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Press Conference: ‘Loki’ Aims To Be As Interesting And Mischievous As The God of Mischief

Marvel and Disney+’s Loki is finally upon us, and it promises to be every bit as mischievous and complicated as the God of Mischief has always been.

Geeks of Color was kindly invited to attend a virtual press conference hosted by Chris Hewitt from Empire Magazine where director Kate Herron, head writer Michael Waldron, producer Kevin Feige, and actors Tom Hiddleston, Gugu Mbatha-raw, Owen Wilson, and Wunmi Mosaku chatted about Loki’s solo outing and all the chaos he will unleash with his little adventure through time.

Tom Hiddleston as Loki in Marvel Studios’ Loki. (Courtesy of Marvel Studios)

Tom Hiddleston’s state of mind when he learned there will be more of Loki:

Hiddleston: I was so excited by the idea and also, I had to scratch my head of it because that scene in Avengers: Infinity War had felt so final. Had felt so conclusive, as the end of Loki’s story.  I knew that Avengers: Endgame was coming around the corner.  And, in that scene in that film, Loki picks up the Tesseract and disappears in a puff of smoke.  And where does he go?  When does he go?  How does he get there?

And Kevin [Fiege], Louis D’Esposito and Victoria Alonso all reassured me that would be the starting point of the series. There were so many places we could go. So many possibilities to think about.

When did you know you were gonna let him loose on his show and did you know where or when he was gonna go after Endgame?

Fiege: I think we did not know it when we shot Infinity War.  But I think we did know it when we shot Endgame is my recollection of it.  

What that meant and where that specifically would go, we didn’t know, but one of my favorite things coming out of Endgame was people saying that we forget to tie up the loose end of Loki.  Loki just disappears and we forgot to mention what happens to him at the end of that movie.

And, at that point, we did know that Disney+ coming and the show coming.

What did Michael Waldron hope to accomplish as head writer:

Waldron: I was just thinking Loki is DB Cooper.  That’s all I was thinking.

I was so excited about that opportunity when I heard that it was gonna be a series about Loki. It was already, you know, my favourite character in the MCU and it was gonna have a time travel element.  

Just the opportunities for chaos and fun within that, obviously, it just seemed like it would be a great time as a writer.  So, I went after it.  And-and started eliminating my-my enemies one-by-one.

Did Kate Herron “eliminate enemies” to become the series’ director?:

Herron: I just stalked Marvel, basically.  I found out they were making the show and I told my agent to just call them every day until they caved.  And it worked. So, essentially, yeah.  But I just was like, just get me in the room.  Just get me in the room. Persistence, I guess, and being a pain in the butt got me the job.

Orlando Maldonado asks-this is for Kate, Michael, and Kevin-what were some of your inspirations for the crime thriller aspect of the show?

Herron: Well, stylistically, I would say me and my DP, Autumn, were really inspired by a lot of film noir films. And you can see that in our lighting and how we approached it. Se7en is a very heavy influence. There’s a little reference to Se7en in episode two of a little needle drop, which I’m sure fans of that film will recognize instantly.

Waldron: I think Fincher for sure.  We were, you know, Zodiac and Silence of the Lambs were two specific ones, that we were really looking at a lot in the writers’ room.

Wunmi Mosaku as Hunter B-15 and Tom Hiddleston as Loki in Marvel Studios’ Loki. (Courtesy of Marvel Studios)

The real answer:

Fiege: The real answer is, the inspiration was Kate. We knew we wanted to do a Tom Hiddleston-Loki series. We knew we wanted to have time travel elements. Our producer, Stephen Broussard, and our other producer, Kevin Wright, and I were always fans of this Time Variance Authority organization from the comics for years and years. We’ve loved the idea of it. But just didn’t know exactly what to do with it before Kevin and Stephen had the idea of putting it as a major part of this show. 

But it’s really Kate’s meetings with us and her pitch that brought in all those references and allowed us to look at this as in a slightly different genre than we were anticipating.  So, that’s my answer; is our inspiration was Kate and her pitch for this job.

Jana Seitzer of Whiskey + Sunshine has this question for Tom. She says, “Loki has always seemed to be a bit of a misunderstood villain. What do you hope the audience will take away from the extended story of Loki and his growth in this series”?

Hiddleston: That’s a great question. What I love about the series is Loki is stripped of everything that’s familiar to him.  Thor is not close by. Asgard seems some distance away. The Avengers, for the time being, aren’t in sight. He’s stripped of his status and his power.  

