The Summer movie season officially kicks off this Friday with THOR, the latest super hero blockbuster based on the Marvel Comics hero! Thor was awesome (check out our review here!), and it follows the path set by Iron Man and The Incredible Hulk, building toward next Summer’s The Avengers, which will unite all the heroes together! We had the chance to interview the cast of Thor and director Kenneth Branagh before the premiere in Hollywood– check out these interviews with Kenneth, plus Chris Hemsworth (Thor), Tom Hiddleston (his evil brother Loki), and co-stars Idris Elba, Kat Dennings and Jaimie Alexander!
Chris Hemsworth is amazing the star of Thor, playing the titular God of Thunder. He’s teeming with charisma, on screen and off, and this movie’s going to catapult him onto the a-list! Here’s what he had to say when we sat down with him:
Bill: It’s definitely a big week for you, because not only is Thor coming out this Friday, but on top of that, I heard Cabin in the Woods just got picked up?
Chris Hemsworth: It did, I’ve heard the same thing, that Lionsgate will be taking care of it now. It’s very exciting because we shot that before Thor actually, and it’s been caught up in its own sort of business but now it’s coming out, which people are pleased to hear.
Bill: Definitely! I haven’t seen it yet, but from what I hear that was originally the movie that was going to be the star-maker for you.
Chris: Yeah (laughs) Thank you! It’s kind of a Benjamin Button effect, it’ll come out when Thor is out, so I’ll get younger as the next film [comes out], and then Red Dawn, which we shot years ago.
Bill: Nice. One thing I really had to know, with this movie, Thor was great– fantastic movie– but what’s the bigger ego trip, playing a super hero, or playing a god?
Chris: (laughs) They’re both kind of interesting, to get involved in. The trick for us was to try and justify that ego in some way, and work out the truth behind it, where did it come from… I think his motivation is he’s born into this success, this kingdom and he’s the prince of the universe. That’s certainly going to play with anyone’s sense of ego.
Bill: Absolutely. I know The Avengers has started shooting, have you done any film for that yet?
Chris: No, I start shooting in about a week or so. The rest of the guys are down there in Albequerque, I’m looking forward to getting on board.
Bill: You were on stage at Comic Con last Summer along with the guys, how’s it been meeting with Robert Downey and Chris Evans?
Chris: It’s great, we’re all really excited. They’re actors I’ve watched for years, and I’m really looking forward to not only getting on set with them, but also the characters they’re playing– Iron Man, Captain America, Hulk… I think it should be pretty iconic.
Bill: Cool! Between Thor now and a couple of years ago, you played James Kirk’s dad in the Star Trek remake… is it a coincidence, or do you dig doing these kind of nerd/ genre sort of movies?
Chris: (laughs) I’m a nerd, that’s right! You know, I love big epic fantasy stuff, especially ones that have a good, sort of truthful story or some heart to it. And I feel very lucky to be a part of them. You know, I audition for many different things, and those were the ones I got picked for so it hasn’t totally been up to me, in the decision making.
Bill: You were great in both of them, especially in Thor. A lot of people who see this are gonna ask, so I’m just gonna ask the question you’ll probably answer a million times today: how do you get into the “godlike” physique that you’re in, in the movie?
Chris: You get a good costume, and you also hit the gym, and eat a lot of protein. Very clean, strict diet, which is rather boring, and exhausting over six months, but I looked at the comics and the character was huge so I had to make an effort.
Bill: What’s it like to go into a store and see your face all over the place? Some people like Iron Man or Spider-Man at least have masks, but with Thor, there’s toys and stuff, and it’s just you, like three inches tall?
Chris: It’s kind of strange, whether it be the toys or the billboards and things, every time you see them there’s a sort of “oh my God” moment– what is that?? (laughs) And it’s very surreal and you have a bit of a laugh about it. I think having a sense of humor with it all is important. It doesn’t really make me feel any different about myself, but my friends certainly find it funny, that’s for sure!
Bill: Thanks a lot for sitting down with us! Once again, the movie was fantastic, and I think it’s gonna find a huge audience.
