By ANGELA DAWSON
Front Row Features
LONDON—The stars of “Thor: The Dark World” recently gathered here to promote the second installment of the fantasy adventure revolving around the Marvel comic book and ancient mythological legend.
Returning as the god of Thunder is Aussie hunk Chris Hemsworth. The Mighty Avenger battles to save Earth and the other eight Realms from a shadowy enemy that predates the universe.
In the aftermath of Marvel’s “Thor” and “Marvel’s The Avengers,” Thor fights to restore order across the cosmos but an ancient elf race led by the vengeful Malekith (Christopher Eccleston) returns to plunge the universe into darkness. To defeat an enemy that even Odin (Thor’s father, once again played by Sir Anthony Hopkins) and (his home world) Asgard cannot withstand, Thor sets forth on his most dangerous and personal journey, forced into an alliance with the treacherous Loki (Tom Hiddleston, reprising his role as Thor’s unpredictable and jealous adopted brother) to save not only his people and those he loves but the universe itself.
Hemsworth and Hiddleston spoke about their onscreen sibling rivalry and reprising their fantasy roles.
Q: The subject of trust is prevalent within the film. Having worked together on a number of films, are you free to experiment because there is a trust between you as actors?
Hemsworth: Sure. There’s certainly a shorthand we have, this being the third film we’ve shot together. You don’t spend a chunk of your shooting time getting to know one another. We’re able to pick up where we left off, and have developed a great friendship along the way. From the beginning, we were lucky. We just had chemistry and the same kind of enthusiasm. Just the relationship I look forward to, because you’re really delving into questions that Thor and Loki haven’t really had the acute focus to do. This instance was a great opportunity we had.
Hiddleston: It’s absolutely true. From the beginning of Kenneth Branagh’s “Thor,” all the way through Joss Whedon’s “Avengers” and into Alan (Taylor’s) “Dark World,” it has been an amazing adventure for both of us. The two characters define each other, and need each other. All acting is about what happens in the space between people. The more you trust each other, the deeper you can go. When I’m on set with Chris, whatever he serves, I’ll return, and he’ll return back, and that is the joy of it for me.
Q: A major theme in this is your sibling rivalry. Chris, you’ve go two brothers, and I just wondered whether you drew on your relationship with them to inform your interactions with Loki. Also, as they’re both actors, is there a lot of competition among the Hemsworth brothers?
Hemsworth: None of us have ever attempted to take over universe just yet. (He laughs.) But I think I’d have the same reaction if they did. We’re competitive as siblings in kind of everything from backyard cricket, football, and surfing, to who’s controlling the remote control watching TV. In this industry, not so much. All three of us understand the sort of frailty and inconsistency of the work and we help each other with auditions and whatever scripts we’re working on. We’re not in direct competition anyway. It’s more of a kind of team effort than anything else.
Q: How about you, Tom? Any sibling rivalry?
Hiddleston: I have two sisters, so it’s a slightly different dynamic.
Hemsworth: (to Hiddleston) They have long hair, though, like Thor.
Hiddleston: That’s it, long blonde hair, both of them. I suppose the thing about siblings is they know you better than anyone. There’s that thing of always being bound together by your histories. There’s something very honest about the interaction (between siblings). You can’t lie in front of them. I love in this film that Thor is able demand from Loki that he play his hand. Loki’s someone who’s constantly in control, but he’ll never show you how he really feels, and the only person who gets close to it is Thor. That seems very true of sibling relationships.
Hemsworth: In the film, we do actually have different parents. Loki was adopted into the Asgardian family. But we love one another like brothers.
Q: How did you like working with Natalie again as human scientist Jane Foster?
Hemsworth: It was brilliant to have Natalie back to break up some of the godly testosterone of Thor and Loki doing their thing with the beautiful Jane.
Hiddleston: Yeah. I loved working with Natalie. In the first film Loki’s aware of Jane Foster’s presence and refers to her. But it was so fun (in this film) to see what happens when the two share the same space: Violence, as you see.
Q: Chris, you recently called Britain the new Hollywood as a place to film. So, what’s it like filming in the U.K. versus the U.S.?
Hemsworth: I don’t know that a lot of stuff gets shot in Hollywood anymore. Once upon a time it did, but it’s predominately sets and studios. The nice thing about (London) is there are incredible studios (as well as) brilliant locations to take advantage of. I love the aesthetic this film has, because not only (do we see) Asgard, but also we get to see London. Most of these films are set with sort of New York or an American city as the backdrop. I love that difference. I do love shooting here.
Q: If Comic-Con’s anything to go by, people really love Loki. What do you think it is about Loki that people seem to really love?
Hemsworth: Can I tell you what I love about Loki? I don’t know that it was ever the plan to have Loki in this many films. It purely to do with everything that Tom brought to the table in the first one, how incredible he was, and the mixture of strength and villainy, and mischief and vulnerability. It’s such an access point. You can immediately kind of empathize with this misunderstood guy. That’s why (producer) Kevin (Fiege) keeps bringing him back into every film. My hat goes off to Tom. He’s done such an incredible job in every film, and hopefully we can keep sneaking him in more some way.
Hiddleston: (to Hemsworth) I love you, man. I think Loki is defined by Thor. He’s defined in opposition to him. They are yin and yang. They are the sun and the moon. The whole point of them is that they are in opposition. The popularity of the character has been such an amazing surprise. I found him a fascinating prospect, because he’s a mixture of playfulness, charm and mischief. That’s his moniker. He’s the god of mischief, so there’s a playfulness to him. But he’s such a broken character. He’s grief-stricken, bitter, jealous, angry, lonely and proud. The cocktail of all of his psychological damage and playfulness, as an actor, is just a really interesting thing to inhabit.
Q: Chris, how do you feel you’ve developed as an actor from the first “Thor” film to this?
Hemsworth: Every film I look back and go, “Oh, okay, now I get it!” Then I start the next one and go, “Oh, I don’t have a clue what I’m doing.” It’s nice to be able to approach a character again for the third time, attack it in a different way with a different director, and have a whole new bag of ideas and influences ad ways to approach it. I grew up as a person as well, as you do through time, strangely enough, and so does Thor. That echoes into whatever you’re doing in your work. It was nice to have a more mature Thor who was less petulant and arrogant as a teenager, as the first one was at times. But that transition into him understanding the darker side of the throne and that responsibility and the sacrifices was fun to play with.
Q: Aside from being a big action movie franchise, these “Thor” films have a lot of heart and emotional drama? Is that dynamic what attracted you to this role in the first place?
Hemsworth: I remember (Anthony) Hopkins said something to me the first day on set on “Thor.” We walked in our outfits, and he had the eye patch and the whole thing, and he said, “Uh, no acting required here.” I always remember that and think, “Yeah, don’t compete with it. Keep it simple and it already sells a lot of the work for you.”
Hiddleston: The thing that I always think is grounding about these films is the family relationships. We’re traveling through space and time. We’re dealing with gods and monsters. But the heart of the film is a family: a father, two sons, two brothers, a mother, and the fractious intimate interaction they have.