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The Marvel Comics god of thunder’s name is in the movie title, but Thor: The Dark World might as well have had Loki in there somewhere for kids at a recent New York City charity screening on Halloween.

The guy playing the supervillain god of mischief, British actor Tom Hiddleston, surprised the 300 children with his presence, making their night more special than overflowing bags full of fun-size Snickers would have.

Loki’s all about the tricks but it’s a treat for Hiddleston when he has interactions with his smaller fans, like the fistbump the actor shared with one little boy brandishing a toy Thor hammer.

“Sometimes it’s easy to forget that’s who we’re doing it for,” Hiddleston says. “It really brought home to me what a privilege it is to occupy a place in this particular universe. When you hear the pleasure and delight of children, it makes it all worth it.”

In theaters now, The Dark World features Hiddleston scheming, brooding, emoting and even teaming with his adopted brother Thor (Chris Hemsworth), but he had already made his mark in the Marvel Cinematic Universe with a pair of bad-guy turns in 2011’s Thor and last year’s The Avengers.

From Beijing to Sydney, Seoul to Paris and Berlin to the Big Apple, Hiddleston always finds fans, but the actor, who will be on stage beginning in December for a run of Shakespeare’s Coriolanus in London’s West End, remains humble.

“If you and I met up for a cup of coffee,” he says, “and you said to me, ‘By the way, I hear you have an enthusiastic audience and career,’ I would have accepted the compliment kindly but it would have been an abstract notion in my mind.”

Hiddleston talks with USA TODAY about some of his Loki influences, one of his favorite scenes in The Dark World and his theater beginnings.

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Q. The Thor sequel shows a different side of Loki than we’ve seen in your other two Marvel films. Was that one of your favorite parts about this one?
A.
I suppose so. I have poured so much into his creation and his genesis and the architecture of the character. There was so much I thought about before I first played him.

There are necessary constraints of each narrative, of Kenneth Branagh’s Thor and Joss Whedon’s The Avengers. Those two films are not about Loki’s unprocessed pain or his jealousy or the specifics of his relationship with Thor. We had to do other things in those films — in Kenneth Branagh’s film, the character of Thor had to be introduced with all the specifics of his relationship with his father (Odin, played by Anthony Hopkins), with his responsibility and his superpower.

Kenneth Branagh and Joss Whedon helped me create a nuanced character and there are hints of his depth and the psychological unpredictability of his nature.

One scene with Anthony Hopkins in the Branagh film, which I lean on as a cornerstone, is when he finds out he’s adopted. And Joss Whedon wrote a scene between myself and Chris Hemsworth on a mountaintop right before Robert Downey Jr. flies in and calls us “Shakespeare in the park.” Nevertheless, the scene is quite intimate and is a version of this fractious relationship between these two ancient brothers.

In The Dark World is where we really get into the nitty-gritty at home — it’s the meat and potatoes, the muscularity of their relationship and particular chemistry that can yield enormous drama, battles of wits and wills and also, thrillingly, some humor.

Q. There is one scene in the new film where Loki’s imprisoned where he lets down the magical façade of his prison cell. It’s a symbolic breakdown following a tragedy where you see the man and not the magic.
A.
I’m so proud of that scene. I had lots of ideas about it and they showed me an early draft and asked for my input. I kept saying, “We have to take Loki to rock bottom. We have to break him.” And so in that moment, there’s a literal and physical manifestation of his mask of control.

Loki presents an illusion of sleek elegance and control to everyone, but actually inside is this bleeding broken heart. That truth is given literal shape. He presents an illusion to Thor and Thor calls him on it, and then suddenly the illusion dissipates and dissolves away and you see the truth of Loki’s soul in his body and his face.

To play a character as complex and unpredictable as that is a gift as an actor. It’s so juicy because you’re playing internal truths and external truths. That’s the fun part of acting — it’s a version of some kind of psychology in a way. You’re studying how people interact, how they hide, how they present, and Loki is a brilliant case study.

