Tom Hiddleston on Playing Loki, ‘Betrayal’ & His Career in Theater & Film | MTV News

– Dramatic entrance. Ladies and gentlemen, Tom Hiddleston. (laughter) – This is really nice. – It’s good, right?
– Good to see you. – Works, right? – Yeah. This is lovely. – Thanks for coming over. – This your new permanent set up? – Yeah, this is it. They booted me out of MTV, so I’m working in an
abandoned theater now. – It’s pretty, you know. It’s got an acoustic. – Yeah, exactly. No one comes to visit me. You’re my first visitor. Thank you very much. – My pleasure. – [Josh] Have a seat.
– [Tom] Thank you. – [Josh] You know, we’re obviously in this beautiful theater. – Yeah, it’s lovely here. – Very close to where
you’re gonna be performing ‘Betrayal’ on Broadway. – A block away, I think. – Your debut coming very soon. And it strikes me. I thought back. We’ve known each other about nine years. Almost exactly nine years. – Wow. – And our first meeting
was at a much different kind of place. – Yes. – Comic-Con. – San Diego Comic-Con. – So, I think that kinda speaks to the two ways your career have gone. The way you’ve balanced both. You have the Comic-Con life and you have this kind of life. – Yeah. Exactly right. (laughter) It’s amazing to hear it put like that. Yeah, it’s funny. It’s a life as an actor. Life as an actor in the 21st century. But for me, they’re indivisible. They actually feed each other. – Yeah. – And the strange thing
is that Kevin Feige first saw me act in a theater. – Right. – That was before anything else. He came to see Kenneth Branagh about the possibility
of him directing ‘Thor.’ I remember him, well I remember him being in the audience and I
briefly shook his hand. It’s like you say, one’s the Comic-Con life, and one’s the theater life, but actually they start in the same place. – You know you spent most of your twenties really devoted to theater. I mean, that was your life. – Yup. – Was that because that was the love or you couldn’t conceive
of a TV or film career? How much of it was just
out of practicality, like, “I can’t even imagine that kind of being a movie star?” – Yeah probably that. It seemed so remote. Like probably everybody
growing up loving movies and loving TV and loving theater, it wasn’t like it was my
passion was sort of divided. It was just a whole-hearted
love of stories. Maybe the culture that I grew up in. Theater’s easier to do when you’re a kid. All you need is an empty
space and some words. – Yeah. – At the time I guess, as a
child of the ’80s and ’90s, the cameras weren’t so easily accessible. – Right. – So this idea of making
movies was so remote. Other people do that. I think it was actually, I
probably didn’t allow myself to dream as big as that. In my head I thought,
“Wow, maybe one day.” But, kind of it’s a dream that’s really at the back of the highest
shelf in the cupboard in the attic room of the house of my mind. – One thing that always strikes me is the focus that’s required for an actor. Because it’s a living breathing thing. You have the audience right there. I don’t know. Can you see the audience
generally speaking? – I can. I don’t know why I can see everybody. I can see everyone in the house. – So, does that ever rattle you? You must recognize friends, celebrities. Has that ever happened
to you where you’ve seen like, “Oh, that’s Oprah
Winfrey” or whatever? – There was one performance
of ‘Ivanov,’ the Chekhov play, which we did in 2008, where I came on stage and I looked out into the house and I saw a sea of faces and Michael Caine. Just, there he was. – A spotlight on him. – Looking at me. Yeah, I was like, “Oh no.” And I momentarily froze and like, “Michael Caine is watching.” This may be the only time that Michael Caine is gonna watch you act. – Do we know for sure it was Michael Caine and not just an apparition? – Yup, it was Michael Caine. It was him. I think he liked it. – Is there something about
the stage that lets you kind of push yourself in areas that otherwise would rattle you? I mean, for instance,
again I’m always amazed by the lengths that actors can go, especially in a live environment. – What I love about a play, and
it is unique to the theater, is this consequential momentum that you get across performing the whole thing. – Sure. – And, when I first started making films, I initially found that difficult. You’d make a discovery in a scene, cut, and then it becomes this
sort of construction site for half an hour, trying
to sustain a integrated psychological reality for the character so that if you’re doing,
let’s take the first ‘Thor’ movie for example. Some of those sequences
at the end of the film between me and Chris Hemsworth were seven or eight weeks apart. – Right. – But in the movie,
they’re next to each other. So you’re like, “Right. Seven weeks ago, I was in this mood and I was this level of emotional volatility.” And having to just re-find that. – Any superstitions
particular to the theater. – (laughs) There’s one. I’m thinking there’s a warm-up game which I think I’ve
played almost every time. Which is about, it’s called Big Booty. – Sorry? – Big Booty. – Ah, yeah. – Yeah, that’s what it’s called. – It’s not related to anything. Any body part.
