‘Loki’: Tom Hiddleston on Mastering the Art of Time Slipping
Loki’s “had a really, really bad day and the day is getting worse.”
The good news is that Loki has been able to find some familiar faces at the Time Variance Authority — and they recognize him, too! The bad news? He can’t stay in one place for very long because his entire body is constantly being sucked through time and space across The Multiverse due to a pretty painful-looking phenomenon called “Time Slipping.” Didn’t think it could happen in the walls of the TVA? Well, think again, because it’s happening to Loki.
The second season of Marvel Studios’ Loki kicks off with the God of Mischief trying to get a grip, literally, on the timeline as he struggles to stay in one place long enough to have an actual conversation with Mobius. Unfortunately, because Loki has been thrust across The Multiverse timelines repeatedly, he keeps popping in and out of places, both past, present, and future as he races to not only steady himself but also keep the TVA from imploding from an overloading Temporal Loom, too. Just another day at the office, huh?
“Loki is having a problem which is that he’s in space, but he’s not rooted in time. He’s essentially glitching and being involuntarily molecularly disassembled between different points,” Returning star Tom Hiddleston explains. “It’s incredibly disorienting because he doesn’t know where he is or which time he’s in and it becomes like a mystery or a riddle that he’s got to solve. Why is this happening to me?”
Essentially, as Hiddleston jokes, Loki’s “had a really, really bad day and the day is getting worse.”
Though it looks scary on-screen, don’t worry, Hiddleston isn’t really getting torn apart molecule by molecule. As he explains, “This is where I’m embarrassed to say that in my limited carpet bag of physical abilities, I can’t in fact Time Slip.” However, the actor did commit to making Time Slipping look as painful as possible for the camera, constantly contorting his body to create uncomfortable situations, at one point considering using actual ropes and cables on wires to move his body in different ways.
“Tom is one of the most, if not the most, dedicated performer I've ever seen” Executive Producer Kevin Wright explains. “It wasn't that it wasn't painful in the script. We knew what, functionally, it was doing in the story. As everybody starts to get in the room, you have to start having those conversations of what is this? How do we see it on screen? What does it become? It kind of came about just through Tom's process.”
Hiddleston got maybe a little too into the process of Time Slipping. “I’ll do different variations of being spun into or spun out or ripped away from or pulled into reality.” He continues. “I’ve found that trying to put my own body under tension is strange to do. Your body doesn’t want to be under stress, it wants to be comfortable but that feeling of as if you’re being twisted out of alignment like a piece of elastic tor tearing and ripping, that’s the hard thing.”
All of this would eventually be sent to VFX to mesh it all together, and as Wright explains, Hiddleston, “Took it upon himself to be like, I want to be every single element in that VFX. So, if he's slipping, it’s the character conceptually being in six different places at once. He wanted to play all six of those performances, and then VFX will stitch them together.”
The countless takes of Time Slipping were worth it, though, because “It gave VFX and sound and everybody stuff to work with, where it's just making it even more gruesome and pulling tendons.” Wright adds. “You have all these elements of vocals, the stretching, bones cracking. We'd turn them up and turn them down, depending on the slip. But it was more about making it a bespoke performance, each one of those slips.”
Hiddleston praises VFX crew working behind-the-scenes on Loki who made the Time Slipping look seamless, removing certain frames, and adding them in a quick succession so it really looks like his body is being ripped apart. “A kind of very intense visual effects sandwich,” he jokes, “I take my hat off to the visual effects team for helping me out because it’s been a more physical [process] than I thought it was going to be.”
Editor’s note: The following interview was conducted before the SAG-AFTRA strike began on July 14, 2023.
For all time, always! Loki Season 2 arrives on the timeline at 6:00 PM PT on Thursday, October 5 exclusively on Disney+. All subsequent episodes will also be available starting Thursdays at 6:00 PM PT.
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