It's remarkable how popular Loki has become. What could have been a forgettable role as a mostly unknown villain (at least to the non-comic book reading population of the world) in "Thor," a then-second-tier superhero movie, has now become something close to a household name. This has everything to to with Tom Hiddleston.
Hiddleston is at the Toronto International Film Festival in support of Jim Jarmusch's "Only Lovers Left Alive." Hiddleston plays Adam in the film, a very sad vampire who spends his days moping around Detroit and being snobby about music (Adam is a Jack White fan, though). This is not a vampire movie that will appeal to "Twilight" fans; this is a vampire movie that will appeal to Jim Jarmusch fans.
In person, Hiddleston is a geyser of charm, and he's certainly not the type who would look his gift horse -- in this case, his gift god -- in the mouth. That's something Hiddleston displayed to dazzling effect at this year's Comic-Con when he took the stage in full Loki wardrobe in front of hundreds of screaming fans. (It's a moment that, as he mentions here, meant a lot to the 32-year-old actor.) Loki aficionados will have even more to cheer about this fall: In the interview below, Hiddleston discussed the post-Comic-Con additions to "Thor: The Dark World," which he says adds a lot more Loki to the film (including one thing that Hiddleston pitched himself).
But, first, the interviewee explains why he was recently the interviewer.
Tom Hiddleston: I just recently did your job.
What do you mean?
Well, I mean I conducted an interview and had to transcribe it.
Transcribing is awful, right?
It's the hardest thing in the world.
Who did you interview?
I was interviewing Natalie Portman.
Did you enjoy being on that side of it?
Very much so, yeah.
I liked listening. And I actually thought, I'd better do my research, like serious reporter. I went back and watched all of her films -- and then you begin to see things differently I guess. The biggest thing I took away from it is actually the perception of the interviewee is a subjective thing. That's what I realized. I realized how much it's my particular view of Natalie. I can't possibly be objective; I bring who I am to the table. And it made me realize, like, your interview with me is your interview with me.
Subjectively, I think you seem like a nice guy because I just watched a video where you gave Cookie Monster a cookie.
[Laughs] Thanks, man. I did. I gave him a whole plate! Yeah, Cookie Monster was a big moment for me.
And now you play a vampire who is a rock snob.
Yeah, he's enamored of the pre-digital age, where making music was making music and it wasn't punching things into computers.
He loves Jack White.
He loves Jack White.
You filmed in Detroit, which isn't in the best of shape these days.
It's empty, that's what it is. I found the people to be some of the most kindhearted, optimistic, energetic American people I've ever met. But the city is empty, in my experience. But I found it, this is the city that America's lost soul -- and it gave me a different view of American history.
Your vampire is a sad vampire. But when you first heard "vampire," did you worry at all it might be too much like Loki, in a larger than life kind of way?
Well, it was just the way Jim Jarmusch told me about the film. I had actually just finished making "Avengers" and it didn't feel like a genre film. It felt like a very small, independent piece, which was about something very delicate. Actually the big sell for me was that he was this gothic rock star poet who happened to have fangs and drink blood.
So I was at Comic-Con when you came out on the stage dressed as Loki.
You were in Hall H?
I was in Hall H and that was a big hit with the crowd. When did you first realize how much people love Loki?
I realized that something special had happened when we were on the press tour for "Avengers."
It wasn't the first "Thor" movie?
I mean, the thing is, the first "Thor" movie was wonderful -- and I think a lot of people were just surprised by the whole film. I think people were very sort of snobbish in anticipation of it. They thought it was going to be some very stupid kind of crash-bang-wallop, not very interesting piece of work. But I think Kenneth Branagh and Chris Hemsworth did something amazing with it.
But Chris is amazing. It was a big deal for him and he's just so loose and so light and so funny -- and that surprised people. And then we went straight into "Avengers," so I didn't really have time to process what it was. It was only really the "Avengers" press tour where it's going to different cities and seeing the responses. And going to Moscow and Rome and London. I was like, "OK, this is a thing." But nothing could have prepared me for Comic-Con.