And, 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?  And I think those questions became, for all of us, really fascinating to ask. What makes Loki “Loki”?  And, if there is something authentic or, something that at the center of him, is he capable of growth?  Is he capable of 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.  

I hope the audience get a kick out of where we take it.

How did Gugu Mbatha-raw, Owen Wilson, and Wunmi Mosaku come on board and what were their thought about joining the MCU. Also, the impromptu RADA reunion with Hiddleston, Mbatha-raw and Mosaku:

Wilson: Well, it didn’t take much convincing.  It was really the conversation that Kate and I had where it was a very comprehensive phone call where Kate really sort of walked me through the whole sort of idea for the show and the dynamic between Mobius and Loki.

Wilson: And it really was such an engaging phone call, I was kind of, you know, I think I signed on right then.

Mosaku: I was so excited. I didn’t know I was auditioning for Loki.  I had been given some sides for an audition and sent it into the ether and thought, well, it’s top-secret, so it’s probably really important. When I got a phone call in the middle of the night saying I’d been offered a part in Loki, I was like, when did I audition for Loki? Okay. Yeah, sure. 

Mosaku: And it was really exciting. I know Tom and Gugu, we were at drama school together, so I felt like, um, even though it was terrifying joining the MCU ’cause it’s like this huge thing, knowing that I was gonna walk into the room and have friends there, the people I’ve known…  Like, I’ve known Tom since I was 18…my first year at RADA.  You know, so it felt really, really good.  A little bit daunting still ’cause there is a thing about acting with your third year. There was something in that. I love it.

Mbatha-raw: It’s wonderful to see your generation rise.  You know, and as I say, stepping into these surreal, epic, larger-than-life worlds.  But when you have a shared experience, when you remember the same acting tutors and you’ve walked down the same corridor and the same canteen, and, you know all of these cultural references that we all had. Especially as we ended up shooting in the pandemic, you know, it was a real comfort to have these long-standing relationships and friendships.

Mbatha-raw: I didn’t actually audition.  I had a long chat with Kate initially on the phone, and it was, like Owen said, just so thorough, so passionate.

Gugu Mbatha-Raw as Judge Renslayer in Marvel Studios’ Loki. (Courtesy of Marvel Studios)

What was Gugu’s preparation for playing Judge Ravonna Renslayer:

Mbatha-raw: Well, luckily or unluckily for me, Kate explained to me that this was sort of more of an origin story for Ravonna Renslayer. You know, sort of predating some of the stuff in the comics. You know, that all that stuff is there.  But there was also the opportunity to feel like we were starting with something fresh with the TVA that hadn’t been seen before, by fans on screen. There’s plenty of potential for her in the future as well.

On the flipside, Wunmi is playing an original character:

Mosaku: No pressure because no one’s got any ideas of what they want her to be.  I can just bring you who she is, and you have to accept it. And I kind of like that because, you know, it does feel like a bit of pressure when you’re joining the MCU.  It’s like it’s the MCU!  Being able to just have like a clean slate and just do whatever I want to do with Kate and…  You know, it’s just-it’s great.  It’s fun. It’s kind of free

What has surprised Tom about Loki’s fanbase over the last 10 years:

Hiddleston: There’s no question that 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.  And that is incredibly gratifying for me. I see that as a big honour.  I think over time, I’ve been made aware of the different things that he represents for people.

Some people enjoy his playfulness and his spontaneity and that inherent sense of mischief that he has.  Some people enjoy his kind of quality as an antagonist.  Some people probably can’t stand him.  I don’t know.  But I know there are some people who are drawn to his vulnerability underneath all those layers of charm and charisma and playfulness is a kind of vulnerability I suppose.

I don’t know, some very relatable human thing about being vulnerable. I owe that to the writers actually. I owe that to everybody who’s ever written this character.  Everyone who’s written the character in the comic books. Obviously starting with Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, going all the way through J. Michael Straczynski, up to Daniel Kibblesmith.  I owe it to Don Payne, who wrote the first Thor movie, did the most extraordinary job, made Loki a character with such pathos.  

And from Don all the way to Michael and his amazing team, Eric Martin, Bisha K. Ali, Elissa Karasik and Tom Coffin, all those guys who put their heads together to think about this character.  So yeah, I just feel it’s a huge honour.

This press conference was edited for length and clarity.

Loki is exclusively on Disney+ every Wednesday starting June 9.

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