Long before Kate Herron directed Loki, the DisneyPlus Hotstar Premium series about the Norse god’s time-travel adventures, she, like many, was simply a massive fan of the character. She talks about working hard to land the Marvel job with to a 60-page pitch document, working with Tom Hiddleston and why it was important to acknowledge the character’s gender fluidity:
You’ve described yourself as a Loki superfan. Is there a specific scene or moment from the movies that made you fall in love with this character?
I would say Thor (2011), just because it’s the first time we saw the character. Loki has a lot of pain in that film and he doesn’t necessarily make the best decisions. It was so exciting because Tom Hiddleston grounded Loki in such empathy and even when he’s at his worst, you can’t help but root for him. That film sparked my interest in him. I love villains — I think you don’t necessarily have to agree with their actions, but you have to understand them. And I really understood where he was coming from. That film got me hooked and then I was excited to see how he changed and developed over the past 10 years, becoming more of an anti-hero and reconciling with his brother and his family. Well, at least some of them. Tom’s performance is just so exceptional and he’s had just 79 minutes (of screentime) across all the Marvel films, but, for me, he’s always stolen the show. So when I saw the chance to be part of Loki’s next chapter and spend six hours digging into the character, I was like, ‘I’ve got to be part of that.’
All caught up on #Loki yet? @ProjectSeestra speaks to director @iamkateherron on what a pitch to #Marvel involves & the Loki moment @twhiddleston came up with @LokiOfficial @DisneyPlusHS @Marvel_India pic.twitter.com/nnjF43UyeW
— Film Companion (@FilmCompanion) June 16, 2021
Can you walk me through what a pitch to Marvel entails? You’ve said you had a 60-page pitch document, what did that include?
It was this big PowerPoint presentation. It included why I love Loki and what the character meant to me. I’d been sent the script for the first episode and this outline for where the story was roughly going to go. I was so excited by the writing that I pitched ideas for what the Time Variance Authority could look like, for the other characters in the show, casting ideas, music, how it could look. Beyond that, it was just this massive thing about why I love Loki and why I was the right person to tell his story.
Tom Hiddleston has played Loki for a decade now. What did he bring to the set that wasn’t in the script?
So much. We had these fantastic scripts to work with but the thing with Tom is that he was an executive producer on Loki. So we’d do lots of rehearsals and talk about the characters and the story. No one knows Loki like Tom does. For example, some of the memories in the time theatre were pitches from Tom. He said, ‘I think we should see that moment when Odin says: I love you, my sons.’ He’s just been an amazing collaborator to the whole team. He’s the Loki encyclopedia so why not dig into that? He had such good inputs and such love for the character.
You’ve spoken about being drawn to themes of identity. Your previous show, Sex Education, is about teens figuring out who they are, Loki is not only about Loki finally acknowledging who he is to himself, but it’s the first time his gender fluidity is acknowledged. What aspect of his identity were you most excited to explore onscreen?
Every aspect. He’s gender fluid in Norse mythology and in the comics so it felt important to acknowledge it in the show and make it canon in the MCU. He’s such an interesting character across the comics, across the MCU. I don’t know why I’m so drawn to stories of identity, I just seem to keep chasing them. Maybe I’m trying to find my place in the universe. But this story was so interesting to me in terms of where Loki was going. We’re joining this character at the height of his villainy because this is the Loki from the first Avengers movie. Will he be the same? Will he not be? Nature vs nurture. We’re putting him in a new environment. He’s not going to be arrested and taken to Asgard. Instead, he’s in this bureaucracy, how is he going to react? How will he grow and change? So from a pure storytelling perspective, I was intrigued by that and Loki’s sense of self. Does he have free will or not? Is everything destined? There was just so much to get your teeth into.