Was that your idea?
Well, Kevin Feige, the seed was his. He had called me and said, "What do you think? Robert Downey Jr. danced up the aisle last time." He said, "Do you feel like maybe coming out in costume and doing a Loki thing right before?" And then there was this conversation, "Well, what would he do?" And then I sort of said, "Well, look, if I'm going to do it, I've got to go to the whole hog. I can't go halfway." And then I wrote this little monologue which is really a kind of pastiche of other things I'd done in "Avengers." And then I just sort of improvised it. I've got to be honest; I was waiting backstage and I just heard that every single X-Men who has ever walked the earth had been on stage before and I was a little nervous. And I thought Well, hopefully if I just commit to it, it'll go well. And I thought, I could always get them to chant my name if it doesn't work. And I walked out, and the very first thing they started doing was chant my name. And that was really surprising. Some old theater actor friends of mine have said that on opening night of a play in the theater, the adrenaline goes through an actor's body because of the excitement and the terror. And the electric charge of being an actor and the audience is similar to that, which is the experience of going through a car crash. And I felt a kind of adrenaline rush like I've never felt.
I've heard rumors that there was additional shooting after Comic-Con on "Thor: The Dark World," basically to add more of you in. Is that what happened?
I don't know if that's why, but I'm in the film more than I was.
So that's good news.
[Laughs] Yeah! I mean, I don't know quite how the decision was made, but we weren't redoing things we'd done before. We were adding new stuff. So that was fun for me. And some of the things were scenes I'd actually pitched for a long time ago.
Really? You can do that?
Well, the thing about Kevin Feige is he's very, very open and collaborative. And he and Louis D'Esposito, who run the studio -- I find it very admirable that they're open to ideas. Possibly more now than they would have been the first go-around. Chris Hemsworth and myself have lived inside these characters for two movies now and we've been inside every scene and we know what works and we know what doesn't works. And also, we know what we've done and what we shouldn't try to repeat. Because that was the great sort of fire underneath myself was not wanting to take anything for granted or just put the old recipe in the microwave, you know? And try and find new things for the characters to do -- new iterations of the relationship between Thor and Loki. And Kevin was really open to that. I remember as we were conceiving of the shape of the film, Kevin and [director] Alan Taylor were really open to it, especially because they always talk about the connective aspect of the Marvel universal.
Were you surprised when they called you and said, "Hey, that idea that you had, we're doing that"?
I don't know how they got to the idea of it. The good thing about true teamwork when you're making something is that you forget who had the idea. Like, you just know that it's the right idea.
And going full circle, it's nice that you still have time to make a Jim Jarmusch movie.
Well, you have to make time. I mean, you have to make time. I've tried, like between "Thor," "Avengers," and "Thor 2," I've tried to consciously do very different things.. After "Thor," I went and did "Midnight in Paris" and "War Horse" and "The Deep Blue Sea." And then after "Avengers," I went and did these three Shakespeare films for PBS, which is coming out in September. And this was perfect. It slotted in just before I started on the "Thor" sequel. [Laughs] It was a moment when I questioned my own sanity. I flew back from Tangier at the end of August 2012, put my socks in the washing machine, and the next morning, I was back in Asgard. I was like, "I've got to give myself a little more breathing space next time." But mercifully, I don't I don't see any of Loki in Adam and any of Adam in Loki.
Adam is too sad to be Loki.
But he's sad because of his appreciation for music. That's the thing. It's not like he's morose or dark, it's actually that he has such an appreciation for real beauty -- like mathematical beauty and music and astronomy.
And a bit of a snob.
Yeah, he's a snob about it, yeah. But he's depressed by the course of human activity -- the world is going to the dogs. But if you've been alive for four-odd centuries, you're going to have seen a few things and think, well, is this time better than before? In his eyes, it's not.
Mike Ryan is senior writer for Huffington Post Entertainment. You can contact him directly on Twitter.