Entertainment

Loki becoming a full-time job for Hiddleston

Jim Slotek, QMI Agency
Tom Hiddleston (c) is seen on the set of "The Avengers" with fello cast members Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo and Robert Downey Jr. (Ivan Nikolov/WENN.com)

Tom Hiddleston (c) is seen on the set of "The Avengers" with fello cast members Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo and Robert Downey Jr. (Ivan Nikolov/WENN.com)

LOS ANGELES - It might be his Cambridge drama training, but Tom Hiddleston admits he tends to over-intellectualize, even when it comes to comic book villains like Loki in The Avengers.

"I saw quite clearly he has to be a bad guy, he has to be a villain. But it comes from such a place of psychological damage, of abandonment and loneliness and terrible spiritual desolation. That kind of thing easily switches to malevolence."

He pauses for a moment, as if giving himself a mental headshake, and adds, "Or he might just be bats--- crazy."

The God of Mischief, half-brother of Thor, has turned out to be something akin to a full-time job for Hiddleston, whose turn as a sensitive artist/soldier in Steven Spielberg's War Horse was "very cathartic after Loki.

"But that's the beauty of it. I believe we are born clean slates, and we all have a capacity to be nasty or noble. Acting is sort of a workout in playing with that. I always use Romeo and Iago as examples. One actor, in the space of a career, can play Shakespeare's greatest lover and his greatest sociopath."

Keep the dial set on "sociopath." Hiddleston played Loki in Thor (saying yes to the role before he was even aware that the God of Thunder would be joining Captain America, Iron Man, The Hulk, Black Widow and Hawkeye in a super-hero supergroup). After The Avengers hoopla dies down, he begins filming Thor 2 in the fall.

Classically-trained actors typically bristle if you suggest they're "slumming" in Hollywood blockbusters. Hiddleston's response is cheerfully erudite. The actor will soon be seen by Britons in three sets of TV mini-series based on Henry IV and Henry V. "Honestly, it's not as if I thought to myself that Henry V is the weighty project. Loki and Henry occupy the same weight in my imagination as an actor. Oddly enough they felt very similar. Quite literally both Prince Hal and Loki are princes, both born to rule, they both wear chain mail," he adds with a laugh.

But Henry V never found himself in a one-sided fight with The Hulk (one of the more talked-about moments in Joss Whedon's witty realization of the battle to save the world). "I hurt myself actually shooting it. I basically had to throw myself onto the floor repeatedly (Hulk CGI to be added later), which made Joss laugh hysterically. I had quite a bit of padding, but my elbows were exposed, and I actually hit my left elbow on the floor."

And he's also okay with upholding the tradition of British actors as consummate villains.

"The Devil plays all the best tunes and I'm so privileged to play him."