. I love the finale. It’s great.
With your appearance at Comic Con and D23 over the summer, it seems like Disney loves you as much as you love doing stuff for them.
Yeah, yeah, totally. It’s been a surprise, because when I signed on to play Loki, Marvel hadn’t collaborated with Disney yet. And then it happened sometime on my engagement with Kenneth Branagh‘s "Thor" that Disney bought Marvel. And then, strangely enough, I made "War Horse" with Steven Spielberg and that was a coproduction between DreamWorks and Disney as well. And then "Avengers" and Tinkerbell… I’ve always been a huge fan of Disney. It was always a huge part of my childhood, and all of the animated films, like "The Jungle Book" and "Aladdin" and "Robin Hood," those are the ones of my childhood anyway. And the live-action stuff, like "Mary Poppins" and "Bedknobs and Broomsticks." Honestly, it’s just been a great surprise for me. And the thing is that I’ve had a good time making the things that I’ve made with them.
And you’re in "Muppets Most Wanted," right?
I can say to you, Drew, that I have shared screen time with Kermit the Frog, that I have unquestionably peaked, and that it is all downhill from here. [Laughs] It was amazing. It was absolutely the most fun I’ve ever had. I should say I have a very, very small part in it. But those three days with those wonderful creatures were amazing.
You’re also about to start a spooky movie for Guillermo del Toro. Can you tell us a little bit about "Crimson Peak?"
Sure. It’s very much a return to Guillermo del Toro’s primary passion, which is gothic romance and horror and the sophistication of ghost stories that come out of a very particular genre of 19th century literature. The kind of twisted, intimate dynamics between people that yield ghost stories. And it’s very much in that context. It’s got a very adult sensitivity. But it’s also absolutely bone-chilling.
Yes, I heard you cried while reading it.
Well, it’s odd because that’s how fear manifests in me. I don’t know why. I can’t explain it. Some people, the hairs on the back of their neck stand up, some people get the chills, some people get the shivers. I just involuntarily weep and my face was awash with tears with this one. I can’t wait. It’s going to be Jessica Chastain, Mia Wasikowska, Charlie Hunnam, Jim Beaver, and myself.
"Thor: The Dark World" hits theaters this Friday.