– Okay. Specifically. But you play it as a group
and it’s standing in a circle. And it’s kind of like
a rhythmic game where everyone playing has
to keep a specifically musical rhythm and if they break it, they go to the back.
– Got it. If you’re at the top,
you’re the Big Booty. It’s crazy. – How often are you the Big Booty? – (laughs) In ‘Betrayal’ in London, I was the Big Booty for, ’cause I taught everyone the game, so people were like “God this is so hard” so I managed to stay Big
Booty for three weeks. And then Charlie Cox and Zawe Ashton like, “We’ve gotta get Tom off the top. We’ve got to knock him off.” So, it became intensely competitive. Yeah. – I know from experience what
a master imitator you are. You can do seemingly any voice. Did that start young? Was that something–
– Yeah, I… Were you imitating friends and… – Yeah, I think I’ve
always been fascinated by sounds and by language. Long before we had iPhones
where you could make voice memos I had a double tape deck and I did my own at the age of eight or nine I pretended I was a radio DJ. And I would do all the voices. So I would be like,
“Now we’re gonna cut to Tina with the transport
report with the weather.” And I’d be like, “Hello, I’m Tina. There’s some rain in this…” It was so crazy. But I think I’ve always been fascinated by how people present
themselves I suppose. – You’re gonna make a life in New York for the next few months. – Yeah. – In terms of walking
around with some anonymity, would it behoove you to
adopt a different voice, whether it’s an acting exercise or, to maintain some anonymity? – (laughs) I think when
I was preparing to play Hank Williams, I did a
bit of that in Nashville. Just to see if I could pull it off. – Yeah. – But then people would go,
“Hey, don’t I know you?” And I’d be like, “Yeah, you do probably.” (laughs) So, it doesn’t last very long. Yeah, I’m looking forward to hearing the sounds
of New York for sure. – How many Benedict Cumberbatch
autographs have you signed? – (laughs) Haven’t signed any, no. – You’ve never signed a Benedict photo? – I’ve never signed a Benedict photo, no. – Because, it’s bizarre
to confuse you two, ’cause you couldn’t be more different, but you are lumped together still to this day a little bit
– We are, yeah. – I don’t know why that is. Maybe it’s because of
‘War Horse’ or something. But, I signed a Michael Fassbender photo. – Why not? – Yeah, why not? He’s a very handsome man. (laughs) – So, have the comparisons between you and Benedict ever rubbed
you the wrong way? – No. No no no. No. He’s a very dear friend. I saw him last weekend. He’s amazing. He’s an amazing actor. – I’ve seen both of you dance
first hand in front of me. – I apologize. Unreservedly. – Who do you think is the better dancer? You or Benedict? – I couldn’t possibly.
That’s not for me to say. – Oh. That’s…you’re saying you. That’s how you say–
– That’s not for me to say. – That’s for the people to make a choice. – Let’s go to the tape. (laughs) Let’s talk a little bit
about this amazing play, ‘Betrayal’ which
– Sure. I was fortunate enough to see
– Yeah. in London. It’s the same crew,
same director, same cast you’re bringing. – Yeah. Jamie Lloyd, our director. Zawe Ashton, Charlie
Cox, and Eddie Arnold. – And it’s from some very important, significant source material. Pinter, of course, one of
the most notable playwrights in existence. Talk to me about what
you love about this play that is bringing you
back for a second run. – I’ve loved Pinter for a long time. He talks about the idea
of drama as an excavation of truth.
– Right. And that basically, the
whole point of drama is that you’re trying to
get to something truthful about the experience of being alive. There’s no such thing as one truth. There are many truths. They challenge each other. They recoil from each other. They seduce each other. I love this play. It’s about a triangle of relationships. A husband, a wife, and
the husband’s best friend. Robert and Emma are married. And Jerry was best man at
Robert and Emma’s wedding. – Right. – Jerry and Emma have
been having an affair for seven years. And it’s told in reverse order. It’s truly bittersweet. It’s both sad and funny because
the audience are watching it going, “Oh.” They can see the car crash coming. But there’s something amusing about that because in a way it’s a game. So I think that’s unique to Pinter, too. That he can excavate an
experience that’s quite painful but make it funny. – Exactly.
– Yeah. – So when you think of the word betrayal, we’ve all been betrayed.
– We have. Personal, professional ways.
