One of the many tabs I’ve had open for AGES is the Empire Magazine podcast interview with Tom Hiddleston (and some others, but, you know…TOM HIDDLESTON), from I guess right after TDW was released in the UK. You can find the full podcast here. Hiddleston’s part is near the end. This is a spoiler-free interview; they did a separate one that includes spoilers and hopefully I’ll get up a post with that one, too.
In the meantime, I made my own transcription of the parts that interested me (which, yeah, was most of them), for myself and to be able to share with you.
Tom gave this interview the day before he recorded his commentary for TDW. He said he was going to watch the movie again that night to prepare for it. (I’ve often wondered whether folks giving commentaries prepared, and if so in what way, or if they just watch it and talk. The worst commentary I ever heard was one in which is was clear the director was reading. Awful.) In any event, Tom said he had so many stories from the making of that movie that he worried he’d be talking about boring things “like the shoulder pieces on Loki’s costume which nobody wants to listen to.” [Dear Tom, I cannot speak for anyone else, but I personally would want to hear such stories! The costuming affects the acting — and the actor — and the characterization. And those of us writing fanfiction would probably like to know what words to use for all those costume bits, ha.]
And on to the partial transcript:
On Loki & “evil”:
He didn’t start evil, he started as a prince…and it’s about tracking his descent into supervillainy in a way.
On Loki telling Odin he was just doing what Odin once did on Earth:
He has a point, he always has a point. He’s smart and intelligent, and he’s playing some eternal game of chess with Odin, I think. It’s not over yet…shall we just say. Somebody may be in check…but it’s not quite checkmate.
(He’s avoiding spoilers here.)
On whether we’ve seen the true Loki:
I don’t know. […] Chris wanted to know. He’s just like, what does he want? Does he want to be king? Does he want to be in the family? Does he want…what actually does he want? […] And I don’t know if I know the answer to it entirely — does he want to win the game, or is it the game itself that gives him a raison d’etre? […] There are moments across the three films where you do see the truth. You see some kind of authentic feeling from him — once in Ken Branagh’s film, where he finds out that his whole life has been a lie. The scene with Odin, which I really depend upon as a kind of cornerstone to my performance because I know that it’s there and I know that it worked and suddenly his whole life fell apart and the sky fell in and he was left reeling from that revelation. And then I think there’s a scene in this film where Thor calls him on it and says ‘Enough. No more tricks. No more illusions. Show me yourself.’ And he does. I don’t want to reveal when that is, but I’m really pleased with that scene.
Two of the favorite scenes of every Loki fan, I imagine. Certainly for me. I have always taken that prison scene to be a genuine moment, too, and it’s great to hear Tom confirm it.
On how Loki Can’t Get No Satisfaction:
It’s a great line, that one. And I remember thinking about it as I was learning it, and maybe that’s the answer.
(I think he’s referring to the question of “does he want to win or is it the game itself?”)
On whether anything surprised him about Loki in TDW:
Tom first says something about expanding on the fun he had in Avengers; I didn’t write it down word-for-word, because I’d heard that bit elsewhere.
…and in a way reverse the arc of the character. Because he’s always defined himself in opposition. Thor has always been offering an olive branch. ‘Come back. We forgive you. Come back.’ And it’s Loki’s kind of arrogant privilege to say ‘No. I still hate you.’ And…in this film I think…nobody’s offering the olive branch. He’s in prison, condemned to be written out of history, forgotten, unseen, unheard, and haunted by his demons. You have to change at that point. So that surprised me. How far further down does he go before he hits rock bottom? Is there one for him? And…could he come back up?
On music for playing Loki:
In rather an odd moment (to me), that made it feel more like a regular conversation than an interview, Tom played a song called “Mind Heist” from I guess his Mp3 that I guess he frequently listens to when trying to get into Loki’s head. In the beginning he says, “I always think that’s his mind ticking over.” (If you listen to it, turn up your volume for that first “Loki’s mind ticking” part, it’s quiet.) Then it was so funny and unexpected, the music picks up and he breaks into Loki-voice and says, “If you did you’d be the fool I always took you for” (a cut line from the great Thor/Loki confrontation scene, originally preceding…) and “Trust my rage.” I do love it when he quotes his lines. Years after the movie… Amazing.
