‘Loki’ Star Tom Hiddleston on What He ‘Found Difficult’ Transitioning from Stage to Screen

Tom Hiddleston is arguably best known for portraying Loki in the Marvel Cinematic Universe — a character whose standalone Disney+ series is right around the corner. Yet, Hiddleston has also starred in Crimson Peak, Kong: Skull Island, Only Lovers Left Alive, and more. 

The actor is also quite the established stage performer. Before becoming a movie star, he led a couple of West End productions and some student-based plays. He starred in West End’s Cymbaline in 2007, played the title character in Chekhov’s Ivanov in 2008, and portrayed Cassio in Othello. The actor also made his Broadway debut in 2019 in Betrayal, opposite Charlie Cox and Zawe Ashton. 

Tom Hiddleston profile in tuxedo
Tom Hiddleston attends the “Manus x Machina: Fashion In An Age Of Technology” Costume Institute Gala at Metropolitan Museum of Art | Larry Busacca / Staff

During an interview with MTV News, Hiddleston compared stage and screen acting. Josh Horowitz asked about the two mediums, and the actor noted what he found “difficult” about transitioning from mostly stage work to mostly screen work. 

Tom Hiddleston talks about a play’s ‘consequential momentum’

Horowitz asked Hiddleston, “Is there something about the stage that lets you push yourself in areas that otherwise would rattle you?” Horowitz explained that he is “always amazed by the lengths actors can go, especially in a live environment.” Hiddleston shared: 

“What I love about a play, and it is unique to the theater, is this consequential momentum that you get across performing the whole thing.” 

When performing in a play, actors go through the entire production each night — working through the emotions tied to the rising action, the exhausting explosion customary of a climax, and all the epiphanies and lingering sentiments tied to a falling action. Yet, movies don’t exactly work that way. They don’t exactly yell “action” and film the entire experience chronologically. When playing a film character, the actors do not get to simply “live the experience.” 

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Hiddleston compared working in movies to working on stage 

Speaking on “consequential momentum,” Hiddleston explained that such doesn’t come into play as much with film. He said: 

“When I first started making films, I initially found that difficult, that you’d make a discovery in a scene, cut. And then it becomes a sort of construction site for half an hour. Trying to sustain an integrated psychological reality for the character so that if you’re doing…Let’s say the first Thor movie, for example, some of those sequences at the end of the film between me and Chris Hemsworth were seven or eight weeks apart, but in the movie, they’re next to each other. So, you’re like, ‘right, seven weeks ago, I was in this mood…”

In short, recalling one’s level of “emotional volatility” is not as easy when working behind the camera as it is on the stage, according to Hiddleston.