– Yup. Does something that you’re
comfortable talking about ever come to mind? Do you feel like you’ve ever
been betrayed professionally, personally, that you can
relate to this experience that’s helpful for you in this? – I think what I relate to is the sadness of being betrayed. ‘Cause the commitment to trust is huge. To trust someone. To be vulnerable. To trust someone enough to
show them your vulnerability. Many of the characters I’ve played have been betrayed. (laughs) – Right. ‘Betrayal’ could
basically be the name of any Thor-Loki story basically. – I mean, Loki does a lot of betraying. – Exactly. I was gonna
say, dude let’s start with Loki as the betrayer. – Yeah okay. Both betrayer and betrayed. Although in his mind, he would justify it. – Right. You’re still in character. Yup. – Unfortunately, it’s retaliation. A cycle of retaliation as
we know is a fool’s errand. – But it’s interesting
you talk about trusting, because when I think of
the hits you’ve taken over the years, it’s not about work stuff. It’s about people misinterpreting you I think based on you being
earnest and being honest, and I think people not understanding that. – Right. – Is that accurate to say? – Probably. It’s been that way for a long, been that way since I was a kid. – Yeah. – (laughs) It really has. I’ve always, I think I’m
probably the same now as I was then.
– Yeah. That’s what makes me
feel most comfortable. – Right. You’ve retreated
a lot from social media in recent years.
– Yeah. Is that part of just, “If
people are gonna misinterpret me in some ways, then I’m
gonna need to protect myself and that’s a way of protecting
myself a little bit”? – Maybe. I think we live
in a world of distractions and I actually think it was just about trying to live more in reality. – Yeah. Focus on the things that
are real and important. – Yeah. Reality is your friend. I think sometimes in social media people do tend to say things which they wouldn’t say to someone’s face. – Totally. – And I thought, “Well
maybe I’ll just do some, I’ll just live in reality
and have some face-to-face interaction and that might
kind of lead to sort of more of a grounded
connection with people.” – Maybe one of the small good
things about social media it’s created millions of
amazing Tom Hiddleston GIFs over the years. – (laughs) Okay. I’ll
take your word for it. – Oh come on. Have you ever
sent a GIF of yourself? – There’s a great one,
which I’ve sent quite a lot, of Loki just putting
his head in his hands. It’s this sort of exasperated, “Oh no, this isn’t gonna end well.” – Yeah, that works on many
occasions, I would think. – Yeah. Delayed trains, canceled flights. It just– it works. – I believe the last Broadway
production of ‘Betrayal’ starred Daniel Craig. So is this your elaborate
way of moving up the list? For Bond? – No. Nope. – It’s funny, ’cause I’ve
talked to many actor– I’ve talked to Idris and others who are on these lists
that are or are not real. Daniel Craig still has the mantle. And a lot of them have
the reaction you have and I totally get it. You don’t wanna feed the beast. You don’t wanna…that’s basically it. (laughs) Yeah. Wow. That’s literally the only
thing I can ask you about that would really make
you shut up I think. (laughs) You ever daydream about that role? You must! I daydream about playing James Bond and I’m not a professional actor. Okay. Let’s talk about other things. (laughter) After the play, you’re gonna
be shooting your TV series. – Yes, yes I am. – Which is crazy for a number of reasons. One of the crazy aspects is
ostensibly you’re gonna play, you’re gonna do more of Loki
– Than I’ve ever done. than you’ve ever done
in the nine years prior. – I know. – Which is amazing. – It’s amazing. Yes. Six hours. – Has there been a point where you legitimately thought it was done? ‘Cause we’ve joked
about it over the years. I remember you mock
cried on the carpet for ‘Thor: Dark World.’ People still give me crap. They think I made you
cry because you thought you were gonna end. – Do they really? – Yeah. – Oh no. It’s a mock
tape. C’mon guys. Yeah. – I guess, my question
is did you ever think the run was over? – Yeah. 100%. I thought
‘Thor: The Dark World’ was it.
