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Tom Hiddleston and Owen Wilson on going to ‘Loki school,’ and why fans love the God of Mischief

The actors talk about playing Loki and Mobius on the new show, exploring different realms to their characters, and the MCU’s passionate fan base

Tom Hiddleston, who won our hearts as a charming, manipulative Loki in six MCU films, is back with his own show. Addressing the media in a virtual press conference, the 40-year-old actor said, he was delighted and surprised when he got a call about the show. “I was so excited by the idea. I had to also scratch my head because that scene in Avengers: Infinity War had felt so final, so conclusive, as the end of Loki’s story. I knew that Avengers: Endgame was around the corner where Loki picks up the Tesseract and disappears in a puff of smoke. Where, when and how does he go?”

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Hiddleston says Marvel boss, Kevin Feige, and executive producers of Loki, Louis D’Esposito, and Victoria Alonso, assured him that that would be the starting point of the series.

Owen Wilson is the latest entry into MCU, playing Mobius M. Mobius (what does the M stand for? hopefully not another Mobius) an official with the Time Variance Authority (TVA) and Loki’s handler. Wilson was surprised by the secrecy surrounding all things MCU, “I didn’t quite understand until I saw how the fan base is revved up and passionate. Marvel is just so committed to trying to surprise people. You definitely are walking on eggshells.”

‘Loki’ review: Time-travel shenanigans with Hiddleston and his hijinks

In the show, Loki is stripped of everything that is familiar to him, Hiddleston says. “Thor is not close by. Asgard is some distance away. The Avengers are not in sight. He is stripped of his status and his power. 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? Those questions became fascinating to ask. What makes Loki, Loki? Is there something authentic at his centre? Is he capable of growth or change? Do his experiences within the TVA give him any insight into who he might be, this mercurial shapeshifter who never presents the same exterior twice?”

A still from ‘Loki’ 

Wilson says the shift into the superhero genre after years of making comedy and drama, didn’t take much convincing. “Kate (Herron, director) walked me through the whole idea for the show and the dynamic between Mobius and Loki. It was an engaging phone call and I signed on right then.”

One of the highlights of the six-episode series is the bonding and banter between Mobius and Loki. “We have talked about it, before we started filming,” Wilson says. “Tom very generously and patiently took me through the whole MCU mythology and Loki. We called them the Loki lectures. He let me ask questions. That was important and helpful to our dynamic, once we started filming. Some of our conversations when we were going over that stuff, would work its way in. Going to ‘Loki school’ before we began was helpful.”

“It was interesting trying to compress the experience of my time in the MCU and six movies,” Hiddleston chips in. “Mobius is an expert in Loki. He knows more about Loki than Loki himself. I was trying to help Owen with some of my memories and experiences. Owen asked such insightful, intelligent questions that made me rethink various, aspects of the character. Owen said, ‘This kind of feels a bit like a play.’ There was a germ of an idea that settled in his mind that a theatrical experience might be around the corner.”

“It was more than a germ of an idea!” Wilson says with a laugh. “It was when you gave me six or seven plays to read. It was a little like a chess match between Mobius and Loki, with Mobius trying to stay on equal footing with the God of Mischief. Loki is clearly playing catch-up. I thought the scenes were fun to do.”

Behind the scenes, Hiddleston, who is also one of the executive producers, says, there were several discussions on camera, stunts, costume and production design. “The series was going to touch on so many different aspects of Loki’s history. There was curiosity about the decisions that had been made for what had come before. So from Kenneth Branagh and Alex Bryne and Bo Welch, to Charlie Word, Mia Rubio and Taika Waititi, and Joe and Anthony Russo, all these people contributed to Loki’s story. Things like why his costume changes, or their adaptations to his choreography, or changes in his dramatic arc.”

Hiddleston says that Loki’s fan base is gratifying, and that he loves playing the character 

There was curiosity about Loki’s horns, Hiddleston reveals. “There was a question of when does Loki wear the horns? Why does he wear them? Is it a ceremonial thing? Or are they somehow an extension of some emotional intention? Is he particularly malevolent at those times?”

Ultimately, Hiddleston says he loves playing Loki. “I feel so fortunate that I am still here, and that there are still new aspects to the character every time that I learn about. I think he is a character of huge range. It never feels like the same experience. I am surrounded by these amazing people. I think because of Loki’s complexity maybe that is every time he is in a new dynamic, new stuff emerges.”

Loki’s fan base is gratifying, according to Hiddleston. “The reason I am allowed to continue to play him, is because he clearly means so much to so many people and for so many different reasons. I see that as a big honour. Over time, I have been made aware of the different things that he represents. Some people enjoy his playfulness and his spontaneity and that inherent sense of mischief. Some people enjoy his quality as an antagonist. Some people probably can’t stand him. I know there are some who are drawn to his vulnerability underneath all those layers of charm and charisma.”

There is also something very relatable about being vulnerable, Hiddleston concludes: “I owe that to the writers. I owe that to everybody who has ever written this character in the comic books starting with Stan Lee and Jack Kirby and going all the way through J. Michael Straczynski and Daniel Kibblesmith. I owe it to Don Payne, who wrote the first Thor movie; he did an extraordinary job of making Loki a character with such pathos.”

Loki streams on Disney+ Hotstar Premium with weekly episodes

 

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