Thor: The Dark World is one of the most anticipated films of the autumn and sees Phase 2 of Marvel movies continues.
Chris Hemsworth is back in the title role while Tom Hiddleston, Natalie Portman, Anthony Hopkins and Idris Elba will also be returning.
Hemsworth, Hiddleston, Portman, Kat Dennings, Christopher Eccelston, director Alan Taylor and Kevin Feige were in London for the global press conference to talk about the film.
- Trust is a prevalent in the film between Thor and Loki and I was wondering how the two of you work together now that you have done a number of films together? Were you free to experiment because there is that trust between you?
Chris Hemsworth: There is certainly a shorthand that we have together because this is the third film that we have done together: you do spend a chunk of your time getting to know each other. We picked up here we left off and we have developed a great friendship along the way.
From the beginning, we were lucky because we had this chemistry and the same kind of enthusiasm: this is the relationship. I really look forward to delving into every time and being able to ask the questions that Thor and Loki haven’t had the acute focus to do so yet; this instance was a great opportunity that we had.
Tom Hiddleston: I love you man. It is absolutely true. From the beginning of Kenneth Branagh’s Thor, through Joss Whedon’s Avengers and into Alan Taylor’s The Dark World, it has been an amazing adventure for all 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. When I am on set with Chris, whatever he serve I return and he serves it back: that is the joy of it for me.
- Chris, you have two brothers and I was wondering if you drew on your relationships with them for your interactions with Loki? Is there competition between the Hemsworth brothers?
Chris Hemsworth: None of them have tried to take over the universe just yet: I think I would have the same reaction if they did. We are competitive in everything from sport, back-yard cricket, surfing to who is controlling the remote control when we are watching TV.
However, in this industry not so much as all three of us understand the frailty and the inconsistency of the work. We help each other with auditions, and always have, and whatever scripts we are working on. We are not in direct competition and it is more like a team effort than anything else.
The scene where they are in the sky-ship exiting Asgard, Tom and I were pretty insistent that it had to feel like when you are in the backseat with your siblings – we couldn’t get a hundred meters down the road before the three of us are like ‘Get off me. Don’t touch me.’
So those ideas certainly played into that scene. You understand what it is like to have that love/hate thing: you would do anything for them and yet the simplest things annoy you. Certainly, I did try to draw on experiences that I have been through and could empathise with the frustration towards one’s sibling.
Tom Hiddleston: I have two sisters and so it is slightly different. I suppose the thing about siblings is they know you better than anyone and there is that thing of always being bound together. There is something very honest about your interaction with them; you cannot lie in front of your siblings.
In this film, I love that Thor is able to demand from Loki that he play his hand. Loki is someone who is constantly in control and is someone who will never show you how he feels: the only person who gets close to him is Thor, and that seems very true to sibling relationships.
I absolutely second the spaceship scene. I have actually been on a road-trip with Chris and Liam and it was similar…
Chris Hemsworth: (Laughs) ‘You are the worst driver’
Tom Hiddleston: It was none stop. But if you spend time with Luke, he will just knock their heads together and say ‘shut up boys’.
Chris Hemsworth: Yeah, he is the older brother and runs the show.
- In the first film, Jane Foster was very much a spectator and yet in this film she is right there in the middle of Thor’s world. How much was that something that excited you about coming back? Chris & Tom how great was it to have a beautiful third wheel to your partnership?
Natalie Portman: It was exciting to get to come back and work with everyone. Because Jane gets to go to Asgard this time I lucky enough to get to work with Tom and to have scenes with Anthony Hopkins and Renee Russo: they were amazing and I got to admire from afar. Also, continuing the fun rapport with Kat (Dennings) and Stellan (Skarsgard) and Chris – there was definitely a lot of laughing on set: maybe too much laughing.
Chris Hemsworth: There will be some interesting DVD extras. It was brilliant to have Natalie there and to break up the testosterone of Thor and Loki with the beautiful Jane.
Tom Hiddleston: I loved working with Natalie. In the first film, Loki is aware of Jane Forster’s presence, but it was so fun to see what would happen when the two shared the same space: violence, as you will see.
- A lot of this film is shot in London so I was wondering how different is it filming in the UK compared to Hollywood?
