Richard E. Grant Reveals Whether Classic Loki Is Gone for Good: 'How Do You Top That?' (Exclusive)
By John Boone
Richard E. Grant seems the ideal candidate to be conscripted into Marvel's cinematic universe: He's an Oscar nominee (Can You Ever Forgive Me?) who doesn't take himself too seriously (he's been in two Hitman's Bodyguard movies) and he's already on the Disney payroll (having joined the Star Wars franchise for The Rise of Skywalker). Yet, the actor says he and Marvel had never discussed his entrée into the MCU until Loki.
"I'd been in Logan, but that's completely separate," he told me over Zoom. "I'd joked on and off down the years with Tom Hiddleston, because of some vague similarity in the way that we look -- me, a much older version of course -- about working together as father and son in something. I assumed because I was asked to play Old Loki, I thought, 'Oh, this is the call finally,' because of the physical similarity. So, that's as much as I knew."
Grant made his Loki debut in the post-credits scene of episode 4 as "Classic" Loki, a Variant of our Hiddleston's God of Mischief who dons Loki's comics-accurate green and gold getup and ultimately goes out in a blaze of magical glory in the penultimate episode. Ahead of the Loki finale, Grant chatted with ET about answering Marvel's call, his one major complaint with his costume and whether Classic Loki is gone for good.
ET: Beyond you looking Hiddleston-y or him looking Richard E. Grant-y, what was it about this character in this story that you knew, "Yes, this is my part in the MCU"?
Richard E. Grant: Well, the key is in Old Loki, because being 64, I was older than anybody on the entire crew or cast. So, that was the clue in, I thought, "Old Loki, that's it -- I'm in the old age roles now."
What else were you told about him in that initial pitch? And was the costume part of it? Because it seems so much part of the character.
Yeah. And when the costume designer showed me my face on this costume that she designed and I saw the Jack Kirby drawings from the '60s, I thought, "Oh, great! As I have no muscles" -- as you can see -- "I'm finally going to be in a muscle suit. I'm going to have muscles like Tom has got!" And of course, I got there and I said, "Well, where's the muscle suit?" They said, "You don't have a muscle suit. This is what you're wearing." I said, "But this is like Kermit the Frog. There's no muscles. There's nothing here! How can I fight in Asgard?" [Laughs] "No, no, it's your magic that counts!" And I said, "Help me. Just give me the muscle suit," but they refused. So, I'm still sore headed that I was never given a muscle suit to fight Asgard as in all the drawings. I still don't really why they didn't do that, but maybe they wanted withered Loki. Who knows?
So, what was your reaction the first time you got all the garb on and saw yourself in the mirror?
Horrified, because I had no muscles! I was standing there like sort of a geek with these Y-fronts. I remember when I was a kid in the back of all the comics, they used to have these little drawing adverts with a skinny kid having sand kicked in his face. And they used to have these chest expanders, they said, "Send off for one of these chest expanders and you too could look like Thor!" Well, I never did, and I thought, well, finally, when I'm cast as Old Loki, this is going to be my chance. And damn, they took it away from me in that too. So I'm pissed at them for that.
How did Hiddleston react when he first saw you in it?
He said, "You have no idea what kind of response this is going to elicit when it comes out." I said, "That doesn't sound too positive or hopeful to me without the muscles, Tom." And he said, "No, no, believe me, I've been playing this part and there's a universe of people who are so obsessed and so ready to see Classic Loki. Be prepared for it." I didn't really take him seriously. I thought, "Well it's a TV series. How many people will watch this on a new channel?" Yada, yada. And how right he was looking into the crystal ball and how wrong I was, because since it came out last Wednesday, I have been absolutely flabbergasted by the response. My Twitter feed and Instagram have increased in vast numbers, and the response has been pretty astonishing. I'm amazed and grateful that it hasn't been negative so far.
I loved your post, by the way, about how your father would have reacted to this costume.
Well, he was right! I'm still at 64 earning my crust by wearing makeup and green tights. [Laughs]
I have to assume this was also your first time with an alligator as your scene partner?
It was. And in reality it was three stuffed cushions sewn together. Sort of fun to hold!
Alligator Loki is such a breakout star and I loved seeing the blue plushy you used on set. What was it like filming those scenes? Did it feel absolutely ridiculous?
No, because I was grateful. Very often you'd have dots or crosses or just a tennis ball on a stick to react to, so the fact that we actually had the soft cushioned shape of something alligator-like was a help. But it's just the nature of being an actor. You know that the CGI and the graphics and production design department, they come up with something amazing. What I didn't take on board is that, of course, he'd have these beautiful gold horns on top of his alligator sideways eyes. I love that. I've only seen the stills of it, but it looks amazing.
Your final moment in the episode is so powerful. I'll tell you, it brought tears to my eyes. On set, I imagine you're probably in front of a blue screen having to use your imagination. Tell me about capturing that emotion and how you and Kate Herron found that moment together?
The camera was on a big sort of jig crane thing that was at the highest section of the studio and I would follow a mark on that and they had, I think, three or four aircraft-sized wind machines blowing the Bajesus out of everything. And I thought, having wondered whether the helmets and the horns had to be quite so tight, I was grateful for them on that day because they did not move despite the amount of wind that was blowing at me. It was scripted to say, "He's laughing and shortly and cackling in the face of his own imminent, catastrophic death in the mouth of [Alioth]," it was very empowering to be able to just give it the full welly at doing that. So, I enjoyed that hugely.
You said you've only seen stills of Alligator Loki. Have you seen the episode yet?
So, you haven't seen how the scene looks with all the CGI yet?
I've seen stills that I'm holding up the city, so I've seen that. I have never got used to watching myself on screen. I love watching other people, but when I come on, I just-- I'm astonished that I get any work. So, I've learned decades ago just to never watch. So, when you see a still, you don't have the horror of your shortcomings to mull over.
Well, I will tell you, you looked pretty bad ass in that moment.
Good. Thank you, John!
This seems like the end for Classic Loki, but if this series has taught us one thing, it's that Lokis survive. Do you think we could see him again someday? And are you down to play him again?
As you just said, everything's possible. But I think that's because his sacrifice is so huge and it's going out with such a bang, how do you top that if he had to come back? I have no idea. You know, it's not within my arena to do that. But I wouldn't say no, if asked. Put it that way.
Loki's finale episode is streaming Wednesdays, July 14 on Disney+.