No one knows Loki like Tom Hiddleston does.
Beginning with 2011’s Thor, Hiddleston has played the God of Mischief in six Marvel Cinematic Universe movies over the course of a decade. The God of Thunder’s little (adopted) brother's reign ended in Avengers: Infinity War where he got his light snuffed out by Thanos in Avengers: Infinity War. And that was it: The end of the era.
Or so he thought.
Then Avengers: Endgame happened where Loki (from the 2012 timeline) got embroiled in Tony Stark & Co’s botched time heist and escaped with the Tesseract and vanished in a puff of smoke. Where did he go? When did he go?
And here’s where the Disney+ spin-off enters the picture. with Loki once again burdened with glorious purpose. The problem is, what’s that purpose?
“What I love about the series is Loki is stripped of everything that’s familiar to him,” Hiddleston tells journos via Zoom from London. “Thor is not close by. Asgard seems some distance away. The Avengers, for the time, being aren’t in sight. He’s stripped of his status and his power.
“And, if you take all those things that Loki has used to identify himself over the last six movies, what remains of Loki? Who is he within or outside all of those things? And I think those questions became, for all of us, really fascinating to ask: What makes Loki Loki?”
Key to managing Loki’s existential crisis in this six-part series is Owen Wilson’s Mobius M Mobius, an agent at the Time Variance Authority, who enlists the mercurial shapeshifter’s help — much against everyone’s advice — to capture a super-criminal wreaking havoc on the sacred timeline. Bad idea? Maybe.
The Zoolander star isn’t the only MCU newbie; he’s also joined by Black Mirror’s Gugu Mbatha-Raw as Ravonna Renslayer, a Hunter-turned-judge for the TVA, as well as Lovecraft Country’s Wunmi Mosaku as Hunter B-15, a high-ranking enforcer at the authority.
To bring the cast and crew up to speed on all things Loki, series director Kate Herron (Sex Education) had Hiddleston giving a series of informative and insightful talks — which she dubbed the ‘Loki Lectures’— to ensure that every department was on the same page and working from the same angle.
“I think they were curious about so many different decisions that had been made by everybody who had been the inspiration for what had come before [from Kenneth Branagh to Taika Waititi to Joe and Anthony Russo],” says Hiddleston.
“I hope that when the show unfolds, the specificity or sort of precision about these different aspects of Loki might become clearer.”
Elsewhere, Wilson, 52, found the crash course particularly useful in getting him into character. “I think that was really important and really helpful to our dynamic,” says the actor, joining in the press con from LA. “Because some of our conversations we were kind of going over would make its way [into the story].”
While Mbatha-Raw, 38, and Mosaku, 35, missed out on the talks, they didn’t have problems warming up to working with Hiddleston whom they knew from their days at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art.
“Even though the idea of joining the MCU was terrifying, [but] knowing that I was gonna walk into the room and have friends there felt really, really good,” Mosaku chimes in from Toronto.
Mbatha-Raw, Zooming in from Toronto, adds that these long-standing relationships and friendships are “a real comfort to have” when they were shooting the series in the pandemic. (The production was suspended in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 crisis and resumed later in September and wrapped in December.)
What was Hiddleston like in school, we ask Mbatha-Raw in a separate interview. “We weren’t in the same year,” she says. “I was in the year above him even though he was older than me. He’d been to [Cambridge University] and I went straight to school. I just remember him being centred, angelic guy with his curly blonde hair. Popular, very centred and a real gentleman. So there you go.”
Loki is now streaming on Disney+, with new episodes dropping every Wednesday.