Loki is set to wrap up its first season on Wednesday with the sixth and final episode, following a penultimate fifth episode that introduced us to the mysterious world at the end of time — dubbed The Void — and a bunch of other Loki time variants. Among the latter was Classic Loki, an incarnation of the God of Mischief that hewed very close to the character’s visual origins from the Marvel Comics. The Eswatini-born English actor Richard E. Grant filled the boots of Classic Loki on Loki episode 5, fulfilling the hopes, rumours, and dreams of Marvel fans who had speculated for months that Grant had been cast to play an older Loki. But how did it happen?
“I had seen and known Tom [Hiddleston] socially over the last decade or so, and we’d always joked about wanting to work together,” Grant told Gadgets 360 over Zoom on Monday. “And certainly, play father and son in something because we have similar hair lines, and he’s very tall and slim, and I seemed like a good match. So, when I was sent the script and asked would you do an episode of Loki playing Classic Loki with Tom, I jumped at it. It was a decision that took about four nanoseconds to make. ‘Yes, of course.’”
And though Grant didn’t end up playing Hiddleston’s father on Loki, the role did make the 64-year-old actor think of his own father. Last Friday, a couple of days after Loki episode 5 dropped, Grant took to Twitter to share a funny snippet about what his father said to him four decades ago. Grant was just 24 when his dad died at age 53.
“When I told him that I really wanted to spend my life being an actor professionally, he said, ‘Do you really think that you can make a living doing this?’ He was very worried about that, understandably, because the unemployment rates for actors are so traditionally high. And he said, laughingly, ‘Do you also want to spend your life wearing make-up and tights?’ And I said, ‘Dad, majority of the parts, you won’t have to do that.’ Well, here I’m at 64 talking to Akhil, and having to say yes, I am wearing tights and I am wearing a minimal amount of makeup. So, you know, he was right, I owe him one. But I have earned a good living doing it, I feel, so he’d be relieved about that.”
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Grant’s Classic Loki costume — replete with the iconic horns — has been a hit with the audience since Loki episode 5 dropped, though there’s one “great disappointment” in the actor’s mind. When he was first sent a drawing of himself in the costume, it showed him with muscles, something Grant was excited about because he self-admittedly was born without any. So, when he got to Atlanta for the costume fittings, he thought he was going to be put in a muscle suit. Alas, that was not to be the case. As Loki episode 5 has made it clear, the Classic Loki costume is just Grant in tights.
“So that is my great disappointment that I never got to have those. Anyway, it worked out, and it was a hugely enjoyable job to do,” Grant added. Classic Loki was seemingly killed off towards the end on Loki episode 5, but death has never stopped Marvel from pursuing something. Would he return for the yet-to-be-confirmed Loki season 2? Grant has no idea, he said, but he’s open to all offers.
More importantly, not having muscles fits the journey of Classic Loki. Earlier in Loki episode 5, he reveals that after tricking Thanos with an illusion and faking his death, he spent years by himself on a planet at the edge of space, realising that all he did was cause pain and suffering in the world. He labels himself the God of Outcasts.
“And I thought that is absolutely key to, I suppose, emphasising how lonely he is, that is essentially what gets him arrested by the [Time Variance Authority] because he longs for company,” Grant told Gadgets 360. “And that’s what brings him back out of isolation.”
The Marvel series has drawn comparisons to the British sci-fi series Doctor Who — as someone who’s been involved in both projects, Grant thinks there is indeed something common between the two, though not on the levels that others have been pointing out.
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“Gender fluidity is something that’s in both of them, right, and this endless ability to reinvent, and to come back,” Grant said. “Which seems to be innate in all human beings. We would love to be able to reinvent ourselves or to live eternally or certainly to live along within the time span that we have in our life. So, I think that’s why these characters in these universes have such a deep appeal to us. It goes right back to your childhood that you can open a door and go into a phone box or go through a portal. And somehow, you’ll be somewhere else. It’s what we’ve done since we were kids, walking under a table with a piece of fabric and going, ‘Now I’m somewhere else. Now I’m invisible.’ I think that’s just innate in us.”
For Grant, his brief time on Loki continues his journey through sci-fi and comic book franchises. Unexpected, given the 64-year-old classically-trained actor has spent the majority of his acting career in indie titles, from his debut in the 1987 black comedy Withnail and I to the award-winning turn in the 2018 biopic Can You Ever Forgive Me?. But in the past five years, Grant has also had roles in the fantasy epic Game of Thrones, the X-Men film Logan, culminating chapter Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker, and now, the Marvel Cinematic Universe with Loki.
“I think that I know very few actors that can say they’ve planned out their career,” Grant said. “It is literally opportunities as they’ve come, and I’ve taken them, so that’s how it worked out, there’s no master plan here whatsoever. I wish that there was.”
Is there anything left on his bucket list though? “Oh my goodness, yes, I’d like to have muscles in the muscle suit. That’s what I would like,” Grant added with a laugh.
Loki is streaming on Disney+ and Disney+ Hotstar worldwide. In India, it is available in Hindi, Tamil, and Telugu on Disney+ Hotstar VIP, and English on Disney+ Hotstar Premium.