– Yeah. And then there was the
sort of altered ending. But then the Marvel universe went off in quite a different direction after that, so I didn’t know if I
was ever gonna be back. ‘Infinity War’ was final. – The death scene in the
beginning of ‘Infinity?’ – The death scene in the
beginning of ‘Infinity War’ that was really pitched to me
two years before we filmed it. When I first went to
see Kevin to talk about ‘Thor: Ragnarok’ and he was
kinda telling me this story and the arc and Hela and the whole thing, Sicar and the Grandmaster,
he was just sort of telling me the loose bones of the story, the Russos were in the building. And he said, “At the end of this meeting, I’d love for you to meet Joe and Anthony. And they don’t know what’s gonna happen in Avengers 3 yet, but they
have their opening scene. And they’re gonna tell you what it is.” – Oh gosh. Okay. – So they told me whatever
three years ago now what happened, that opening scene. They were like, “This is
how we’re gonna start.” And so I thought, “Well,
I guess that’s it then.” – So wait, they don’t
follow that up by saying, “But the next movie,
don’t worry you’re back”? – I don’t think they had that figured out at that point. – So what about by the time you shot it? When you shot it did they know? – Oh when we shot it
they knew for sure. Yeah. – And you knew. – I knew about the ‘Endgame’ piece. But I knew that in
terms of Loki’s journey, the arc was complete
– Got it. at the beginning of ‘Infinity War.’ And it was very emotional. Josh Brolin was really sweet. He was like, “I’m sorry man.” (laughter) But also, bless him. Joe and Anthony were really like, “This is momentous. This is
how we’re opening this film. And this is the end of
Loki. And that’s it.” And when I shot it, I thought that was the last,
absolutely the last time I would play the character. – And how long ago did they
present the idea for a series? And were you immediately on board? – I knew about six weeks
before the worldwide release of ‘Avengers: Infinity War’ which meant I had to go and do press for ‘Avengers: Infinity War’ going, “Yup. That’s it guys.” – Well, you’re used to lying. That’s — you’re pretty good at by now. – Yeah, so I did know about it then. But I didn’t know what
the pitch, the story was. And I can share this with you. That working with them
on what it’s gonna be. What the content’s gonna be. What the meat and potatoes
of the story’s gonna be. The tone, the context,
the different challenges. It’s so exciting. – Can we take it that, we know
a ‘Rick and Morty’ writer’s your show runner. So is that indicative of the tone, that it’s maybe a little
more comedic than… – Oh, yeah, there’ll be
humor in it for sure. It’s funny. But there’s also, it’s the Loki… – Of 2012 basically.
– Yeah. So he’s still, he’s not redeemed. – Yup. Yup. – Right? So a little bit
more of the nefarious. – That’s where he starts. – Okay. But by the end
of the six hours, he’s… – Well, he’s in a whole
other set of challenges. But it’s really interesting. We take, so I feel like I know him insi– I mean, I’ve been playing
him for 10 years now. And that’s crazy to me. By the time it’s out, I’ll be 40. And when I was cast, I was 29. – [Josh] That’s crazy. – Which is a great chunk of my life. Somebody else can do the math. I think it’s just over a quarter. (laughter) But the point is, there’s this sense of I know this character now. I feel that the audience knows him. And playing him, and
playing him truthfully but presenting him with new challenges which then I’d have to
change him in different ways is the most exciting aspect of it. So there’s this, you’ve got
his very specific gifts. His intelligence, his treachery, his mischief, his magic. And then seeing him come up against more formidable opponents,
the like of which he has never seen or known. I wish I could tell you what happens, but I can’t. – I can’t wait. A couple rapid fire things for you. – Okay. – Do you remember the first, I don’t know if it would
have been rated R back where you are from, but the first adult-rated
film you saw as a kid was? – ‘Terminator 2: Judgment Day.’ – Nice. – Is there a movie that
you’d be ashamed to admit you’ve never seen? – Yeah, I’ve never seen ‘Wings of Desire.’ – Okay. Wim Wenders.
Okay. Yeah. There you go. Best celebrity that
you’ve ever karaoked with. – Eddie Redmayne. – Really? – Oh my god. Have you
seen ‘Les Miserables?’ – No, I mean, I’m not surprised. Of course he’s a great singer, but… – Yeah. I saw him sing “A Whole New World” from ‘Aladdin’ once and
everyone had to stop after that. We were like, “Well we can’t go on.” – Have you ever cried at the
news that you’ve gotten a role? – Don’t think I’ve cried. – Okay. – But I had to sit down on
the pavement, the sidewalk, when I got cast as Loki. I just had to sit there for a little bit. – Have you ever cried at the news that you haven’t gotten a role? – No. – Last TV show you binged. – ‘Succession.’ – Oh it’s a good one. – Oh. – New season’s about to start. – Can’t wait. – Would you like to see
Chris Evans star in a Avengers musical? – Yes. – I mean, you guys have
a lot of musical talent in that cast. – Yeah. – Literally, almost everybody. – There’s a lot of tap, I feel. (laughter) Robert Downey, he’s a tapper. – Is he? Well, I mean… – Doesn’t he tap in ‘Chaplin?’ – Yeah yeah yeah. – Chris I know can tap. Evans. – Renner has a new album out? – Oh Renner I’m sure. Yeah. Yup. – Lot of good moves in there. – In the batch.
– Benedict. – Dr. Strange can dance. – It’s always a privilege
to chat with you, my friend. Congratulations on the play. Everybody should check it out. This is Tom’s Broadway debut. – Broadway. – It’s been a long time.
– Can’t believe it. – That’s the dream. It’s a big dream. The idea I came to New York
City for the first time in 1998 with my dad and my sisters. And I was here for a week
and we did everything. We went to see the Statue of Liberty and we went to the Museum of Modern Art and we went to Central Park and wandered around Times Square. And my dad was like, “This is Broadway.” And I was like, “Wow. That
would be a thing one day.” And here I am. So it’s pretty cool.


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