The Avengers' Tom Hiddleston Talks The Madness Of Loki, His Hope For Redemption In Thor 2
Loki, as played by Tom Hiddleston in The Avengers, is completely bonkers. Following the events of Thor a movie in which the character discovers that he was adopted, is actually a monster, and tries to destroy and entire world, Loki has lost every bit of sanity within him and that then leads him to try and take over Earth. Amazing as it is to watch, itís even more fascinating to hear about the headspace that Hiddleston entered and his psychological explanation of the character.
A few weeks ago I had the fantastic opportunity to sit down with Tom Hiddleston one-on-one at the press day for The Avengers and talk about his portrayal of the God of Mischief in the new Marvel movie. Check out the interview below in which the actor discusses Lokiís desire to take over the planet, his self-perception, and how heíd like to see the character experience some kind of redemption.
I donít know if you remember me from when we spoke during the Thor press dayÖ
I was really hoping to continue our conversation about Loki from a psychological standpoint, because I really think heís such a fascinating villain. Heís obviously completely off base, but the way his mind works is incredible and I was hoping we could talk about it from that angle. For starters, in this film Loki makes the claim that humans were born to be ruled. I was hoping you could talk about approaching that idea through the character.
Itís kind of an inversion of that, in that Loki is a character who, for his entire life, was brought up with an expectation of entitlement. So he was lead to believe, with Thor, that he was born to rule. He was a prince who would exceed to a position of kingship. And itís true! Odin says at the beginning of Thor to the young boys of Asgard, ďOnly one of you may ascend to the throne, but both of you were born to be kings. Loki was obviously born to be king of Jotunheim and he only finds that out about halfway through Thor. But then because of what happens in Thor and the revelations of his lineage and geniality, there is a sense of intense betrayal at the heart of him, and thatís where, as you say, he went completely mentally, psychologically off base.
And, really, heís a kind of cocktail of psychological damage because he finds out late in lifeÖthe narrative of his life story is a lie, that he was, in fact, the bastard child of a monster, the mortal enemy of the royal family of Asgard. He was neglected, left out in the cold, then adopted, then lied to, then betrayed and all of that hardens and calcifies into an enormous anger, sadness and hatred. Basically, the motivation I think is Loki still has his expectation to rule, that thatís his purpose. If heíll never rule Asgard, if heíll never rule Jotunheim Ė because he tried to destroy it Ė so heís come down to Earth to subjugate humanity and rule this planet. So if he has nowhere to belong in the universe, he can make the Earth belong to him. Some kind of self-esteem and identityÖitís all woefully misguided [laughs].
Absolutely. I think thereís such a degree of self-deception with it. Weíre all capable of it Ė we tell ourselves lies all the time just to be able to survive. You could do something bad and itís so easy to forgive ourselves for the things that we do, and Loki is the worst example of that. Heís completely unself-aware. Like, if he had a self-awareness he would STOP [laughs]. And I certainly think that heís allocated himself toÖ I mean, Thor has a line in our scene on the mountaintop, he says to Loki, ďYou think yourself above them!Ē And Lokiís response is simply, ďWell, yes.Ē Which is somebody who is completely self-deluded! Heís in line with the most famous fascists in human history Ė people who think theyíre above everybody else.
Thereís the scene in Germany with Captain America and Loki.
Yeah! And Captain America says, ďLast time I saw this, a guy standing above everybody else, it didnít end well.Ē
Do you think that Loki has any chance at redemption or is he forever lost?
I donít think anybody is. I donít think anyone, until their soul leaves their body, is passed the point of no return. And thatís whatís so fascinating about Loki in the comics and in the course of Scandinavian mythology, heís constantly re-crossing that line, and heís brought back into the fold, heís forgiven, he forgives himself, and he goes off and does something equally appalling one more time. And thatís why he was incarnated as the God of Mischief. Thatís his inclination, thatís his predisposition. He will always fall. In a way heís an emblem of our capacity for fallibility. No matter how many times you forgive him, heíll always reoffend. But I hope that there is redemption, a glimmer of redemption within him, because I think thatís exciting! I think thatís exciting for me to play, exciting for Chris.
Is it something thatís in the back of your mind?
Oh yeah! In the heart of Loki there is the heart of a lost child and around it heís wrapped in a cloak of hatred and anger and pain and enormous power. But I think itís much more exciting if I think thereís always a possibility, because then it makes him three-dimensional, it makes him complex, and you hope some people in the audience are fighting for that. Itís part of Thorís motivation. Itís part of what makes Thor a good character, because Thor is fighting for his brother back. He wants his brother! He appeals to their childhood in this film, he says, ďWe fought together, played together. Do you remember none of that?Ē And Lokiís response is, ďI remember a shadow.Ē So I hope that somewhere down the line Ė I havenít seen a script for Thor 2 Ė I hope that somewhere in Thor 2 thatís something that is expanded on. I keep finding myself saying, I canít remember who said it, but, ďThe opposite of love is not hate, but indifferenceĒ and Loki is not indifferent to Thor. Loki hates Thor, which must mean that underneath that he still loves him.
I think thereís an element of not giving a shit anymore [laughs]. I think heís let go, certainly, of his need for the affection or pride of Odin. Thereís a bit where Thor says, ďWe all mourned! Our fatherÖĒ and Loki interrupts him and says, ďYOUR father.Ē And itís that sense of donít include me in this anymore. I have no relation or connection to you. Itís his way of saying Iíve let go, Iím gone, Iím on the outside of the fence, Iím happy here, I donít want to come back in. So that whole thing of trying to please his father is goneÖ I think we all see ourselves as the heroes in our own lives, so everybody is. Heís the protagonist in this movie, the motion picture of Lokiís life, heís starring as Loki.
And when coming to this character again, youíre doing so with a new writer/director in Joss Whedon. How much collaboration and input did you have in this latest version of Loki and how much did the character change from the script you first saw to what we see on the screen?
A few things, I suppose. The great thing was that Joss really agreed with me and Ken [Branagh] on what we built the first time around. I was so lucky that he loved it. Joss saw an early cut of Thor and because he saw Thor and because he liked it is the reason Iím the bad guy in this, because he found it interesting and poignant and complex and itís really up his street, as a character. And we wanted to take him further. The thing that I was very disciplined about was trying to expand his villainy into something much more feral and dangerous, which Joss was really pushing it towards. But, while doing that, never spilling into something two-dimensional and trying to retain the sort of spiritual complexity at the heart of him. So it never seemed like he was just an anarchist. Loki is not the Joker. Heís a different beast. Thereís a much more sort of complicated psychological motivation. Itís all really human. The Joker is just chaos.
I was actually just saying that to somebody at the press screening last night [laughs].
[laughs] So I hope you can see that heís not the same guy. I was trying to really preserve the psychological truth of that motivation. There was still this reservoir of pain bubbling away at the center of him.
And I know you said you havenít seen a script for Thor 2 yet, but have you had the chance to speak with director Alan Taylor?
Iím set to meet him sometime very soon. Iíve been busy in London doing these Shakespeare films and heís been here. But we know a lot of the same people. I hope heís a fan of what Iíve done.
Have you been watching Game of Thrones?
I have. Itís wonderful. Heís the perfect man for the job. He understands dynastic drama. He understands kings and queens and fantasy stuff. So Iím excited. I mean, weíve got so much more to do and the great thing about Thor is itís Thor the comic, Thor the character opens up a whole other world. Itís a fantasy world, itís a sci-fi world, itís its own special thing thatís separate from the Iron Man universe and all the more Earthbound superhero stuff. Who knows where weíre going to go in Thor 2, man? Itís exciting! We start in September!
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