Tom Hiddleston: 'Lots of Questions To Be Answered' In Loki Season 2

Anyone who is convinced they know who will be nominated in the Lead Actor in a Drama Series category should take a deep breath before publicly making their predictions. Not only is it arguably an insanely competitive category in an Emmys season that will produce a mountain of snubs across the board, but there are a number of highly watched, fantastic performances that could surprise. One of those is Tom Hiddleston in Marvel Studios’ “Loki.”

READ MORE: Multiverse maestro Michael Waldron on “Loki” and “Doctor Strange 2” [Interview]

Notably, the most critically acclaimed Marvel series to date on Disney Plus is also the streaming service’s most popular (at least according to third-party tracking services). In fact, it’s almost as popular as another Emmy favorite, “The Mandalorian.” Hiddleston, a previous Emmy acting nominee for “The Night Manager,” delivers the sort of range that the Television Academy’s acting branch likes to reward. It also doesn’t hurt that he has some fantastic co-stars to bounce off of such as Jonathan Majors (as the villainous He Who Remains), Gugu Mbatha-Raw (as a misled time agency officer), Sophia Di Martino (as Sylvia, a female Loki variant out for revenge) and Owen Wilson (as time agency detective Mobius).

Hiddleston’s chemistry with Wilson is certainly one of the aspects of the series that makes it stand out from the other Marvel Studios television productions to date. During an interview with The Playlist last week, Hiddleston recalled Wilson asking him about his decade-plus journey playing the Norse god.

He notes, “One afternoon he said, ‘I think I got it. I’m just so curious. I’ve seen the films and I understand the journey, but Tom, what do you love about playing Loki?’ And I said, ‘I suppose it’s the character’s got so much range.’ And I said, ‘It’s like a piano. He can play the light keys, but he can also play the heavy keys.’ And then in a scene once, in the Time Theater, when Loki is trying to intimidate and threaten Mobius, Owen, just threw back, ‘See I can play the heavy keys too.’ And it was great. And it’s in the show, you know? It’s those moments where that feels really exciting.”

Over the course of our chat, which has been edited and condensed for clarity, Hiddleston discusses what excited him about returning to portray Loki, playing with Majors in a key scene in the final episode, how “this” version of Loki is different from the one who was killed by Thanos and much, much more.


The Playlist: Kevin Feige comes to you and says “We’re doing a “Loki” TV series” or limited series or whatever it was. What was your initial reaction?

Tom Hiddleston: Surprise and delight. What was my initial reaction? I had so many questions because it wasn’t long after I had finished my filming on “Avengers: Infinity War” and Loki’s demise felt conclusive and real. And he also wanted to honor the emotional catharsis of his sacrifice that Loki stands before Thanos and tries to save his brother and he calls himself an Odinson. And so my question was how do we allow his redemption and the poignancy of that moment to stand and create something entirely new? It felt so important to me, to him, to everybody that we had to do something new here. And that to me was the most exciting aspect of the idea was to explore Loki in a different context. Challenge the character, confront the character with his self-destructive and damaging patterns of behavior, and put him in an environment where he wasn’t in control. That by essentially stripping away what was familiar: Thor, Odin, Asgard, all the things that you’d seen before, something new would be revealed. He’s even stripped of his clothes, his status, his magical power. What’s left of Loki? Once you take all the bits of Loki that seem familiar, what’s left of him, what remains? And I thought just as a human element to the story, that’s a great starting point.

In that context, how different is Loki at the end of the sixth episode of the first season than when he was the character that was killed by Thanos? How, how much of a different character did you feel you were playing or did you feel they were at the same sort of emotional developmental sort of space?

Hmm, that’s a great question. They both certainly developed. I think Loki in the series is in a more enlightened place perhaps, or certainly in a more self-aware position because the Loki in the series is aware that his death was meaningless and that he was indirectly connected to his mother’s death and his father’s death. And this idea of glorious purpose, which has been a recurring theme for Loki has been revealed to mean nothing. And so the Loki in a series of someone in who’s been challenged by Mobius, by Sylvie, by the TVA to change. To develop something else. Challenged also by the other variants. The Richard E. Grant variant and the alligator variant. Loki has been playing the same old tune for so long, and the Loki who finishes the series is someone who is radically changed. And I think one of the most exciting scenes to film for me and Sophia and Sophia Di Martino and Jonathan Majors that I know feel the same way was the final argument where Loki doesn’t necessarily agree with He Who Remains, but he does want time to think about what to do because killing He Who Remains seems incredibly dangerous.