Chris: Absolutely! I hope so, thanks very much!
Tom Hiddleston plays Thor’s sinister brother Loki in the movie, and we had the chance to catch up with him as well:
Bill: We’re here with Tom Hiddleston, who plays our main villain, and one of the coolest characters in Thor, which comes out this Friday!
Tom Hiddleston: Indeed!
Bill: Your character Loki is definitely one of the more interesting in the comic book lore and also the movie now. One thing that was cool is, the way you played him, there was a sort of sadness to him. Loki’s a villain, but he’s a really sympathetic villain. That sadness wasn’t always part of the character, was that something you brought to the role?
Tom: It’s interesting you say that, because in all the runs of the comics that I read, initially there’s this horned man in kind of fishy scales cackling on the rooftops, so I knew I wanted to get that side of him in there. But the more research I did, the more I realized in all the stories that Stan Lee and Jack Kirby and J. Michael Strazynski and the comic book writers developed, Loki has a damage in him. Ultimately all his motivations– his credentials as a bad guy– come from a psychological complexity, a sense of being cast out in the cold. He doesn’t know who he is, in relation to his family. His brotherhood with Thor is something that’s quite interesting. I think he’s jealous and angry, lost and alone, confused and betrayed, and lied to, and Kenneth Branagh and I thought that was an interesting hook on which to hang all of his “bad guy” stuff.
Bill: It worked really well in the movie, he’s a really structured, really great villain.
Tom: Thank you!
Bill: What do you think would be his biggest issue? Because Loki has got several!
Tom: (laughs) Yea, Loki needs a lot of Prozac and a lot of therapy I think.
Bill: (laughs) Absolutely!
Tom: I think everyone on this planet, to a certain extent, wants to make their Mom and Dad proud, and I think with Loki– that’s a very interesting question, because– I don’t want to give too much away to people who haven’t seen the movie yet, but the parenting question with Loki is interesting.
Also, i think he’s jealous of his brother, he’s kind of second banana. He wishes that he was the one who was going to inherit the throne, and wishes he was going to be king, but he’s not– he’s second fiddle and always will be. The jealousy within him is then expanded when he learns a couple of hard truths about who he really is. It’s a Hell of a chicken soup, those issues there.
Bill: Loki seems to not appreciate what’s really cool about the character, too– whereas all the other Asgardians in the movie have these huge weapons and huge muscles and stuff, Loki doesn’t really carry a weapon typically, and what’s awesome is he uses his mind as the weapon…
Tom: Yeah, he’s fierce, that’s what I loved about the character. He’s someone with such a fierce intelligence, and a master of magic. If it all went well for Loki, he would be the most amazing right hand man for Thor, constantly out-thinking everybody, a brilliant and beautiful tactician. Unfortunately, the fierceness of his intelligence is coupled with his heartache and pain. He’s not someone you want to get on the wrong side of, basically, and Thor does, so cue a cosmic explosion!
Not everybody in Thor is a mythic God, what’s great about the story is Thor getting grounded in the “real world” as well. This is where he meets Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) and Jane’s assistant Darcy Lewis, played by the delightful Kat Dennings. Here’s what Kat had to say about her role in the film:
Bill: We just saw the movie last night, and it was awesome– it was really good.
Kat Dennings: Yeah!
Bill: I’ve been a big fan of you for quite a while, you’ve done some great work– I absolutely loved you in Nick and Nora’s Infinite Playlist…
Kat: Thank you!
Bill: What did you find different about doing a movie of this scale, because a lot of your other stuff has been smaller scale, more reality-based, and Thor is this huge fantasy epic?
Kat: I’m just lucky they hired me, I still can’t believe it! I always wanted to be in a Marvel movie, and Thor is kind of the ultimate super hero, because he’s not even just a super hero, he’s a god. If you’re gonna do a big one, do this one– do Thor! I’m blown away by the movie, and I knew it was gonna be good, but it was incredible! I was blown away when I saw it.
Bill: Nice! Was it cool to work with Kenneth Branagh directing?
Kat: Yeah, he’s an acting saint! He’s someone I always wanted to work with, and I didn’t think I ever would. I can’t believe it– the more I think about it– I’m so lucky!
