Before Tumblr became the land of Loki appreciation posts, around the time Loki’s Army began to burgeon, Tom Hiddleston sat down to talk about his inspiration behind The Avengers’ nefarious foe and becoming F. Scott Fitzgerald in last year's Midnight in Paris.
GEEK: You have said that you did not grow up exposed to comics or the character of Loki, did you draw upon historical or other literary villains for your characterization? Your performance had a very classical feel to it.
TOM HIDDLESTON: I think that what’s closest to my heart is Shakespeare, I really am a nerd about Shakespeare. I love it! And the reason why is because he is one of the wisest, most passionate writers in the course of western literature, in the course of all literature. He understood human nature so deeply, not just our great capacity for virtue and for goodness and for love but our capacity for pain and destruction and anger. His bad guys are the best bad guys in the biz! You have Iago in Othello, Edgar in King Lear, Cassius in Julius Caesar, and they were touchstones for me. When I created Loki with Ken Brannagh (Director of Thor) we talked about Edmond the bastard son, someone who’s grown up in the shadow of another man. And in King Lear, Edgar is the legitimate son, the favored son. Edmond is the bastard, the illegitimate, the one who’s less loved… underloved, which feeds his lack of self-esteem. Then you have Iago who is the ultimate chess master… the incarnation of evil, someone who is bringing people down and you’re not quite sure why. Is he motivated by some terrible jealousy or ambition? And Macbeth is undone by his ambition. So I guess those are my touchstones.
Have you been involved with the Shakespeare readings at Joss Whedon’s house?
I have not but we talked about it. We talked about Shakespeare and I’m desperate to see his (adaptation) of Much Ado.
On the subject of literary figures, what research did you do in order to become F. Scott Fitzgerald for Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris?
I read as much as I could in the time that I had and re-read stuff. One of the favorite things that I did was… Allison Pill and I had a day in each other’s company before we shot to get to know each other and we were staying at the hotel in Paris called the Bristol and we sat on the roof of the hotel. It was a really sunny day and she had a book of the letters that Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald sent to each other. It’s a compilation of all of the letters they sent to each other, their lives, some of the most romantic, intimate writing I have ever read. And then on the suggestion of Cory Stahl who played Earnest Hemingway, I downloaded a reading of The Great Gatsby by – I can’t remember the actor off the top of my head – but he sounded like Orson Wells and then I walked around Paris for three days listening to this very venerable American actor who sounded like he was from Princeton in 1929 reading Gatsby. I found it so kind of inspiring.
Listen to that inspiring version of The Great Gatsby (we assume) as read by Frank Muller.