And Loki can see that Sylvie is blinded by grievance and anger and a kind of drive that is damaging to herself. And it resonates with him because all through the MCU, Loki’s been driven by grievance and anger and glorious purpose, I suppose. And he’s trying to help Sylvie understand that it may not deliver her what she wants because he’s been there. And that’s why he says, “I’ve been where you are. I felt what you feel.” So, yes, I think he’s in a place of self-awareness, of acceptance. He’s trying to break the record. He’s trying to play another tune. It felt very original, very new, very fresh and I loved the journey.

I wanted to ask about that scene with He Who Remains in particular. When I spoke to Kate Herron, she talked about the fact that because of Jonathan’s busy schedule, you all first went over it on Zoom, and that you did a read through, but when you got to set, he was doing things that you guys weren’t necessarily prepared for. Like unexpectedly jumping on tables and chairs. Can you talk about, as an actor, what that was like in terms of exploring something on set? Sure, it’s a big-budget show, but there is a time limit. Are those the parts of the job that are the most fun?

By far the most fun, the most exciting, and the respect of other actors or the respect of actors for each other, I find incredibly moving. And when people come ready and prepared, that’s when you can dance. And Jonathan was so ready and it was the last week of filming. And so there was this extraordinary sense of finality and momentous. It sort of was a [great] week because Sophia and I had been on this journey together. It was the real journey of making the show. And it was the end of the shoot and it was the finale of the piece. And so she and I knew each other very well, knew each other’s rhythms. And Jonathan, his big speech was literally the last three days of filming. And then the argument and the fight between Loki and Sylvie. And so the magic is when the parameters of the game have been set and agreed on. And then inside those parameters, you can play. And that’s what was so thrilling about working with Sophia and Jonathan in that scene is we all knew the scene inside out, but we didn’t know how [everyone was] going to play the scene. And so it was just very exciting to be in a space where Jonathan and his performance and the two of us could feel very free because that’s where the magic is. The camera’s not interested in something you’ve thought of before, the camera’s interested in vitality and performances, which are alive and spontaneous and unpredictable.

You talk about having that freedom on set, doing things that might get caught by the camera or might not. When you watched the series back was there anything that you remember doing that you were pleasantly surprised made the cut?

Yeah, I mean there were so many. There was such an atmosphere of acceptance and permission on set and that all comes from the top as well. Because everybody came ready, everybody was so prepared and so committed and it gives you freedom because you find people are so on top of the material that it creates an atmosphere of genuinely thrilling, invention. And there was a day I remember it often happened with Owen Wilson where we would be doing a scene and he would do something unexpected. There was a scene where Mobius is very irritated by Loki who is kind of stalling the operation in episode two. And he’s playing a very interesting psychological game with Loki and trying to motivate him in some way to be a bit more responsible. And he referred to Loki as an ice runt or something. And I noticed that the collar on his shirt was undone and his tie was loose. And we felt very playful and it was a great little tennis match and I leaned forward and just straightened his tie. It’s adorable that I’m 10 and steps ahead of you, and then watching Owen’s face as I straightened his tie. It’s those little moments, which I remember and Owen was just so inventive. I remember in the preparation for the show and I don’t want to go on too long, but he was kind of asking me to take him through the journey of playing Loki and the movies and the story and everything. And one afternoon he said, “I think I got it. I’m just so curious. I’ve seen the films and I understand the journey, but Tom, what do you love about playing Loki?” And I said, “I suppose it’s the character’s got so much range.” And I said, “It’s like a piano. He can play the light keys, but he can also play the heavy keys.” And then in a scene once, in the Time Theater, when Loki is trying to intimidate and threaten Mobius, Owen, just threw back, “See I can play the heavy keys too.” And it was great. And it’s in the show, you know? It’s those moments where that feels really exciting.

I also spoke to Michael Waldron and he said that the cliffhanger ending was not the original ending that was intended for the series. Luckily, it’s a great cliffhanger. Did that scene get you more excited about the potential for a second season?

Yes. I mean I thought when I finally got there, I thought, “O.K., there are some unanswered questions here. Yeah. And what happens now?” It made me not want to stop and just keep going, but I’m sure it was good for everybody’s energy levels that we did stop.

This is an admittedly stupid question. I’m assuming you’re excited about going back for the second season?

Absolutely. We’re in it already. I mean, we’re not filming, but we’re in prep, but we start in like six weeks or something. So we’re in full steam ahead in terms of a script and story and it’s really exciting. Yeah, I can’t say too much, but lots of questions to be answered.

“Loki” season one is available on Disney+