Bill: Your character Darcy provides some awesome scenes of comic relief, what’s it like to be the funny character when you’re opposite people like Stellan Skarsgard and Natalie Portman?
Kat: Really fun, actually, because I, unlike everybody else, didn’t have to keep a straight face, and I could sort of say what I was thinking. Darcy’s kind of speaking for the audience, because if a huge, gorgeous dude in a cape comes up to you, you’re gonna be like “Oh my God! Who are you??” and I’m the person who gets to say that, so it’s lots of fun.
Bill: Darcy was hilarious, but she also did, like you said, ground the story really well. Were you bummed you didn’t get to interact with the fantasy/ Asgard side of things?
Kat: Yeah, I wish I could, but they were so sweet to me– they gave me tours of the Frost Giant sets and I got to see all the cool costumes… but yeah, maybe in the future, Darcy can go to Asgard, that would be hilarious! (laughs)
Bill: Fingers crossed, hopefully there will be a sequel, because it definitely deserves it, this thing’s gonna be a hit. It’s gonna be huge.
Kat: Yeah, I wanted more afterwards!
Bill: I went in expecting I was going to be excited to see The Avengers after this, but truth be told I think I’d be more excited to see a direct sequel!
Kat: Whoa, well at least it’s [The Avengers] like a supplement to this, and then you get to see everybody together– that’s really exciting!
Bill: One thing I’ve really gotta know– in real life, do you think you’d have the guts to taser a god?
Kat: Uh, yes!! Because I tased myself on set by accident!!
Bill: No kidding! So it was a real taser?
Kat: It was a real taser, and we were filming an insert on the last day, of my hands tasing Thor, and it bounced off– my aim is just really good– and it hit me.
(laughs) So… yes!! I’ve been through it, so I can definitely tase anyone!!
It takes a certain kind of badass to play the strongest female warrior or the gatekeeper of Thor’s homeland of Asgard, but both Jaimie Alexander and Idris Elba are certainly up to the challenge as the mythic warriors Sif and Heimdall. We sat down with both of them, and here’s the scoop:
Bill: Jaimie, your character Sif is a lot more action-oriented than some of the other characters you’ve played in the past. What’s different about training for a role, and doing a role that’s a warrior, instead of somebody more normal?
Jaimie Alexander: The training was a lot of lifting weights, running, stunt training, and making sure I was flexible so I didn’t break myself in half… but I loved it, and it’s such a big part of Sif, the physicality, so it was a lot of fun to get in shape for it.
Bill: Idris, your character, Heimdall, has a really distinct look, with the armor, and the glowing eyes and everything… was it easy to act in a really elaborate costume like that?
Idris: No, that helmet was HEAVY! (laughs) The sword was heavy, and it was 45 minutes to an hour to get the armor on, and once you’re in it, that was it, so it was really restrictive. My character doesn’t really emote, you don’t see him moving too much, he’s just really still, so I didn’t have to do much underneath that armor. The eyes were contact lenses which we designed, because my character can see all things and hear all things, so we wanted to do something with the eyes to make that bigger.
Bill: Yeah! Heimdall had my absolute favorite shot in the movie, where he’s standing on the rainbow bridge, overlooking the stars and the cosmos, I was like “wow, that is a great shot!”
Idris: The special effects in this film were amazing! (to Jaimie) Your fight sequence with the Frost Giants was wicked.
Jaimie: Yeah, it was a lot of fun!
Bill: How did you both come to your roles? Were you fans of the comics, or was it just something that came up?
Jaimie: I’m definitely a comic book fan. I didn’t know the whole story about Thor, so I had to go back and revisit it, but I auditioned, and my tape was sent to Kenneth in Sweden, awe had a Skype conversation, and I got the role… (to Idris) Unlike Mr. Elba over here!
Idris: (laughs) Kenneth gave me a phone call– I was at my house chilling– the phone rings and it’s Kenneth Branagh! I love Kenneth Branagh as an actor and a director, so I had a meeting with him and he told me about the role, and that’s how I got the job.
