The Virtuoso Villain

By Adam Markovitz
Updated August 02, 2013 at 04:00 AM EDT

”Let’s not put too fine a point on it: Before Thor came out, nobody knew who I was,” says Tom Hiddleston, 32, a lanky Brit who was working steadily on TV and the stage in the U.K. when he landed a career-making part as the evil Norse god Loki in the 2011 hit. Fans geeked out over the real-world gravitas he brought to the comic-book part, and after reprising the role in The Avengers (not to mention giving a sterling turn as F. Scott Fitzgerald in Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris), Hiddleston knew he had to kiss anonymity goodbye. ”I was going through the security machines at Heathrow, and the guard’s eyes went wide, and he said, ‘Oh my God, it’s Loki!’ Then the whole line turned around. It turned into Comic-Con,” he recalls. ”But I always say, an actor cannot call himself an actor without an audience.” He won’t have trouble attracting one of those anymore: Hiddleston is back as Loki in this fall’s Thor: The Dark World and will star in Jim Jarmusch’s vampire saga, Only Lovers Left Alive. But lest big-screen stardom get the best of him, he’s returning to his thespian roots as the lead in a West End production of Shakespeare’s Coriolanus in December. ”It’s been about five years since I’ve been on stage,” he says. ”I think I just need to go back and get sharp.”