‘Thor: The Dark World’: Tom Hiddleston disguised in Asgard, on stage

Nov. 11, 2013 | 6:26 p.m.

Loki (Tom Hiddleston) and Thor (Chris Hemsworth) in a scene from "Thor: The Dark World." (Marvel)

Loki (Tom Hiddleston), Sif (Jaimie Alexander), Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) and Thor (Chris Hemsworth) in a scene from "Thor: The Dark World." (Marvel)

Dr. Erik Selvig (Stellan Skarsgard), Ian Boothby (Jonathan Howard), and Darcy Lewis (Kat Dennings) in a scene from "Thor: The Dark World." (Jay Maidment / Marvel)

Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and Odin (Sir Anthony Hopkins) in a scene from "Thor: The Dark World." (Jay Maidment / Marvel)

Malekith (Christopher Eccleston) in a scene from "Thor: The Dark World." (Jay Maidment / Marvel)

Sif (Jaimie Alexander) and Thor (Chris Hemsworth) in a scene from "Thor: The Dark World." (Jay Maidment / Marvel)

Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and Heimdall (Idris Elba) in a scene from "Thor: The Dark World." (Jay Maidment / Marvel)

Malekith (Christopher Eccleston) in a scene from "Thor: The Dark World." (Jay Maidment / Marvel)

Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and Odin (Sir Anthony Hopkins) in a scene from "Thor: The Dark World." (Jay Maidment / Marvel)

A Dark Elf, left, and Malekith (Christopher Eccleston) in a scene from "Thor: The Dark World." (Jay Maidment / Marvel)

Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) and Frigga (Rene Russo) in a scene from "Thor: The Dark World." (Jay Maidment / Marvel)

Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) and Thor (Chris Hemsworth) in a scene from "Thor: The Dark World." (Jay Maidment / Marvel)

Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) and Thor (Chris Hemsworth) in a scene from "Thor: The Dark World." (Jay Maidment / Marvel)

Loki (Tom Hiddleston) and Thor (Chris Hemsworth) in a scene from "Thor: The Dark World." (Marvel)

Darcy Lewis (Kat Dennings) and Ian the intern (Jonathan Howard) in a scene from "Thor: The Dark World." (Marvel)

Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and Heimdall (Idris Elba) in a scene from "Thor: The Dark World." (Marvel)

Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) and Thor (Chris Hemsworth) in a scene from "Thor: The Dark World." (Marvel)

Kurse (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje) and Malekith (Christopher Eccleston) in a scene from "Thor: The Dark World." (Marvel)

Darcy Lewis (Kat Dennings) and Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) in a scene from "Thor: The Dark World." (Marvel)

Malekith (Christopher Eccleston) and Algrim (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje) in a scene from "Thor: The Dark World." (Marvel)

Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and Odin (Sir Anthony Hopkins) in a scene from "Thor: The Dark World." (Jay Maidment / Marvel)

Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) in a scene from "Thor: The Dark World." (Jay Maidment / Marvel)

Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) and Thor (Chris Hemsworth) in a scene from "Thor: The Dark World." (Jay Maidment / Marvel)

Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Loki (Tom Hiddleston) and Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) in a scene from "Thor: The Dark World." (Marvel)

Chris Hemsworth and director Alan Taylor on the set of "Thor: The Dark World." (Jay Maidment / Marvel)

Jaimie Alexander and director Alan Taylor on the set of "Thor: The Dark World." (Jay Maidment / Marvel)

Chris Hemsworth and director Alan Taylor on the set of "Thor: The Dark World." (Jay Maidment / Marvel)

Christopher Eccleston and Chris Hemsworth on the set of "Thor: The Dark World." (Jay Maidment / Marvel)

Christopher Eccleston and director Alan Taylor on the set of "Thor: The Dark World." (Jay Maidment / Marvel)

Tom Hiddleston had just spent six weeks living inside the melancholy mind-set of a vampire for a new Jim Jarmusch film when he turned up for the first day of shooting on “Thor: The Dark World.”

Ready to reprise his role as the treacherous god Loki for the Marvel superhero sequel, which thundered to an $86.1-million opening this weekend, Hiddleston stood inside a prison cell set wearing the character’s green and gold costume and his trademark ebony locks.

From behind a plexiglass wall, he glowered and dissembled for director Alan Taylor, but something was amiss.

Tom Hiddleston attends the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival on Sept. 6. (Larry Busacca / Getty Images)

Tom Hiddleston attends the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival on Sept. 6. (Larry Busacca / Getty Images)

“I did the first take, and Alan was like, ‘Really nice. Wow … I think you can smile if you want to,’” Hiddleston recalled during a recent interview. “I was like, ‘Oh yes! Loki is a showman and he smiles all the time because he’s charming and playful.’”

