The Supporting Cast of “Thor”

Of all the forthcoming superhero movies currently in production (and I’ve just about lost count at this point) “Thor” is far and away the most ambitious. The Norse God of Thunder, Thor, is banished to Earth as punishment for his arrogant ways. But the chiseled warrior soon finds his hands full when his evil brother Loki sends along a stream of dark forces from Asgard to invade Earth.

Directed by Kenneth Branagh, the massive ensemble cast includes Chris Hemsworth as the titular character, Tom Hiddleston as his mischievous brother Loki; Anthony Hopkins as Odin; Rene Russo as Frigga; Natalie Portman as Jane Foster; Stellan Skarsgard as Professor Andrews; Kat Dennings as Darcy and Clark Gregg as Agent Coulson.

Branagh and co. showed off the first footage at Comic-Con this year to overwhelmingly positive reaction. Though the project has been viewed with some level of skepticism up until now, the clip seemed to win over a few new fans.

After the footage, we sat down with Hiddleston, Portman, Dennings and Gregg to discuss their parts in the epic superhero flick.

“[Loki] is a very specific character and you can never think generally about playing the villain,” says Hiddleson. “You have to go, ‘Well who is this guy? What does he want? What is in his way?’ And the great thing about the answers to those questions with Loki is that they are nothing if not deeply complicated and conflicted. I think there is a deep love for his family within him. He loves Odin and Thor and Frigga, but at the same time he wants to destroy them all. That duality was fascinating to play.”

Loki and Thor’s relationship seems to bring the idea of sibling rivalry to a whole new level. “Without revealing too much, there is a huge trigger halfway through the film when there’s a reveal to Loki and to the audience about his true lineage,” Hiddleson tells press. “Maybe he’s not as closely related to Thor as he might have once thought. And that news triggers what jealousy was hidden within him into a kind of cancerous rage. Out of a sense of betrayal he wants to destroy his brother.”

Portman plays Jane Foster. More than just a love interest for the godly hunk, Foster has other plans for Thor. “My character is working on this theory of connecting dimensions,” explains Portman. “There was an Einstein theory long ago where you could connect dimensions through the warping of time and space. Thor obviously comes from another dimension, so he is sort of the missing piece to her scientific inquiry. And everyone thinks she’s sort of on the fringe of science, that she’s this kook, so this is her opportunity to prove herself.”

Dennings says her character doesn’t get in on the action much, serving more as comic relief. “I had read my brother’s comics growing up, so I felt pretty well versed in this one,” says Dennings. “[But] I pretty much just had to sit there and eat chips and be cool.”

When Clark Gregg portrayed Agent Phil Coulson in the first “Iron Man”, he thought the part would be a one-time deal. But after reprising the role in “Iron Man 2”, “Thor” and now “The Avengers”, he’s getting very well acquainted with the character. “Someone just suggested that I could play Agent Coulson’s grandfather in Captain America,” says Gregg. “I’m going to be pitching that hard at dinner. “It started out as nothing, a couple of scenes in ‘Iron Man’, and it just became a better role. And now every time they call I’m like, ‘Really, I get to do this guy again?’ They peel back more layers and he’s got interesting stuff to do.”

“One of the many cool things about my job is Agent Coulson is he’s one of the only characters that is not in the comics. He was invented for ‘Iron Man’, which is another reason why I can’t believe I’m still in these things. But they just put out an Agent Coulson comic, which is now the wallpaper of my house. So there’s free license there. He’s whatever they want to evolve him to be. I’m lucky because they’ve found out that they need a character who’s connected to the real world to help bring all of these characters together.”

When asked how Coulson’s part in “Thor” connects to “The Avengers”, Gregg gives his take while carefully sidestepping specifics. “Thor’s an origin story, so obviously a hammer is in New Mexico in a giant crater and Nick Fury is otherwise engaged. So it’s Agent Coulson’s job to show up and investigate that. And I don’t think he knows, going into New Mexico, anything more than that. It kind of wreaks of superhero to me, the giant hammer in the perfectly symmetrical crater. And I think that, by the end of this movie, it becomes clear that this is very much in line with what S.H.I.E.L.D. is in existence for. Any more than that, I’m too scared to talk about.”

Thor opens nationwide May 6th, 2011.