Tom Hiddleston is Loki, and he is burdened with glorious purpose: After playing Thor’s puckish brother for over a decade in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, no one understands the mercurial Asgardian God of Mischief as well as the actor. He can teach an entire seminar on Loki if given the opportunity — which he actually did during pre-production on his forthcoming Disney+ show.
In conversation, Hiddleston quotes lines from his MCU debut, 2011’s Thor, almost verbatim, and will playfully correct you if you mistakenly refer to Asgard’s Rainbow Bridge as the Bifrost, which is the portal that connects Loki and Thor’s homeworld to the Nine Realms, including Midgard, a.k.a. Earth.
“Well, the Bifrost technically is the energy that runs through the bridge,” he says with a smile. “But nine points to Gryffindor!” And when he shows up to the photo shoot for this very digital cover, he hops on a call with our photo editor to pitch ways the concept could be even more Loki, like incorporating the flourish the trickster does whenever magically conjuring something.
“Rather than ownership, it’s a sense of responsibility I feel to give my best every time and do the best I can
because I feel so grateful to be a part of what Marvel Studios has created,” the 40-year-old Brit tells EW over Zoom a few days after the shoot and a week out from Thor‘s 10th anniversary. “I just want to make sure I’ve honored that responsibility with the best that I can give and the most care and thought and energy.”
After appearing in three Thor movies and three Avengers, Hiddleston is bringing that passion to his first solo Marvel project, Loki, the House of Ideas’ third Disney+ series following the sitcom pastiche WandaVision and the topical The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. Led by head writer Michael Waldron (Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, Heels), the six-episode drama sees Hiddleston’s shapeshifting agent of chaos step out from behind his brother’s shadow and into the spotlight for a timey-wimey, sci-fi adventure that aims to get to the bottom of who Loki really is. “I wanted to explore slightly more complex character questions,” says Waldron. “It’s not just good versus bad. Is anybody all good? Is anybody all bad? What makes a hero, a hero? A villain, a villain?”
Even though Loki — who loves sowing mayhem with his illusion magic and shapeshifting, all with a major chip on his shoulder — has never been one for introspection, the idea of building an entire show around him was a no-brainer for Marvel. When asked why Loki was one of the studio’s first Disney+ shows, Marvel president Kevin Feige replies matter-of-factly, “More Hiddleston, more Loki.” First introduced as Thor’s (Chris Hemsworth) envious brother in Kenneth Branagh‘s Thor, Loki went full Big Bad in 2012’s The Avengers. That film cemented the impish rogue as one of the shared universe’s fan favorites, thanks to Hiddleston’s ability to make him deliciously villainous yet charismatic and, most importantly, empathetic. The character’s popularity is one of the reasons he’s managed to avoid death many times.
“He’s been around for thousands of years. He had all sorts of adventures,” says Feige. “Wanting to fill in the blanks and see much more of Loki’s story [was] the initial desire [for the series].”