The actress talks to ET about the back-to-back success of her two very different TV series.
Over the last two years, Gugu Mbatha-Raw has starred in the back-to-back hits, Loki on Disney+ and the Apple TV+ original Surface, with both series being renewed for second seasons. The former will see her continuing to play Ravonna Renslayer in the otherworldly MCU spinoff while the latter will see her exploring Sophie's mysterious backstory as the thriller moves from San Francisco to London.
"I'm really grateful to be at a stage in my career, where [with] these shows, I have a sense of ownership over these characters and you get to go deeper into those worlds," Mbatha-Raw tells ET by phone about the success of both series.
Debuting over the summer, Surface saw the actress play Sophie, a married woman who has suffered a major head injury and subsequent memory loss after what is initially believed to be a suicide attempt. Over the course of season 1's eight episodes, viewers watched as she uncovered secrets about her husband, James (Oliver Jackson-Cohen), as well as sins of her own that may finally clue her in on her true identity and what led to the series' inciting incident.
Of course, Surface ended with several cliffhangers as Sophie made her way to London, where the new episodes will pick up the story in season 2. "It's gonna be invigorating to be in a different city and with a different energy," Mbatha-Raw says.
"It gives us a whole new fresh start on the show," she continues, explaining that "in season 1, San Francisco was this character in the show. You know, this beautiful noir backdrop. And I think [going to London] gives us so much scope for Sophie to kind of be heading to a slightly edgier, slightly darker world. And the danger that that presents, in terms of a new background for the show and a new world for her to explore."
Although there are a number of questions that still need to be answered, Mbatha-Raw teases that audiences will learn what has led Sophie down this road in the first place. "As we get to the end of the season, we discover that she crossed a whole ocean to step up this life and this facade, in many ways," she says. "The big question that propels us into the season, you know, is, 'Why is she like this? What's motivating her? And what was she running from in the first place?'"
No matter what, "We're really delighted that we get to kind of finish what we started," she says of delivering "a lot of things that are planted in season 1" by creator and showrunner Veronica West, who said she "can't wait for people to see how the show evolves as we explore an emboldened, fearless Sophie in season 2."
While that series prepares to go back in production, Mbatha-Raw has been busy filming new episodes of Loki, which is slated to return in the summer of 2023. "It's been amazing to shoot the second season of Loki," the actress says, adding that fans of the series "are gonna be in for a real treat because the show is bolder and more surreal. And in many ways, goes to some bigger, bolder places than season 1, which is really exciting."
After a twist-filled season, it was revealed that Ravonna is also a variant, prompting her to leave the Time Variance Authority in search of free will. "In Loki, Ravonna is a powerful presence," Mbatha-Raw says, adding in season 2, "selfishly, Renslayer makes it out of the TVA, which I'm really excited about."
For Mbatha-Raw, it's also been exciting to bounce between genres, "going from the Marvel Universe to a psychological thriller like Surface," she says.
"They're such different characters in such different worlds," the actress continues, noting what's been fun about returning to Loki -- and what she hopes is the same for Surface season 2. "The thing that I found with Loki's second season is everyone on the crew knows your character and I've never had that before, stepping onto a set where people already know your character. That's kind of a cool feeling. So, yeah, I'm looking forward to that for Surface."