Tom Hiddleston and the everlasting charm of Loki

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Loki, the sometimes evil, several times manipulating, and all-the-time charming character from the Marvel comics got his live-action version in Thor (2011). Loki has been portrayed by British actor Tom Hiddleston on the big screen since then, and the Golden Globe-winner and Emmy-nominated actor has played the part of the Norse deity with as much wit he could muster.

In real life, Tom comes across as someone who is well-read, soft-spoken and funny. But Loki required him to be loud, all over the place, and still be suave as hell. And the actor ticked all those boxes with what looked like considerable ease. A mark of a good actor, that.

In an interview a while ago about Loki, the actor had said that he still cannot completely understand what it is that the mischevious God wants.

“I’ve spent six or seven years of my life trying to get to the bottom of what exactly it is that he wants. When he seems to get close to what he wants–power, acceptance, belonging–he changes direction. I think that is the thing that keeps him interesting in a way. He’s cunning and transformative and changeable and will do everything he can to survive. He’s the trickster. He’s the God of mischief,” Tom had said.

One of the things that is exciting about Loki is that he is very human in his behaviour. He necessarily doesn’t think like a ‘God’. And that makes him quite complicated, of course, an actor worth his salt would jump at the opportunity of playing someone like Loki. But Tom didn’t, he wanted to play Thor, as the actor had revealed in an episode of The Graham Norton Show. So it is a bit of a surprise that he has come to develop such a strong bond with the Marvel character.

“When I put on the costume, the make-up, and wig for the first time for this film and looked in the mirror, I thought to myself, ‘Wow, there he is.’ It was like seeing an old friend. It was good to see him, in a way. I feel like I know him,” ScreenRant had quoted the actor as saying during his Thor Ragnarok interview.

Tom is a thorough student, and his dedication shows when you read reports about him basing Loki on cinema’s three legends–Peter O’Toole (of Lawrence of Arabia), Jack Nicholson and Clint Eastwood. Loki is mad as a hat, intense (when he needs to be), and just a bag full of dynamism. So, it is not incredibly surprising that Tom’s inspiration for the character were the aforementioned greats.

Tom is silent, funny, engaging, detestable, and almost impossible to ignore as Loki. His face shines when he’s up to ‘something’, just like the character we envision in our heads. Tom has played the field fearlessly as Loki, despite sharing the screen space with actors like Samuel L Jackson and Mark Ruffalo. In fact, for moviegoers, Tom has made Loki as popular as Thor, a feat in itself.

The actor especially holds a special place in fans’ (and by fans, I mean myself) hearts for one incident alone. Remember when he dressed up as Loki for 2013’s Comic-Con and rocked Hall H like nobody’s business? I do, in detail. The lights went out, the room became enveloped in darkness, audience froze. And a voice boomed, “Humanity, look how far you’ve fallen. Lining up in the sweltering heat for hours, huddling together in the dark like beasts!”

The crowd chanted “Loki, Loki” like they were under a spell. I felt like I was watching The Undertaker make his grand entrance. It was dramatic. It was glorious. The appearance also proved how attached and in-sync Tom had become in a couple of years with Loki. Gone was the sweet and shy guy, and there he was in his outlandish costume, working the room like he really was as powerful as the character he played on screen. At the risk of sounding like a fangirl, I have to say, It was something.

The actor later revealed in an interview with MTV that the idea of coming as Loki to comic con came from Marvel Studios’ head, Kevin Feige.

“I was a bit blown away by it. But I was onboard from the get-go,” he explained. “It was just a question of fine-tuning it. It was really fun working with him on the details of what it should be. I really wanted to kind of not break character, and keep the integrity of the character, so it didn’t seem like I was setting myself up too much”, the actor had said of the experience.

To not break character while being physically present in a real-world setting is tough. Even theatre artists have the little luxury of a tiny set in an auditorium. But Tom put up quite an act as the Norse lord in Hall H.

There are reports doing the rounds that the actor might bid farewell to the beloved Marvel character, but as of yet, nothing has been confirmed. But it is safe to assume that any other actor who decides to take up the role in future would have a fairly difficult time filling Tom’s big shoes.

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