EXCLUSIVE: “I have learned, at this point, having said goodbye to the character more than twice, two and a half times maybe, to make no assumptions,” says Loki’s Tom Hiddleston as the hours tick away to the finale of the Disney+ series that drops early Wednesday morning. “We’ll see where the ride goes now,” the Marvel alum adds.
As always with almost any project from the Kevin Feige-run studio, that ride could continue, at least in some form or another. Certainly, the June 9 ‘Glorious Purpose’ premiere of the Michael Waldron-penned and Kate Herron-directed Loki proved the Disney+ and the MCU’s biggest small-screen success so far. Also with any Marvel project, past Emmy winner Hiddleston was elusive on what could be coming next, be it in the Loki finale, another season or another appearance in the movies as the MCU shifts into its next phrase. (UPDATE: Loki is returning for Season 2, revealed midway through the end credits for the Season 1 finale that was released Wednesday morning.)
One thing is clear, after a decade playing the God of Mischief, Hiddleston still has a lot of Loki on the brain, in the best way.
Leading towards the finale, I chatted with a UK-based Hiddleston about returning to play Loki and the search for who or what controls the seemingly all-knowing, all-powerful Time Variance Authority. The Night Manager star also spoke about filming during the coronavirus pandemic, working with Owen Wilson, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Wunmi Mosaku, Richard E. Grant and Sophia Di Martino (who portrays variant and soulmate Sylvie) and his upcoming Apple TV+ series The Essex Serpent with Claire Danes.
DEADLINE: There’s a great line in this season’s penultimate episode where your Loki and Sylvie are stunned at watch Richard E. Grant’s Classic Loki re-create Asgard to distract Alioth, and you say “I think we’re stronger than we realize.” There seems to be a great resonance in the line that there’s a whole lot of Loki coming in the finale and probably more …
HIDDLESTON: I suppose it resonates with the theme that we all wanted to highlight about purpose and about meaning. Loki’s someone who’s probably been deluded by the idea that he’s burdened with glorious purpose, and that perhaps that purpose has been revealed to be fraudulent or meaningless, and maybe his self-image or the role that he has condemned himself to play is redundant.
His experiences through this story have shown him that there are actually more opportunities available to him, and you know, it speaks to this idea, like, can we change? Can we evolve, and in that evolution, is there room to grow? You know, so, I think the stronger than we realize I think is Loki finally understanding that, really, by caring for other people, that maybe there’s power in that, and I found that very touching, and the whole thing is an extraordinary dream.
DEADLINE: Speaking of an extraordinary dream, you have been playing Loki for a decade now, since the first Thor movie. We know you are going to do some voice work in the animated What If…? series, but how has it been having this series directly centering on him, in all his variants, so to speak?
HIDDLESTON: You know Dominic, I have enjoyed it so much, because I felt it was a gift and a privilege to be invited to come and sit at the table and think about what the show might be. Also, I suppose so many of the things that I’ve discovered about Loki as a character in the comics and a character in the Norse myths, in the canon, aspects that I’ve always thought were interesting, and understandably, there hasn’t been time or space in the movies to explore them.
DEADLINE: In terms of who he is?
HIDDLESTON: Those aspects of him have been externalized and embedded into this new story about identity itself and about integrating the disparate fragment of the many selves that he is or perhaps the many selves that we are. You know, we contain multitudes. Loki certainly contains multitudes. We have met many of those multitudes, including Alligator Loki (laughs).
DEADLINE: Sounds like you’re not done with those multitudes yet. From your POV, from conversations with Kevin [Feige], is there more that you see for the character as the MCU heads into its next stages?
HIDDLESTON: Well, I certainly don’t have Kevin’s brain or encyclopedic knowledge or capacity for invention. I’ve been on the ride for a while, and it’s been the most extraordinary journey, and to have lived through different iterations, different phases of the MCU, and I’m so grateful that I’m still here, and it’s been amazing to watch. I feel that the MCU is even more expansive, is even braver, more inclusive than it’s ever been.
DEADLINE: How so?
HIDDLESTON: I think the stories are getting really exciting. Not that they weren’t before, but I think they understand that the investment of the audience is very deep, and they don’t take it for granted for a second. So, yeah, I suppose the perspective I have on how Loki might affect the ongoing course of the MCU is this idea of the multiverse. People have already understood it when Miss Minutes is introducing Loki to the TVA. She talks about the multiverse and the war and the sacred timeline, which is reality as we know it.
DEADLINE: It opens up the aperture certainly for new stories from all opportunities, doesn’t it?
HIDDLESTON: It raises questions of, well, maybe there are other parallel or alternate universes. Maybe there are other realities, and the possibilities there are endless. I feel that at the end of Episode 5, Loki and Sylvie are close to discovering the answers to the questions that they have of who is behind the TVA and that, somehow, this will provoke even more curiosity about…
DEADLINE: …Because in the Marvel Universe, answering one set of questions always leads to another set of questions, in many ways.
HIDDLESTON: Right. Yeah. Yeah, and I know that there are lots of, you know, interesting titles of movies that’ve been announced, which kind of hint at where it might be going.
DEADLINE: One of those that hasn’t been officially announced, but is rumored, is a Season 2 for Loki, in gear under the temporary title of Architect on call sheets and the like …
HIDDLESTON: Well, yes, maybe, as I say, all the kind of multiple alternate realities are …it’s taken me 10 years to get a handle on this sort of mono timeline. The idea that this might be a multiverse is actually beyond my knowledge of physics.