On whether he missed the helmet:
My horns [laugh]. It’s funny the thing about the horns because I feel like there’s only one particular way of being when I’m wearing the horns. They’re so theatrical, they’re so statuesque. In a way the scenes have to be quite grand when he’s in them and…’cause it cuts off so much of my face, I have to so much acting from withinside* it because a lot of my face is covered…so I wouldn’t say I missed them [laugh]. But they’re there in spirit.
*This is a perfectly lovely phrase…said aloud. I have no idea how to write it. “Within side” is illiterate…so is “with inside.” But the word “withinside” does not technically exist. Clearly it should though. Neither “within” nor “inside” are quite the same thing…
I think I had watched TDW several times before I actually realized Loki never had the horns. I have to say, I really like the horns. “Iconicity” to the character aside, they are an incredibly powerful visual. I remember a mini on-set interview with Tom from Thor in which he talks about the way the helmet comes down and forces you to look out from underneath it…he says it better than me, in any event, it just really adds something to the character. BUT, I understand, though the actors never said so in so many words, they’re pretty miserable to wear, kind of like sticking your head in a sauna apparently. So I wonder how far backwards Tom is bending in the above to stay polite! If you think about it, though, too, from a characterization standpoint, I’m not sure when Loki would have worn his horns in this movie. The only time Loki’s being “grand” in the way I understand Tom to mean is when he offers up Thor to Malekith. BUT, here, for Malekith’s consumption, he’s 100% abandoning his former identity (“I am Loki of Jotunheim”), and I don’t think he would have “magicked” those horns on for the impression he was going for there.
On what would have happened had Loki won in The Avengers (“because he essentially made the deal with the devil with Thanos to take over Earth”):
Yeah. Good question. You have to wonder how much do you trust Thanos to keep his end of the bargain. I guess the deal was, Loki could use the Tesseract to take over the Earth to become its king, then he’d hand the Tesseract back and the rest of the universe would be Thanos’s playground. I don’t know. You have to wonder what a Loki-led New York City would look like. A lot more ‘Welcome to the Jungle’ I think.
Not an entirely fair question in a sense — Tom didn’t write the script, and even the guy who wrote the script doesn’t have a “real” answer for this. We big-time fans can’t help filling in all the holes and the backstory, the futurestory, the counterfactuals…and sometimes writing fanfics about them. But, in reality of course, nothing beyond the script actually exists. Anything beyond the script is anybody’s guess. And I once heard William Shatner poke fun at fans (good-naturedly!) who ask him questions like that at conventions…and seem to expect he has a “real” answer. Tom of course thinks it over, seemingly seriously. I wonder if he’s ever thought about it before, if he (or any actors) consider counterfactuals for their characters.
The “Welcome to the Jungle” reference is because when he first tried to play “Mind Heist” (see above) he accidentally played “Welcome to the Jungle” instead. (And why did I link to a version with Spanish subtitles? Because I wanted one that doesn’t make you listen to an ad first. I detest YouTube these days, I refuse to watch ads on free user-uploaded content.)
On Loki not being “the greatest long-term planner”:
No! [Interviewer: He’s very capricious and in-the-moment.] Yeah, but that goes all the way back to Stan [Lee] and Jack [Kirby], you know, he’s just…he just wants to win, now…or if he doesn’t want to win he just wants everyone else to lose. [pause] But right now. [laugh] I do wonder, the thing is he almost wins…if it wasn’t for the sacrificial quality of Tony Stark and the Jolly Green Giant otherwise known as the Hulk.
On the Hulk-smash:
…after all this tyrannical fascism and megalomania, to have the rug pulled out so beautifully from his feet just to be Hulk-smashed was so funny…like a wet fish. And making that moment took about three days. Because it was just me. Mark Ruffalo had done all of his…what they call motion capture work in a different studio with Industrial Light & Magic, and it was just me and Joss on the set and I was jumping into these holes that had been dug out by the production design team [laugh]. It was absurd. And we made each other laugh. The real thrill was when I first saw it with a crowd and people stood up and applauded and threw their caps in the air and that was when I knew it really worked. [Tom demonstrates his wheezy breathing sound.] He just deserves it. Especially for calling him a dull creature.
Great stuff, huh? Hope you enjoyed it!