Q. And he’s really become not only a comic-book character in a superhero movie but really a cinematic icon for this generation.
A. I’ve loved playing him, I really have. I think it has something to do with the size of the films. These characters are gods. We don’t take that too seriously but they are enormous characters and they represent various different shades of human nature. Thor is the god of thunder, therefore it’s power, it’s strength, it’s nobility, and Loki is the god of mischief so of course he’s a trickster, it’s chaos, it’s danger, it’s provocation.

In playing big characters, it’s such an opportunity to do something truly cinematic and we’ve tried.

Q. Through three movies and one infamous Comic-Con appearance, have you found a surprising influence that’s helped you with the character?
A.
Whenever I play a character, it’s like I put on a pair of glasses with a specific filter and I suddenly see the whole world through that character’s filter. You draw inspiration from everywhere.

I’ve drawn inspiration from music strangely enough. There’s one fantastic piece of music called Mind Heist by Zack Hepsey, and it’s been made famous because Christopher Nolan cut the Inception trailer to this particular track. To me, it sounds like the inner workings of Loki’s brain so I used to listen to that.

I looked to Shakespeare and his great villains because that’s the stuff I did when training as a theater actor. Loki is an illegitimate son who is jealous of his brother — Edmund in King Lear is an illegitmate son who is jealous of his brother. Loki is obsessed with being king — Macbeth is obsessed with being king. Loki is a master manipulator, puppet master and strategist who will spin every situation for his own needs. Iago in Othello is a master manipulator, puppet master and strategist who will spin every situation for his own needs. Shakespeare wrote such deep complex villains and I’ve borrowed from his themes just for myself to enrich Loki’s psychology.

There are all kinds of fun things. Ken Branagh and I used to talk about early Peter O’Toole performances like The Lion in Winter and of course Lawrence of Arabia. In his particular performance, there was a kind of wildness and an inner fire that is about to spill over and do something either very great or very terrible.

If you go back and watch The Lion In Winter, it’s about a royal family falling apart. I told Joss Whedon that story, and he ran with it. He said Loki reminded him of James Mason. When James Mason first came to Hollywood, he was this sleek, elegant, charming, wry British bad guy. We both had a big James Mason fan exchange.

I should say I’ve been inspired by the comic books, too — Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Walt Simonson, J. Michael Straczynski, Robert Rodi, Kieron Gillen and all these amazing writers and artist of Loki over the years who keep giving him new levels of depth and dimension.

That’s a long way around of saying I’m inspired by everything. And then of course there’s an unpredictable mysterious element to making characters where once you have the costume on and you look in the mirror and you feel like a different person, it happens in a magical mystical way. I can’t explain it. I don’t want to sound too pretentious, but there he is, you know?

Q. All that stuff seems to help you take Loki from being a comic-book character clad in a strange helmet with horns to someone you should probably worry about destroying New York.
A.
(Laughs) That’s the thing, you have to wear the helmet. I pay due diligence to the character. But the whole thing has to be about more than just helmet-wearing. In the same way, Robert Downey Jr. doesn’t just wear the Iron Man suit. He is Tony Stark.

And I really would say the same for Chris Hemsworth. He’s not just really good at slinging that hammer. He is Thor. He has done so much work on the external and internal nature of his character, the weight of kingship, the spiritually draining nature of responsibility, his inner nobility, the conflict and sensitivity in his relationship with his father.

That’s part of the thrill is filling up these big silhouettes with real human emotion.

Q. I heard you got into acting when your parents were getting a divorce?
A.
As a kid, I was always trying to make people laugh. I was always behaving like a shameless exhibitionist. It was only around that time when I began to do more serious things. I don’t know if that’s just coincidental — I was 13 years old. For every 13-year-old boy, your mind turns to different stuff. You become more interested and more curious in other things. So acting at that age became a slightly more serious enterprise. I was interested in doing serious plays as opposed to just making people laugh.

By the way, I sat through screenings of The Dark World and I feel so proud when the whole movie theater just breaks into spontaneous laughter and applause. In a way, it’s more thrilling to make people laugh than it is to make people cry.

All I want to do is make a connection with an audience, and that comes from being a fan and being in the audience myself at the theater, at the movies. Movies can really touch people and when you see a good one or you see a great performance, it changes you. You feel like something’s been expressed that you understand by somebody else you’ve never met but they understand the same thing. That’s the part of doing this job that I love. It’s the reason I signed up.