DEADLINE: Well, I doubt that, but let me ask, and no spoilers for the finale or further, but if Kevin, Marvel, Disney asked you to do more Loki, are you game?
HIDDLESTON: (laughs) I have learned, at this point, having said goodbye to the character more than twice, two and a half times maybe, to make no assumptions. So, I’m also aware that I’m only playing him because of the audience, really. So, it’s not up to me. But I do love playing him, and every time, I seem to find new, interesting things about him. So, yeah, I’m a temporary passenger on Loki’s journey, but we’ll see. We’ll see where the ride goes now.
DEADLINE: On the ride, as the finale looms, there’s a ton of fan speculation out there and so much that people have hooked on to from the show. So, as the man at the center of it, what was your favorite part of Loki the series?
HIDDLESTON: That there was meaning in the making of it.
That we crossed the finish line in the middle of a global pandemic and could create something, and more than ever, I felt really grateful for being able to do this job. I think in this there are some of those questions that we were all asking ourselves in the last 18 months in the show, you know, what do our lives mean?
I love taking Loki in new directions. I love the contributions of my fellow actors, of Owen Wilson and Sophia Di Martino and Richard E. Grant and Gugu Mbatha-Raw, and Wunmi Masaku, they all brought so much to the table, and I’ll always remember that. You know, I’ll always remember just being in Atlanta with all of them and making our bonkers show. Yeah.
DEADLINE: Making your bonkers show in Atlanta as the world, as America, was still in the heat of the pandemic. What was that like, because you were in production and then everything stopped and then you came back, right?
HIDDLESTON: I mean, people have used this word a lot, but it really was unprecedented. I think we did six weeks of filming before the hiatus, and then the production was suspended for four or five months, and we came back. At first, it was unfamiliar because we had to make adjustments, but the thing I remember most of all, quite honestly, is the diligence and resilience and spirit of our cast and crew.
HIDDLESTON: Yes, and it remains extremely special for me, this project, for that reason.
For me, it just demonstrated the character of these amazing people. It took a huge amount of planning and care and looking after each other. By that, I mean, being in the bubble. So, for many of us, the only other human beings we saw, really, were each other. So, we came to work, and we became a team, and the circumstances fostered this extraordinary team spirit, and so the memory of making it is really my incredible and deep respect and affection for my fellow filmmakers. People like Trish Stanard, our line producer. Richard Graves, our first AD. Kristina Peterson, our second AD. Autumn Durald, DP. Kevin Wright, our supervising producer, and so many others making sure everyone could stay safe and look after each other.
It’s really…I find it…it’s very moving, and it’s remarkable, and I just want to salute them all because I couldn’t have done any of it without them.
DEADLINE: In that vein, you have just come off filming The Essex Serpent with Claire Danes for Apple TV+. Very different from Loki, and yet also a tale of what is real and who we are. Is that what attracted you to it on some level?
HIDDLESTON: I read it and immediately connected to it. Read the screenplay, the adaptation. It’s based on a novel by Sarah Perry, which was published in 2016 and is set at the end of the 19th century. It’s an extraordinary story about uncertainty and about our deepest fears and how sometimes our fears can distort our imaginings and how our minds can lie to us. About how we have to guard against that, and Perry sets it in this extraordinary time with a beautiful leading character of Cora Seaborne, played by Claire. Anna Symon adopted it.
There’s this community on the east coast of England who believe that an ancient beast has been awakened by an earthquake and that it’s dislodged all these fossils. But perhaps, it has also dislodged this ancient underwater monster, which has been used to explain certain unusual phenomena. This was in the era when Darwin had just been published a few decades before and people are starting to think, this Charles Darwin, he’s onto something. Still, fear spreads very quickly, and it’s a very fascinating time where science and faith are in conflict.
DEADLINE: When you describe it like that it sounds very Loki indeed.
HIDDLESTON: Maybe the themes are very Loki. Maybe that’s where they join up, but I’m playing a 19th century vicar who is trying to contain his community. You feel very destabilized by all these rumors. So, yeah, to go from Loki to a vicar was definitely new, a new territory.
DEADLINE: Literally and figuratively?
HIDDLESTON: Well, it’s my first significant time in Essex, where we filmed, which I feel embarrassed about. I’ve been to Essex before, but I’ve never been to the very, very eastern, most eastern coast of Essex. It’s the Blackwater Estuary, which then feeds into the River Thames, and it’s a very ancient part of England. It’s so marshy, it’s where in Great Expectations, that’s where Pip meets Magwitch for the first time. It’s all foggy and muddy and marshy and quite atmospheric and a perfect place to set a story about of uncertainty and fear and gothic romance. Clio Barnard directed it, and working with her has been amazing.
DEADLINE: You know, it occurs to me that of all the main Marvel characters, Loki has been such a constant, yet so ethereal in so many ways too. Is it jarring for you to jump back into the role with all the uncertainty it brings?
HIDDLESTON: You know, I’ve always seen it as sort of an extraordinary and surprising constant in my life for a decade. But, I don’t take it for granted because I don’t often…you know, it may end. It has actually ended, and those endings have been conclusive. I really thought a couple of years ago, after I made Avengers: Infinity War, you know, we all know what happens in that scene, and I thought, that’s it.
I thought it’s over, and I was really proud to have been part of it. I was grateful for my time, but I thought that, my work would go off in a different direction. So, the idea that I got to come back and have another go was a complete delight, it truly was.