As it happens, so is Hiddleston. The dashing, dapper Brit with the close-cropped curly chestnut hair might be best known to American moviegoers as the arrogant, scheming Norse god turned comic book villain, but on a sunny morning, seated poolside at a posh Santa Monica hotel in a cobalt blue dress shirt and trousers, the 32-year-old seems more like the English intellectual answer to Justin Timberlake than some power-mad immortal.

“I feel like I’m just at the beginning of my life as an actor,” Hiddleston said. “I’ve become very well-known as someone I don’t look like.”

A graduate of both Cambridge and the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, Hiddleston belongs to an elite class of highly educated thespians who’ve garnered stateside acclaim as the heavies in commercial, genre-minded fare — his contemporaries include Tom Hardy (“The Dark Knight Rises”) and Benedict Cumberbatch (“Star Trek Into Darkness”).

He’s also an unfailingly good sport, as evidenced by a series of online videos recorded during his latest “Thor” publicity tour. He’s cheerfully impersonated actor friends including Owen Wilson and “Captain America” star Chris Evans, he’s sung Michael Jackson songs and danced on stage for 7,000 fans in Korea.

Tom Hiddleston promotes "Thor: The Dark World" in Seoul, South Korea on Oct. 14, 2013. (Chung Sung-Jun / Getty Images)

Tom Hiddleston promotes “Thor: The Dark World” in Seoul, South Korea, on Oct. 14. (Chung Sung-Jun / Getty Images)

For a sleepover-themed segment for MTV, Hiddleston jumped on a bed and played truth or dare in his pajamas.

“I say ‘yes’ a lot,” the actor said. “It looks like I’ve been a circus bear, but it’s more fun to do that sort of thing than to endlessly recycle answers.”

Hiddleston came to the Marvel cinematic universe not through a lifelong love of comic books, but his experience on the London stage. He caught the eye of Kenneth Branagh when he was appearing as Cassio in director Michael Grandage’s 2007 Donmar Warehouse production of “Othello,” starring “12 Years a Slave” actor Chiwetel Ejiofor.

Subsequently, he and Branagh worked together on the BBC series “Wallander,” and they both also performed in Grandage’s 2008 staging of Chekhov’s “Ivanov” at the Wyndham’s Theatre in the West End.

Tom Hiddleston as F. Scott Fitzgerald in "Midnight in Paris," left, as Freddie Page opposite Rachel Weisz's Hester Collyer in "The Deep Blue Sea" and as Captain Nichols in "War Horse." (Sony Pictures Classics; Music Box Films; DreamWorks)

Tom Hiddleston as F. Scott Fitzgerald in “Midnight in Paris,” left, as Freddie Page opposite Rachel Weisz’s Hester Collyer in “The Deep Blue Sea” and as Captain Nichols in “War Horse.” (Sony Pictures Classics; Music Box Films; DreamWorks)

When Branagh was tapped to direct 2011’s “Thor,” Hiddleston auditioned for the lead and was given several weeks to add 20 pounds of muscle to his 6-foot, 2-inch frame. Though the strapping Australian Chris Hemsworth landed the title role, Hiddleston was offered the chance to play Loki, the sullen son of Asgard who is driven by his desire for chaos, his obsessive hunger for power, his seething jealousy of his brother Thor.

It proved to be an excellent match. The role helped catapult Hiddleston to wider acclaim and turns in such films as “War Horse” and “The Deep Blue Sea.” In Woody Allen’s romantic fable “Midnight in Paris,” Hiddleston played Jazz Age luminary F. Scott Fitzgerald.

The beguiling rogue Loki, however, remains Hiddleston’s defining cinematic creation. The character was the antagonist in writer-director Joss Whedon’s super-sized hit “The Avengers,” which now ranks as the third-highest-grossing film of all time. In “Thor: The Dark World,” Loki turns out to be the only ally who can aid the brawny god of thunder in his quest to save the universe from a dangerous plot hatched by the Dark Elf Malekith (Christopher Eccleston).

Loki (Tom Hiddleston) in a scene from "Thor: The Dark World." (Marvel)

Loki (Tom Hiddleston) in a scene from “Thor: The Dark World.” (Marvel)

While many critics groused that the movie’s worlds-jumping, interstellar story line was too convoluted, they were nearly unanimous in their praise for Hiddleston. In his review for Time, Richard Corliss wrote, “Tom Hiddleston incarnates [Loki] as a sinister sylph draped in black leather and chain mail, a Hamlet among hunks. Their brawn often seems puny in comparison with his scheming brain.”

