It's hard to picture lithe, dark-haired Tom Hiddleston as the blond, heavily muscled God of Thunder, but the British actor actually auditioned first for the title role in 'Thor,' not his lesser-known brother, Loki.
Then again, the pale Goth look Hiddleston rocks as the God of Mischief couldn't be more different from Hiddleston's usual appearance. "Usually, I look like Gene Wilder," the actor confessed of his naturally light, curly hair.
Considering how well he fits the role of Loki, the actor -- whose credits include the series 'Wallender' with 'Thor' director Kenneth Branagh -- might consider keeping those darker locks.
Hiddleston talked to Moviefone about being faster than Thor, how's he the smartest god in the room, and how that iconic horned helmet is a lot like the Batsuit.
Moviefone: You actually first read for Thor.
Tom Hiddleston: "[Co-producer] Craig [Kyle] says I was always going for Loki, it's just that I didn't know that. Ken was looking for raw and physical intensity for Thor and he told me I'd be better suited in a more complex role that was less about the physicality and more about the machinations of his brain.
What did you do to prepare for the role?
I had nine months to prepare, so I read all the comics.
Does Loki start off in the film as the God of Mischief?
At the beginning, he doesn't know his own power but he comes to learn his true nature and his propensity for mischief. As soon as he knows how powerful it is, that's when it becomes dangerous.
How does Loki's fighting style differ from Thor's?
One of the first things I did was stunt training. And we thought it'll be boring if Thor was a tank and if Loki was another tank and they were just running into each other. So we thought if Thor is thunder and power and muscle and brawn and he's got his hammer, Loki should be quicker, like the wind. Thor is heavy, and Loki is light.
How did you come up with the throwing knives as Loki's weapon of choice?
We thought that Loki doesn't like to get his hands dirty in a fight. He likes to be quick, efficient and lethal. And I thought Loki should fight in a way that was as impressive as Thor's, but was completely different. Loki is too quick and Thor can't catch him. Loki's a kind of martial artist with these throwing knives. He dances his way out of combat and these knives are his way of keeping his foes at arm's length, but it's lethal. When you get one of those knives in, you're gone.
How difficult is it acting with Loki's giant horned helmet?
The horns are amazing. It was the last thing I got to try on when I did the costume fittings and, for me, it was the most important thing. The horns are like Spider-Man's suit. Loki isn't Loki without those horns on. We had a conversation as to how much does he use them as a weapon or is it just a statement of intent? It's kind of a representation of his soul like, 'Back off, I'm dangerous.'
They are hard to work with it because they're very heavy. And because my ears are closed off, I can't hear very well and it becomes quite claustrophobic. But I know it looks good because I've seen it in playback, so it's worth it. And I read about Christian Bale complaining about the Batsuit and saying, 'I'm trying not to complain because I get to be Batman.' So I'm trying not to complain about the horns because I get to be Loki.
How did you get into character?
I listened to lots of the Prodigy. Their album, 'Music for the Jilted Generation,' has a real rage in it. I guess as an actor I start from the inside out. The costume is enormously helpful but I always think, what makes him tick? I've tried very much to make Loki psychologically plausible. I look at someone who is damaged, broken, alone. That's kind of who Loki is. He's angry with Thor because he gets everything, he's the favorite son.
What kind of direction did Kenneth Branagh give you?
Ken talked about the racing mind. He said, 'Every time I put the camera on your face, I want to see your brain going at the speed of light. But I don't want anyone else in the scene to see it.' So this is someone who's thinking 10 steps ahead of the game every time, but not making it so obvious that it'd be like, 'Guys, somebody look at Loki because he's cooking up something.' Badass, you know?
Ken also talked a lot about Peter O'Toole's greatest performances in 'Lawrence of Arabia' or 'The Lion in Winter.' You can see in his eyes that he's been pushed to the brink and you're not sure if you can trust him because there's a madness in there. A greatness, too, and a charisma and a power that you want to get close to, but it's a little bit dangerous.
Are there certain iconic gestures or poses from the comic book that you're trying to use, like Loki slouched on the throne?
Certainly, there's this fantastic shot of me on the throne where it's straight out of that sort of iconic image where he's got the staff and he's slouching on it. He's like, 'Got a problem with that?'
Jaimie Alexander and some of the other actors told us that they modeled their accents on yours and used you as a reference point.
I don't even know what my accent is. Obviously it sounds very English, but yeah, I'm flattered that they have. You're portraying gods and how do the gods speak without sounding ridiculous? You want to be accessible but at the same time you don't want to be like, 'Hey, can I get a venti cappuccino?' You need to believe that they're gods and they're old gods. I think that standard and classical English does the job.
Hiddleston will also play Loki in the upcoming 'Avengers' film and also appears in Steven Spielberg's 'War Horse' and Woody Allen's 'Midnight in Paris.'