Chris Hemsworth: The interesting thing about Hollywood is… not a lot of stuff is shot there now but once upon a time it did… but it is predominately sets and studios. There are incredibly studios here but there are brilliant locations to take advantage of. I love the aesthetic this film has as you get to see London: most of these films are set with New York or American cities as the backdrop. I do love shooting here.
Natalie Portman: I would echo Chris. It is hard to compare because we don’t shoot in Hollywood. I do love working here and I am envious of British actors and British crews – American and Australian actors are like gypsies moving from different cities all of the time – you can really have a fulfilling, wonderful and rich career in the theatre, TV and film in London: that would be pretty cool to work and live in the same place.
- Marvel has used London a lot in their movies so will you be coming back in the future? And what is about London that you like?
Kevin Feige: There is a tax incentive that lures studios here; I don’t want to pretend that that is not the truth. What keeps us coming back are the amazing crews. We are starting our fourth film here next year in Shepperton and it really has been an amazing experience.
- Tom, if Comic Con is anything to go by people really do love Loki so what do you think it is about this character that people really do seem to love – perhaps more over Thor?
Chris Hemsworth: Let me tell you what I love about Loki. I don’t think that it was ever the plan to have Loki in this many films but, purely to do with everything that Tom brought to the table in the first one, how incredible he was and the mixture of strength, villainous, mischief and vulnerability is just such an asset.
You can immediately empathise with this misunderstood guy. My hat goes off to Tom as he has done such an incredible job in every film: hopefully we can keep sneaking him in more.
Tom Hiddleston: I love you man. I want to say in response to the second part of your question, that Loki is defined by Thor: they are Yin and Yang and the whole point of them is that they are in opposition. The popularity of the character is such an amazing surprise: I never expected anything like this in my wildest dreams.
I thought he was a fascinating prospect because he is a mixture of playfulness, charm and mischief, and yet he is broken character: he is grief-stricken, bitter, jealous, angry, lonely and proud. He is a cocktail of all of his psychological damage and, as an actor, he is just a really interesting character to inhabit.
- While this film is darker than the first, how important was it to find the right balance between the darkness and the humour?
Alan Taylor: I felt my first task was to darken the world, and deepen it, and dirty it up a bit. And then as we got into the process, I thought, if we're going to darken it, deepen it and possibly kill off characters we love, we better be darn sure there's balance on the other side.
The Avengers came out while we were starting it and Iron Man 3 came out while we were finishing it, so you were screwed if you don't also keep it funny and light on its feet. It's called The Dark World, but humour was critical on it. The first thing that we shot was Stellan Skarsgard running around Stonehenge in just a thong: he never batted an eyelid.
- Is there a lot of improvisation on a movie like this?
Kat Dennings: There was a little bit of improve. I am on a show in the States that allows no improvisation whatsoever, so when I was told that I could do that I really didn’t know what to do: I think ‘banannaballs’ came out of that. I was very happy to do that. But you guys gave Darcy some awesome things to say and do.
- We have seen Thor develop hugely from the first movie to this, so how do you feel that you have developed as an actor during that process? This is one of the shorter Marvel films so I was wondering what the editing process was like?
Chris Hemsworth: Every film I look back and go ‘now I get it’ and then I start the next one and go ‘I don’t have a clue what I am doing’. It is nice return to a character for the third time and tackle it in a different way and with a different director as they brings a whole new set of ideas and influences.
I think I have grown up and I think that that echoes into your work. It was nice to have a more mature Thor who was less petulant and arrogant: as he was in the first film at times. That transition of him understanding the darker side of the throne and the responsibility and the sacrifices was fun to play.
Alan Taylor: There are so many obligations to a movie like this. It has to be dark and emotionally engaging. It also has to be funny and constantly earn its entertainment value and part of that process is condensing and tightening and making it roll along as quickly as it can so that it is as fun a ride as it can be.
Naturally some things fall out that you wish didn't fall out," said Taylor. "Some things dear to my heart that I love… Chris Eccleston and I were talking about some things that we really savoured that had to fall away. I'd be really grateful if some of those appear on a DVD or Blu-ray at some point.