Hiddleston said he prefers to portray conflicted men.

Tom Hiddleston as Prince Hal in "Hollow Crown - Henry IV, Part I." (PBS)

Tom Hiddleston as Prince Hal in “The Hollow Crown – Henry IV, Part I.” (PBS)

“I think it’s truth,” he said. “I think most people have very complicated, tumultuous inner lives. That’s what fascinates me — everyone has so many contradictory layers. We are not consistent and we’re always striving to be something and running away from something else, unless you’re totally Zen and everything’s sorted out and you’re Jeff Bridges.”

For the time being, Hiddleston is leaving behind comic book adventure in favor of other pursuits. He’s currently in rehearsals for “Coriolanus,” Shakespeare’s tragedy set in ancient Rome. Set to open Dec. 6 at the Donmar Warehouse for a two-month engagement, the production comes on the heels of the actor’s work in “The Hollow Crown,” the BBC series focusing on four of the Bard’s history plays.

“Shakespeare is like home turf,” Hiddleston said. “It keeps me sharp. It makes me happy above all else.”

Tilda Swinton as Eve and Tom Hiddleston as Adam in "Only Lovers Left Alive." (Gordon A. Timpen / Sony Pictures Classics)

Tilda Swinton as Eve and Tom Hiddleston as Adam
in “Only Lovers Left Alive.” (Gordon A. Timpen / Sony Pictures Classics)

He also is set to explore his melancholy side in two upcoming films. In Jarmusch’s elegant chamber piece “Only Lovers Left Alive,” due out in the spring, Hiddleston plays a moody vampire musician with a mane of unkempt black hair opposite Tilda Swinton’s elegant blond Eve. He traveled to Detroit; Cologne, Germany; and Tangier, Morocco, to shoot the indie production, which wrapped the night before he started work on “Thor: The Dark World.”

He’s also set for Guillermo del Toro’s upcoming gothic horror romance “Crimson Peak” in a role that originally had gone to Cumberbatch, who dropped out of the project in September. The period piece begins shooting in Toronto early next year.

“Tom has a timeless leading man quality, he seems both vulnerable and magnetic,” Del Toro wrote in an email. “He is uncommonly intelligent and fluent when discussing all literary implications or mythological roots of a character — a dream of a collaborator.”

Loki, too, continues to hover on the horizon. The character will not appear in the upcoming “Avengers” sequel, but he’s quite likely to turn up again in some corner of the universe, most probably in a future “Thor” movie — some fans even have begun to lobby Marvel for a Loki spinoff film.

Tom Hiddleston shows off a gift from a fan during a promotional event for "Thor: The Dark World" in Seoul, South Korea, on Oct. 14, 2013. (Ahn Young-joon / Associated Press)

Tom Hiddleston shows off a gift from a fan during a promotional event for “Thor: The Dark World” in Seoul, South Korea, on Oct. 14. (Ahn Young-joon / Associated Press)

When it comes to performance, Hiddleston is happy to assume other guises, to disappear into a role.

“I feel as though ultimately it’s my work that people know,” he said. “The other day I was on an airplane and halfway through the flight, the air hostess said, ‘I’m trying to work out what movie you were in. I just worked it out. It’s Loki. What else have you been in?’ I said, ‘Well, I was in “War Horse” and “Midnight in Paris.”’ She was like, ‘I loved those movies. Who’d you play?’

“What I love is that she remembered the characters, she didn’t particularly remember me,” Hiddleston said. “That means I’ve done my job.”

– Gina McIntyre | @LATHeroComplex

RECENT AND RELATED

A movie poster for "Thor: The Dark World." (Marvel)Hemsworth, Hiddleston shine at ‘Thor 2′ premiere

Tom Hiddleston hopes for redemption in Loki

‘Thor 2′ Christopher Eccleston talks Malekith

Marvel’s Kevin Feige talks ‘Thor 3′

‘Dark World’: Thor, Malekith, Sif in new clips

‘Dark World’ trailer: Thor meets ‘Game of Thrones’

D23 footage takes Natalie Portman to Asgard

‘Captain America’ sequel to get 2014 release

Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje talks ‘Thor’ sequel

Chris Hemsworth talks vulnerability

‘Thor 2’: Christopher Eccleston is villain Malekith

Close
E-mail It
Powered by ShareThis