LOS ANGELES—“I always wear leather these days,” Tom Hiddleston quipped with a laugh as he strode in, tall and resplendent with long, flowing hair and Loki’s blue and black soft leather costume, complete with a cape.
He was on a break from filming “Thor: Ragnarok” at the Village Roadshow Studios in Oxenford, Gold Coast, Queensland in October last year. Earlier, we watched Tom and Jeff Goldblum (Grandmaster) shoot a scene in a colorful set.
“This is not my own hair, no,” he clarified with a grin. In contrast, Chris Hemsworth (Thor) surprised us with a short haircut in his return as Thor. “Chris doesn’t have to come in as early in the morning as I do,” Tom said. Is he jealous? “Chris just gets an hour more sleep than I do, but that’s OK,” he answered.
The London native sat down for a chat as he ate an orange and drank bottled sparkling water. There’s a playful mood in the studio which Tom credited to director Taika Waititi and costar Jeff Goldblum. The New Zealand filmmaker, noted for his small movies, is a refreshing choice to direct this third installment of the “Thor” franchise.
Tom and Chris are joined in the cast by Idris Elba, Cate Blanchett, Benedict Cumberbatch, Tessa Thompson, Mark Ruffalo and Anthony Hopkins.
Excerpts from our conversation:
Since we are on the set, what has been this day like for you, so far? Do you thrive in a grueling shooting schedule? I love what I do. I’m lucky to call this a job. In the scheme of things, a day’s work as an actor can’t be called grueling. I do get up very early, but that’s just the nature of how things are run because with Taika on this particular film, we like to shoot between 7:30 a.m. and 5 p.m.
I have to be ready to shoot at 7:30 a.m. so I’ve got to get all of this (hair and makeup) on before then. I get up to train because that’s the only time I have. So I get up at about 3 a.m. but I go to bed early.
At what time? Oh, it depends. If I’m shooting regularly, it’s easy to put myself to bed at around 8 p.m.
How long does the hair and makeup take? It takes a while because I don’t look like this underneath. There are little intricacies. I’m supported by the most incredible team that has done my hair, makeup and costume for some time. They take pride in their precision, and I depend on them. It takes about two and half or three hours. We’ve all seen films where a misplaced wig will take you out of the film.
How do hair, costume and makeup help you? The costume is always helpful. They’re big, structured, heavy costumes with capes, shoulder blades and body armor. It makes you stand in a different way—you stand up straight so you carry yourself differently than when you’re wearing jeans and a T-shirt. All of it is helpful. There’s something about these gloves—they feel like fighting gloves. It’s like armor. Loki is so protected.
The hair and makeup is helpful, too. It helps put me right back into place. The costumes are so brilliantly designed in this film because the designers have to replicate two-dimensional comic-book art, which is very colorful and often practically impossible. And yet, they manage to do it.
I’m not just standing in the costume, but fighting and running in it, doing tumbles and somersaults. They’ve found a way to make the costumes practical, so you can wear them for 10 hours, and they become a part of the performance.
In the scene that we watched on the set, we saw that Loki was delighted his brother was going to be in the gladiator match. Then, it was announced that it’s the Hulk he’s going to compete against. Loki goes, “Oh, sh*t.”
Loki hasn’t seen the Hulk since he lost “Infinity War One” in the first “Avengers” film, so the idea for Loki to be in the presence of the Hulk is immediately terrifying. He knows what happened last time.
Also, in that scene, there seems to be a little buddy thing going on between Loki and the Grandmaster. Can you talk about that relationship? The fun thing about the Grandmaster and Loki is that they’re both outsiders, mischievous spirits who probably both feel like they never belong. They have big egos and an anarchistic sense of humor. They recognize each other’s traits.
The Grandmaster has fashioned his own kingdom, which is a tyranny, basically. It’s where people dance and play music, but he’s a despot.
How is it working with Jeff? Jeff is absolutely one of the most consummate actors I’ve ever worked with. He’s so prepared and professional and, at the same time, relentlessly playful. He finds new ways to do it every single time, and he’s given so much. Every one’s been on the floor laughing.
He’s only been here for 10 days, but he’s been shooting every day. When I think of his career, there’s nothing he hasn’t done. But he’s still so fresh and energetic. It’s a real pleasure.
Can you talk about how refreshing it must be to have an indie filmmaker like Taika Waititi direct this? Earlier, Taika said the producers weren’t interested in a director who knows how to blow things up. The thing about directors is that they bring their own fingerprint to their films. I’d say that about any director I’ve worked with on this character—Kenneth Branagh, Joss Whedon, Alan Taylor and now, Taika. His particular artistic fingerprint is one of humor and humanity. He’s very funny and smart. He has injected into this film and into the world of Thor this incredible, light heart and sense of fun.
As Loki, I’m the god of mischief. I’ve always had fun, but every single character is having a great time in this. Chris Hemsworth is loving the fact that, now, people are starting to realize how funny he is. Taika and Chris together are a match made in heaven. This movie will have a lot of laughs in it, and that all comes from Taika. He’s fantastic.
Taika’s independent films are miraculous, truly. I saw “Hunt for the Wilderpeople” before I came here. It was shot in 18 days, which is an amazing achievement.
Obviously, you don’t want to repeat Loki as the same evil brother who tries to sabotage Thor. You want to add dimension. But now, we have Cate Blanchett playing the ultimate devil. What are the new curves for Loki in this film?
Loki has always been unpredictable. The most fun thing about him this time around is that I don’t have the responsibility to play the villain or antagonist. Cate is the villain, and she does an extraordinary job.
As for Loki, he has this mercurial presence. All Thor films are about family. There’s some sense of this family with enormous power—the father and two sons. The relationship between the two brothers is something that always evolves. It evolves in this one, as well, without giving too much away.
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