Q. The family stuff Loki goes through, do you identify with any of that yourself?
A.
No, all of that stuff is really Loki’s and not mine. I have an amazing relationship with my folks, and I have two sisters who are my best friends in the world.

But like everybody, I understand loneliness and at some point in our lives, we’ve all felt alone, whether we are or not. Often people can feel alone and actually there are people around but they can’t see it. In order to play that stuff truthfully, I just tap into that sense of feeling on your own.

Loki’s not evolved enough to simply express his vulnerability. Loki’s vulnerability makes him angry and he doesn’t want to show weakness. He’s not going to make friends because he refuses to be open to them in a way.

Q. He’d probably rather scheme and get into mischief than deal with his own problems.
A.
Yeah. In a way that’s why I think villains are always the most fascinating characters. They are the most broken or more damaged or least self-aware.

I’ve been talking to Anthony Hopkins about this and he was talking about Hannibal Lecter. Getting inside the minds of monsters is an interesting challenge.
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There’s a lot of bastards out there.

Villains, tyrants, and troublemakers have become so critical to big-budget films that they’re beginning to upstage the heroes — in some cases seizing the title roles, as in next year’s Sleeping Beauty remake Maleficent, and the upcoming Marvel films Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Avengers: Age of Ultron, among others.

Thor: The Dark World, which opens today, could easily be subtitled Loki Strikes Back.

In his third round as the God of Mischief, Tom Hiddleston not only steals Thor sequel, but practically sets it on fire and collects all the insurance money. Hiddleston spoke with EW about the state of cinematic villainy — why we love bad guys, why these villains are bigger than ever, and whether he believes himself to be evil at heart…

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Simple question: why do we love characters we hate?
TOM HIDDLESTON Well, that is the eternal question. There is this old phrase that “the devil plays all the best tunes.” There is a kind of freedom to being bad, an embracing of one’s most rebellious instincts. The idea that essentially order and chaos exist inside every human being and mostly – rightly — we behave ourselves. When you play a bad guy, you sort of cut loose from that sense of propriety.

Is it more interesting to play a noble character or a cruel one?
I think most actors see acting as a kind of 3-D psychology,  the study of people, the study of human nature. We find motivations and people’s emotional and psychological makeup to be fascinating, I know I do. Villains are challenging because they provide such fascinating case studies. You’re presented with a villain and the first question is – “What do they want? Why are they villainous?” So in Loki’s case, that answer is complex. He has a broken heart. He is grief stricken, bitter, lonely, sad, angry, ambitious, jealous and proud — and yet, he has a charm and a playfulness and a mischief. It’s a combination of factors I think. It’s that surface charm, that surface playfulness I think is appealing.

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The villains you have cited as influences – Alan Rickman’s Hans Gruber in Die Hard, Jack Nicholson’s Joker in 1989’s Batman, James Mason’s spy Phillip Vandamm in North By Northwest – are all extremely intelligent and calculating. They may be monsters, but they’re not out of control.
The great thing is that they are in total control over the provocation of chaos. There’s a delight in that. And it’s worth mentioning that Thor has always been the God of Thunder and Loki has been the God of Mischief and in a way in this film, this is my most wholehearted acceptance of mischief as a shape. He is this great chess master, he has this straight poker face, but occasionally the audience is allowed to see a flicker of truth, emotional truth. I hope that’s an access point and again I hope it just deepens his sense of humanity.

“Mischief” makes him sound tame.
I remember I looked up mischief in the dictionary and the first entry is “an inclination to playfulness, a desire to tease.” And then actually further down the line, like entry No. 5 is “destruction and damage.” So you have this one word “mischief” which encompasses all these things and that’s the role I’m playing. So it’s my job to turn up on set and have a great time and I hope that’s something that’s appealing, you know Loki’s having a good time and so am I.

Which is a more realistic reflection of ourselves – the hero or the villain?
These big characters, these gods and monsters, the reason we invented them, the reason society has invented myth, the reason why Stan Lee and Jack Kirby started to make up superheroes is born out of some collective desire to explore our own humanity on a big scale. So the heroes are emblems of our strength. They do the right thing, they’re noble, they’re generous, they’re selfless and they save the world. And the bad guys are representation of our flaws, our failings, our vulnerabilities, our weakness.