Bill: Well, it was nice to see you as a good guy role in the movie. I’m used to seeing you from The Office still, as the villainous Charles Miner–
Idris: No, no! Everyone got my character wrong on The Office, he was a good guy, he was a union guy– Charles Miner, a real worker!
Bill: Yeah, he seems a little by-the-book, and it doesn’t really synch with weirdo’s like Michael Scott, I guess. (Laughs)
What’s it like, having an action figure of yourself?
Jaimie: Oh my gosh, it’s awesome! I have four brothers back in Texas, so they’re pretty excited about it. And I have a mini-me now!
Idris: I haven’t even seen mine!
Jaimie: (to Idris) Yours is pretty epic, it’s awesome!
Idris: I have to go see that!
One of the reasons Marvel’s movies work so well is getting not only the right cast but also the best director for each film. With Thor, Kenneth Branagh joins the ranks of awesome directors such as Jon Favreau, Louis Leterrier, Joss Whedon and Joe Johnston. Despite his amazing career as both an actor and director, this is one of Branagh’s most mainstream films, which we discuss in the interview:
Bill: I’ve been a big fan for a long time now, on both sides of the camera– as an actor and as a director. One thing I noticed, especially with your direction, it seemed like there were a lot of elements of Shakespeare, which I know you’ve worked a lot in the past adapting, and have been a big fan of. Did you apply that to this movie?
Kenneth Branagh: It kind of happened naturally. Two million people just watched the Royal Wedding, so we’re interested in royal families, and in this case a troubled royal family– Shakespeare was always interested in those– it’s the stakes in the story, that Odin’s family, Thor, they run the universe. When they have ordinary family problems, like father and son butting up against each other, it affects the rest of the universe.
That’s the Shakespearian side of it, it allows Tony Hopkins’ performance and Chris Hemsworth’s performance to be very passionate when they take it that seriously, and then out from that very personal thing it can get epic, and you can go into outer space and the world of the gods. I think at the center of it there is a connection to great stories.
Bill: I loved how Asgard was envisioned as this really elaborate, sprawling and theatrical sort of place. I was really happy to see how much of that was in the movie. Do you think it was being hidden intentionally, it seems like the trailers made it seem like it would be much more grounded in New Mexico?
Kenneth: Interesting question! I think that we were always walking a fine line between stuff that could look kitschy and campy, that could be too broad with the humor… Every day across the nearly three years we’ve been working on it we had to strike that fine balance. In the comics you can’t get away from the idea– Asgard is on an asteroid on top of the universe in space– it’s an extraordinary place. The influences on the architecture come from the viking influence, the Roman empire, gladiator style influence, and they still have to look like they’re super technologically advanced.
That’s a lot for people to take in, I think, and the main thing is to let people understand that the glue that was going to hold all this together was humor, and Thor on Earth, and a human quality… and once in, maybe Asgard would come to them in a way that felt more acceptable.
Bill: You did a great job bridging that, and making this very much a part of the same world that’s been built in movies like Iron Man and The Incredible Hulk… How was it filming in 3D?
Kenneth: We in fact didn’t shoot in 3D, but we converted to 3D, so the 1,300-ought visual effects shots were re-photographed with left and right cameras in the computer, and the reason to do it was partly because I didn’t feel confident enough shooting in 3D– it’s very time consuming, and it’s for people clever-er than me.
But afterwards what i thought we could really develop what they call the “depth script,” which means you can compress the depth– give more or less depth– and you can find a way to do that that doesn’t make your eyes hurt. Doesn’t give you a headache. Sometimes when you shoot in 3D, that depth script is more jumpy, so I wanted to have more control, make it smoother, and have more time to work on it, so that’s why we did it in post production.
Bill: Once again, absolutely fantastic movie, it’s coming out in theaters this Friday, and I think you’ve got a huge hit on your hands!
Kenneth: Thanks ever so much!
Thor hits theaters everywhere this Friday May 6th, and it totally measures up to the other great Marvel comic movies! If you’re ready to kick off your Summer movie season with a bang, check out Thor this weekend! Maybe we’ll see you there!!