Kevin Feige: I think there's about ten or maybe twelve minutes of footage on the Blu-ray.
Alan Taylor: This was my first experience of making a movie while the internet watches: I had a little bit of it when I was on Game of Thrones but nothing prepared me for this. There was a rumour about a running time argument. And it was funny because I don't think anybody that I knew - my editors, you (Kevin Feige) me… I don't even know how long the movie was.
There was never a 'running time' issue. It was always 'how can we make it better, funnier, more effective, how can it land harder. So in that process some of my children had to get murdered and put on the floor, but I'm sure they'll have an afterlife.
- The Marvel universe is getting more fantastic and more out there, so I was wondering how the actors grounded some of that to make it more palatable while staying true to the characters?
Kevin Feige: Humour was definitely the key. We have got spaceships in this movie and other worlds in this movie, and yet we found that humour was an amazing way for the audience to just embrace all those worlds, craziness and costumes. It has worked well for us since the first Iron Man film.
Christopher Eccleston: It is interesting talking about humour as I saw the film last week and I was surprised at the amount of humour: I am a miserable bastard and was completely excluded from any of the joy. My character is completely grounded in vengeance; he was like a maniac for revenge.
The ideas from Alan and Kevin were to suggest that the Dark Elves were as ancient a race as the Asgardians, so we were able to give them a language and a culture. However, most of all they had a grudge that they had slept on for millions of years.
The job of me and Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, who plays Algrim and Kurse, was to bring the threat and the jeopardy. So we grounded it in bitterness.
Natalie Portman: The fact that the characters – even though they are travelling through realms, they are going through things that we can all relate to. For myself, I am playing woman where the guy didn’t call back, he disappeared, there is this long distance thing going on and the she meets the parents: those are things that a lot of women can relate to. Many of the issues that they were dealing with were human – even the brothers I feel like that is so relatable.
Chris Hemsworth: I remember Anthony Hopkins saying something to me when we first walked on set on the first Thor film – we were in our outfits and he had the eye patch – he just looked at me and said ‘there’s no acting required here’. I have always remembered that and thought ‘don’t compete with that just keep it simple’.
Tom Hiddleston: I suppose, the thing that I always thing is grounding about these films is the family relationships. We may be dealing with gods and monsters, but at the heart of the film is a family: a father, two sons, two brothers, a mother and the fractious interaction that they have.
Kat Dennings: Oh my god. I think that Darcy is probably the most grounded person in the story. I think Darcy’s love for Jane and my love for Nat is an easy way to stay grounded with the whole thing. I get to be the outsider to all of the craziness and comment on things that the audience would.
- Marvel movies have enjoyed some huge success and it seems that you do have a really good strategy – not just on the big screen but on television as well. How far ahead are you looking ahead?
Kevin Feige: We are a very tight knit group as a studio and so all of the movies are very co-ordinated. We have announced films through to the end of 2015 but we are planning as far out as 2017: sometime next year we will be announcing what those films are.
The TV division is up and running now and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is their first series – I know that they would like to do more. I am not sure what and when that will be. In term of S.H.I.E.L.D. they go key off what is happening in the movies, and occasionally check in with us and go ‘would it be ok if we played with this?’ It is quite co-ordinated and we have a lot of fun.
- Malekith is the enemy in this and so while Loki is seen as the enemy he is not the protagonist. Deep down to you think that he is really evil?
Tom Hiddleston: It is a question that I have asked myself three times. Every villain is a hero in his own mind and people make choices and they always justify those choices, no matter how misguided their motivation. The great privilege and thrill for me to play this character across three films, is that he didn’t start out that way.
The narrative that was afforded to me in the first was of this young prince who is brought up believing in his right to a throne and his Asgardian inheritance: but this whole story is a lie and he was adopted. That is what breaks his heart.
All of his villainy and his bad guy credentials come from something deeply vulnerable. Across Thor, Avengers and The Dark World I can play a dynamic with Chris and with Anthony Hopkins and Renee Russo, which is, to what extent is he redeemable? Can he be brought back towards the light? It is a very fun fault-line to dance on.
Chris Hemsworth: Yeah, what Tom said. That is exactly it, well done. How do you know so much about this?
Thor: The Dark World is released 30th October.