There have been villains for as long as there have been stories, but action movies — and the Marvel films in particular — are focusing a lot on villains. Why do you think audiences are so taken with the power of bad guys right now?
In the cinematic landscape, I do think Heath Ledger’s performance [as The Joker in The Dark Knight] changed the game. He certainly changed it for me. I’ve never seen such an electrifying performance before or since. There was something incredibly compelling about that film because of his performance in it. The Joker is an anarchist and you don’t get a sense of motivation, you don’t even get a sense of a kind of a vulnerable person underneath that mask, it’s just a maniac for chaos. Loki is much more controlled and much more vulnerable and he’s much more of an intellect and this idea of the shapeshifter.

Your Thor co-star, Anthony Hopkins also won an Oscar for playing a monster who is simultaneously attractive and repellent. Did you ever talk about this phenomenon with him?
I had a fascinating conversation with Anthony Hopkins about this. He’s been doing this job for 50 years and has enjoyed every second of it. He’s had a high old time. He said he’s ‘played heroes and villains and kings and butlers and warriors. And when people ask me to talk about something, they want to talk about one man’ — which is Hannibal Lecter.

The culture is facing hard times. Money is tight in a stagnant economy, unemployment is high — so is frustration. When people feel like the world is against them do we root more for those characters who want to destroy it?
It’s attached to this idea living on the edge, not playing by the rules. I think there’s always been something that’s sort of attractive about that. We all want our lives to be happy, I know I do. Life is good when it’s full of laughter and friendship and companionship and love and family all of those things. But there is something that happens when we go to a cinema on a Friday night and the lights go down, there is an absolute collective fascination with darkness, and that’s something that’s very cinematic. Some cathartic exploration of the darker aspects of our nature. We want to watch it on screen and we don’t want it in our lives.

Loki is a sexy villain, but that’s not part of his ambition, is it? He doesn’t seem to be interested in love or sex but he has this sexuality about him, maybe it’s his lust for power. What do you think of Loki as a sexy beast? 
[Laughs] That’s the first time anyone has ever used that phrase about Loki. It’s fascinating isn’t it? I don’t know because it’s not a part of the conscious construction. I take relish in playing him. I think there’s a physical self-possession about him, a self-acceptance. Of course I’ve been very exacting about his physicality. You know, I was born with very blonde, curly hair, and a mixture of Scottish and English genes, and my complexion is very ruddy and healthy. In making him with this raven black hair and blanching my face of all color, it changes my features. Suddenly my blue eyes look a lot bluer, which lends a severity to my face. And even my own smile has a distorted menace to it. Whatever comes through me naturally is distorted. It’s almost like a filter on a light.

So you are not an agent of chaos like your alter ego?
Alter ego is the right way of putting it! In so many ways, he is the photo negative of who I am. It’s very strange and unexpected to make such a connection with an audience as a character who is a reverse of myself.

What about as a boy – were you a good kid or a troublemaker?
I’ve got a sprinkling of mischief in my childhood, but I was at school with some people who were really, really like — they got into some misdemeanors. There were tricks and pranks and capery. And sure enough, all the prettiest girls in my class were drawn to those guys who seemed to lean into danger.

What would you say separates a villain like Loki from a villain like Malekith, the other antagonist of Thor: The Dark World?
Vulnerability, I think. [Loki] is insecure and in all three films he’s played a brilliant game and has ultimately been undone by his insecurities. I love that line that Clark Gregg as Agent Coulson has in The Avengers: “You’re gonna lose” and Loki says “Why? Your floating fortress falls from the sky. You’re heroes are scattered. Where is my disadvantage?” and Coulson’s response is, “You lack conviction.” [Laughs] Which I love.

