Tom Hiddleston returns as villainous god Loki in "Thor: The Dark World." Credit: Getty Images
Tom Hiddleston has made a name for himself as Loki, Thor's brother and main nemesis, introduced in the first “Thor” then elevated to the main villain in “Marvel’s The Avengers.” With "Thor: The Dark World,” he seems to be more popular than ever. Hiddleston even put in an offscreen turn as Loki at San Diego Comic-Con this summer to delight fans during the Marvel presentation, though his character won't be appearing in "Avengers: The Age of Ultron." But that's fine by Hiddleston, who has plenty of other projects to keep him busy.
What was your honest reaction when director Joss Whedon told you Loki would not be in the second "Avengers" film?
My honest reaction was, "That's fine." I never wanted to overstay my welcome, and I've had such a good run with the character. I've enjoyed it so much. It was expected, to be honest, that Joss told me he wasn't going to put me in it. So yeah, my honest reaction was, "All right. Maybe it's time for me to play a few characters who don't have long black hair."
Between your turns at playing Loki, you've also been working in some independent films and a ton of Shakespeare. How do you approach jumping between so many diverse projects?
I honestly love doing them all, it's really true. I get so many different things from each. I've never wanted to impose limits on my work. Actors make the best choices they can in the moment, and quite often the way the picture is assembled it looks like there's been some grand master plan, but actually it's all very accidental. I just have a genuine love for it all. I suppose I've always wanted to be able to jump between things. I never wanted to be just the Shakespeare guy, and I certainly never wanted to be just the superhero guy or even the indie kid. I think the variety really keeps me sharp.
And you made “Only Lovers Left Alive,” Jim Jarmusch’s offbeat vampire film with Tilda Swinton.
I had a day between getting back from Tangier [for “Alive”] and starting on "Thor 2." The head shift was very quick. I finished with Tilda [Swinton], I flew back from Morocco, I put my clothes in the washing machine and the next morning I got up and I was in Asgard with Chris Hemsworth. And I love that. I love that that's what my life is. Here I am talking to you, then I'll go home and I'll start "Coriolanus." It's nice.
If you have to choose between looking at Tilda Swinton or Chris Hemsworth all day, which do you go with?
[Laughs] The dance is different, but I love dancing with both of them.
How long will "Coriolanus," your next stab at Shakespeare, keep you busy?
We open in December and it runs until mid-February, which is a wonderful time to be on stage in London, I think. "Coriolanus" is a fascinating prospect because it's [Shakespeare] writing it toward the end of his life. But he was writing for a younger man. It's about soldiery and politics and the difference between being someone who fights wars and being someone who makes decisions about fighting wars in the Senate. It's an amazing difference between kind of military integrity and political thinking. I'm genuinely geeky and nerdy about Shakespeare. He brings out the nerd in me — that's no secret, I think.
What's your take on the Shakespeare authorship debate?
I think there's a couple of really definitive arguments for and against, and I'd love to read them because Shakespeare's a genuine passion of mine. I've done five of his plays professionally and I'm about to do a sixth one. I haven't played Hamlet yet, but one day …