We caught up with THOR & LOKI – Check out our exclusive interview
Whatever about the epic sibling rivalry on-screen, Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston are loving brothers off-screen. Paul Byrne goes in for the group hug.
There’s an ease that comes with actors who truly do enjoy each other’s company. It’s in the small details. They know little things about one another, having shared many a dead hour on-set chatting about pretty much everything beyond the job at hand. When Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston saunter into the room, the latter has just started chomping on a banana. The former promptly goes into organ grinder mode, miming the crank as the latter begins a little dance. Not as good as the Bar Bar Bar dance Hiddleston did on Korean TV last week, but, hey, these hotel carpets aren’t designed for getting funky.
It’s only the beginning of the ‘Thor: The Dark World’ hard sell, with the US and so much more still to come, and these boys seem determined to enjoy it.
They’ve been here before, with the 2011 original, simply called ‘Thor’. Directed by Kenneth Branagh, that movie took $449m worldwide, and the sequel is tracking to beat the original’s opening weekend of $65.7m with a figure predicted to be north of $75m.
The boost is two-fold. People liked that first ‘Thor’ outing, a lot, but, more significantly, the Marvel universe from whence ‘Thor’ came has since pretty much taken over the box-office. Last year’s ‘Avengers Assemble’ is the third biggest-grossing movie of all time, with a box-office take of $1.5billion. This year’s ‘Iron Man 3′ bounced back from a disappointing ‘Iron Man 2′ in 2010 to take $1.2billion. So, the pressure is clearly on the blonde, hammer-wielding deity and his duplicitous half-brother, Loki.
“I know the expectation was always there for these movies to be big,” says Hiddleston, “but I don’t think anyone at Marvel or Disney were expecting this kind of reception.”
Thanks to Hiddleston’s performance of Loki, the God Of Mischief has become almost as big an attraction as Thor himself, with over 25,000 signatures – courtesy of Loki’s Army, or the Hiddlestoners, as some prefer to be called – currently on a change.org petition page for a stand-alone Loki movie. “For someone who never thought he’d be an action figure someday, it’s a pretty dizzying experience. I thought the only hysteria in my life would be confined to two or three Shakespeare nutters at the stage door, not 70,000 screaming fans at ComicCon.”
Having made his way swiftly through the London theatre scene, this Cambridge graduate quickly progressed to TV (including 2001’s The Life And Adventures OF Nicholas Nickleby, 2002’s ‘The Gathering Storm’) and had just two small-budget big-screen outings under his belt (2007’s ‘Unrelated’ and 2010’s ‘Archipelago’, both directed by his friend, Joanna Hogg) when he landed the role of Loki, the thorn in Thor’s side. It helped that director Branagh was a friend, the two having thread the boards together in Ken’s production of Ivanov, and smiled for the camera side-by-side in the TV series Wallander. The phenomenal success of that first Thor outing hit, fittingly enough, “like a bolt of lightning”, says Hiddleston.
“I don’t think the cameras would have rolled on this one unless everyone at Marvel was happy with where the story was going,” adds likeable Aussie hunk Chris Hemsworth, “They’re very smart people, and they have a whole universe to play with here. A universe that they want to protect and nourish, and make sure people keep enjoying. Given the incredible reception to the characters, that’s quite a responsibility. These fans really care about how the stories unfold, how the characters are played, and how the movies are made…”
Hiddleston interjects. As friends do.
“What’s very important to remember though is that, amidst all the meticulous planning, and the incredible attention paid to every single detail, the powers-that-be never lose sight of the bottom line – people want to be entertained. That’s why there’s so much humour in these films. You’ve got all this research, preparation, huge, incredible sets, mind-boggling special effects, the costumes, the exotic locations, the actors giving it their all, but, really, you can’t let all that overwhelm the need to have a good time.”
“I reckon that’s a big part of the reason why the Marvel films have gone beyond those incredibly loyal comic book fans,” nods Hemsworth. “These are just incredibly entertaining movies, no matter what your personal taste might happen to be. There’s some romance in there too, of course, but none of it feels forced in to please another section of the audience. There’s a bounce to these movies that balances the dark with the light.”
Taking place a year after that big Manhattan-levelling battle showdown Loki and the Avengers gang that wrapped up last year’s box-office-battering ensemble piece, Thor: The Dark World sees our golden boy battle to save the Nine Realms from the permanently pissed-off Malekith (played by former Doctor Who actor Christopher Eccleston), who was banished to what looks suspiciously like Kilcoole by Thor’s grandfather, Bor, 5,000 years ago. As chance would have it, some black hole snooping by Thor’s earth-dwelling girlfriend, science geek Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) triggers Malekith’s return, forcing Thor to unite with Loki to save the universe from eternal darkness.
It’s all a little Tolkien-meets-Enya for the first hour, but once that nudge-nudge, wink-wink humour kicks in, ‘The Dark World’ gets around to being very entertaining. “It’s a lot of pressure, going up to bat when your team has just scored a string of home runs,” says Hemsworth, “but, what can you do? Other than give it your best shot, which is what we’ve done here. There was a great atmosphere on set, and I think that’s because we all believed in the film we were making.”
It helps too when your director is blasting out silly tunes – such as the theme from The Persuaders – to put a pep in everyone’s step. The director in question is Alan Taylor, best known for ‘Game Of Thrones’, having broken through with the big-screen gem ‘Palookaville’ in 1995 before tackling some of TV’s finest offerings, such as ‘The Sopranos’, ‘Homicide: Life On The Streets’, ‘Deadwood’ and ‘Boardwalk Empire’.
“I saw this movie last night, with a full house, and it felt like surfing,” says Hiddleston. “There were moments when the sea would be calm, and then a ripple, then, out of nowhere, a big wave, and I just loved that. The audience loved it, and, you know, I loved it too. To be honest, that’s the most important thing to me – to love the work I do. Otherwise, what’s the point?”
“Agreed,” says Hemsworth. “All the fame and fortune in the world can’t compete with loving your work.”
He takes a beat.
“And having a bloody good time doing it too, of course.”
Hiddleston gives him a smile.
“Oh, but of course…”
And with that, they’re out of the room. I grabbed the banana peel. I’ve seen dumber memorabilia on ebay.
Words : Paul Byrne
Thor: The Dark World is at Irish cinemas from October 30th