Loki is kind of a bottomless pit of need. He doesn’t seem like the kind of individual who could ever be happy.
There’s another line in The Dark World, Thor and Loki are in an isolated space with all the time in the world and they get to the bottom of it. They talk about power and have this big argument and Thor says to Loki “Even if you win, would that satisfy you?” and Loki’s response is, “Satisfaction is not in my nature.” [Laughs] There’s an amazing comic [Loki, first published in 2004] that explores what happens when Loki ends up as king of Asgard, achieved all he’s ever wanted, and his life is empty and devoid of color and all life because there is nothing to fight for anymore.

I loved your Comic-Con presentation [see video above], where you came out in costume and in character, hurling insults and commands at the crowd. They loved it, too. I know you’ve gotten a lot of praise for that, but how did it feel playing him live?
In the words of Tony Stark in The Avengers, “Loki is a full-tilt diva.” So that aspect of him was just a fun, fun thing to do. That was one of those moments that I thought it might be enjoyable and entertaining. I didn’t know it was going to be that. I didn’t know that was going to happen. It was amazing.

It must feel good to call on that when you need it.
Yeah, [laughs] just wheel him out whenever.
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Chris Hemsworth & Tom Hiddleston chat about Thor & Loki bromances, brotherly love, why Loki is more popular than Thor, how they always act in opposition to each other, why Loki is such as amazing character to play & whether Loki is really evil.



Hiddleston and MTV News’ Josh Horowitz cuddle up and throw a slumber party – but a pillow fight quickly devolves into a bar fight in this week’s “After Hours.”

The British actor, who again plays Loki in the sequel ‘The Dark World,’ has found fans around the world — and at home.


The past few weeks, Tom Hiddleston has gone from Times Square in Seoul to Times Square in New York City, with people showering the star of Thor: The Dark World with gifts, chocolates, artwork and, yes, requests for dance moves.

He has a knack for playing a popular god of mischief on the big screen, but he’s not too bad at doing the Running Man dance, either.

“I never expected that Loki would be the opportunity I got to show off whatever small talents I have at organized flailing, but it’s been that moment,” Hiddleston, 32, says with a laugh. “Loki’s dancing his way around the world.”

After giving Chris Hemsworth’s hammer-wielding title hero trouble in two Thor movies — including the Dark World sequel, out Friday — and chewing up scenery while invading Manhattan in last year’s The Avengers, Hiddleston has cemented his place as a rising star in Hollywood.

He continues his hot streak with appearances in Jim Jarmusch’s 2014 vampire romance Only Lovers Left Alive; Guillermo del Toro’s creepy Crimson Peak for 2015; and next year’s Muppets Most Wanted, in which he plays the Great Escapo.

“I worked with the man himself, Kermit the Frog. I’ve peaked — it’s downhill from here,” Hiddleston says.
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The London-born, Shakespeare-trained actor originally auditioned to play the beefy Thor for the first movie, but instead, he impressed the Marvel Studios brain trust enough for them to cast him as Loki.

Part of his success is feeling very at home with a strong sense of theatricality, says The Dark World director Alan Taylor. “He can seem vulnerable and make you reach out to him, and then he can seem cold as ice.”

For the record, Hiddleston’s best role — at least according to his mother — was the goodhearted British cavalry officer Capt. Nicholls in 2011’s War Horse. He’s pretty much the opposite of Loki, the actor says, and when Hiddleston’s mom saw the movie with him, “she looked across and said, ‘That’s my boy.’ ”

His family really likes Loki, too, Hiddleston says, and they see in the trickster character his inherent playfulness.

“When Loki’s having a good time, my sisters recognize me being mischievous when I was a kid, and they find that very amusing,” he says. At the London premiere of The Dark World, “Mom rolled her eyes at my exhibitionism mostly, which I find really endearing.”

They’ve also enjoyed watching him gallivant around the globe as a showman with gusto and live large by showcasing some modern soft shoe at a crowded mall before 7,000 screaming South Koreans.

“They know that I’m like this,” Hiddleston says of his loved ones. “It was perhaps only a matter of time before I cracked open the box of dance moves from the ’90s disco attic.”
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Over 190 HQs from “Thor: The Dark World” Los Angeles Premiere have been added to the gallery, thanks to our amazing Nicole helping out.


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Public Appearances > 2013 > November 04 | “Thor: The Dark World” Los Angeles Premiere



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