As the latest superhero flick, Thor: The Dark World, hammers (sorry) the opposition at the box office, FilmJuice’s Christa Ktorides caught up with its stars Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Natalie Portman, Kat Dennings and Christopher Eccleston to chat about the continuing appeal of Marvel, Thor and his Asgard chums …
Chris and Tom, after working together on three films together, do you trust one another … unlike the brothers you play?
Chris: Sure. There’s certainly a short-hand we have [developed] from this being the third film we’ve shot together now and a chunk of our shooting time is with one another, so we picked up where we left of … From the beginning we were lucky, we just had chemistry and the same kind of enthusiasm.
Tom: I love you man! It’s absolutely true. From Kenneth Branagh’s Thor … Joss Whedon’s Avengers Assemble and now 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, and the more you trust each other the deeper you can go, and whatever he serves I’ll return back. That is the joy of it.
How was it, Natalie, to get more involved in the Asgard side of events?
Natalie: It was exciting to get to come back and work with everyone again … Also because Jane gets to go to Asgard this time, I was lucky enough to get to work more with Tom and to have scenes with Rene [Russo] and Anthony [Hopkins] too. And it was also fun to continue the rapport with Kat [Dennings], Stellan [Skarsgard] and Chris [Eccleston]. There was definitely a lot of laughing. A little too much laughing.
Chris: [There will be some] interesting DVD extras on this one. It was brilliant to have Natalie there to break up the testosterone with the beautiful Jane.
Tom: 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 to see what happens when the two share the same space. Violence, as you see. That’s the first move.
Natalie and Chris, you recently called Britain the new Hollywood as a place to film in. How different is it to be in the UK?
Chris: The interesting thing about Hollywood is, I don’t know a lot of stuff that has been shot there now … it’s predominantly sets and studios. The nice thing about working here is there are incredible studios but also brilliant locations to take advantage of. I love the aesthetic of this film because … we see London and most [blockbusters] have New York or America as a backdrop. I love that difference, and I love shooting here.
Natalie: It’s hard to compare because we don’t really shoot in Hollywood at all. I love working here though, and I’m envious of British actors and British crews because American – and I guess Australian actors too – end up moving between cities all the time. Here, in London, you can really have a fulfilling, rich career in theatre, TV and film. It’s pretty cool to [be able to] make a living all in the same place.
Chris, people really love Loki. What do you think it is about him that people love, more over Thor?
Chris: Can I tell you what I love about Loki too? I don’t know if it was ever the plan to have Loki in this many films but it’s purely to do with everything that Tom brought to the table in the first one and how incredible he was. That mixture of strength and villainous mischief and vulnerability, which is such an access point, you can immediately empathise with him. It’s why he was kept being brought back. My hat goes off to Tom. He’s done an incredible job in every film and hopefully we’ll keep seeing him in more.
Tom: I love you man! I wanted to say in response that, I think Loki is defined by Thor. He’s defined in opposition. They are yin and yang. The whole point of them is they are in opposition. But the whole popularity of the character is such an amazing surprise. I never expected it in my wildest dreams and I find him a fascinating prospect because he’s a mixture of playfulness and 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 and bitter, jealous and angry and lonely. So it’s a cocktail of all of this psychological damage. As an actor it’s a really interesting thing to inhabit.
Chris, how do you feel you’ve grown as an actor through working on these films?
Chris: Every film, I look back and go ‘now I get it’ and I start the next one and go [shakes head]… It’s nice to, for the third time, take it in a different direction, and have a whole new bag of ideas and influences and ways to approach it. I grew up as a person as well, as you do through time, and Thor, echoes into the work you’re doing. It was nice to have a more mature Thor – less petulant and arrogant as he was in the first film at times. This shows the transition to the darker side of the throne; the responsibilities and the sacrifices.
In terms of the tone, the Marvel Cinematic Universe seems to be getting more and more fantastic, more out-there. I wonder if the humour in the film was a way to make things more ‘grounded’ – to make the events more ‘relatable’?
Christopher: My make-up call was about three o’clock. I was in the chair about four o’clock. Ten o’clock I hit the set, so I was not a happy elf! … But it’s interesting talking about the humour of the film. I saw it last week and was really surprised at the amount of humour because I’m such a miserable bastard. I was completely excluded from any of the joy [in the storyline]. My character was completely grounded in vengeance. He was like a maniac for revenge. The idea … was to suggest that the Dark Elves were as ancient a race as the Asgardians … and they had a grudge, which they had slept on for millions of years. What’s interesting about the film is that it does have a variety of tones and myself and Adewale [Akinnuoye-Agbaje] who played Algrim and Kurse, bring threat, menace and jeopardy. So we ground it in bitterness.
Natalie: Sure , the humour … but also the fact that the characters are going through, even though they’re travelling between realms, they are going through things that we can all relate to. For myself, playing the woman [pining for] the guy didn’t call back and disappeared, there’s a long-distance thing going on. It works out – she meets the parents! Those are all things that most women can relate to. I’m the mortal among the gods and villains near me, so I guess that’s naturally more grounded, but a lot of the issues that we dealt with were human. Even the brothers; I feel that that’s so relatable.
Chris: I remember Hopkins said something to me on the first day of set on Thor. We walked in in our outfits, and the sets, and he looked to me and said ‘There’s no acting required here’. I thought ‘Yeah, don’t compete with it’ keep it simple, and it already sells a lot of the work for you.
Kat: I think Darcy is maybe the most grounded person in the story. She’s spacey in her brain but she’s not in space. I think Darcy’s love for Jane, and my love for Nat, is a pretty easy way to stay grounded through the whole thing. I guess being the outsider of the craziness, being the audience for it.
People say conflict is drama and Malekith is the antagonist here. What’s the dynamic with Malekith, and what’s the point of that storyline?
Christopher: What is the point of my storyline? That’s what I said to my agent! The point of my storyline is for me to get paid! The point of my storyline, and I’m repeating myself slightly, it’s vengeance. There were some scenes which, for understandable reasons, didn’t make the final cut which explained a bit of the back story between me, my ancestors and Bor, who is Odin’s father. But basically the Dark Elves, before the Big Bang, were humiliated and ground into the dirt by Odin. Malekith has slept on that and [wants] vengeance. Somebody said ‘Let he who seeks vengeance be careful to dig two graves’ because it’s a pointless exercise. That’s it. My job was to bring a dark element, the dark world, that the Dark Elves are seeking to turn light into darkness. It’s really that simple and that classic, if you like.
Thor: The Dark World is out now.