By Brian Truitt
The past few weeks, Tom Hiddleston has gone from Times Square in Seoul to Times Square in New York City, with people showering the star ofThor: The Dark Worldwith gifts, chocolates, artwork and, yes, requests for dance moves.
He has a knack for playing a popular god of mischief on the big screen, but he's not too bad at doing the Running Man dance, either.
"I never expected that Loki would be the opportunity I got to show off whatever small talents I have at organized flailing, but it's been that moment," Hiddleston, 32, says with a laugh. "Loki's dancing his way around the world."
After giving Chris Hemsworth's hammer-wielding title hero trouble in twoThormovies - including theDark Worldsequel, out Friday - and chewing up scenery while invading Manhattan in last year'sThe Avengers,Hiddleston has cemented his place as a rising star in Hollywood.
He continues his hot streak with appearances in Jim Jarmusch's 2014 vampire romanceOnly Lovers Left Alive;Guillermo del Toro's creepyCrimson Peakfor 2015; and next year'sMuppets Most Wanted, in which he plays the Great Escapo.
"I worked with the man himself, Kermit the Frog. I've peaked - it's downhill from here," Hiddleston says.
The London-born, Shakespeare-trained actor originally auditioned to play the beefy Thor for the first movie, but instead, he impressed the Marvel Studios brain trust enough for them to cast him as Loki.
Part of his success is feeling very at home with a strong sense of theatricality, saysTheDark Worlddirector Alan Taylor. "He can seem vulnerable and make you reach out to him, and then he can seem cold as ice."
For the record, Hiddleston's best role - at least according to his mother - was the goodhearted British cavalry officer Capt. Nicholls in 2011'sWar Horse. He's pretty much the opposite of Loki, the actor says, and when Hiddleston's mom saw the movie with him, "she looked across and said, 'That's my boy.' "
His family really likes Loki, too, Hiddleston says, and they see in the trickster character his inherent playfulness.
"When Loki's having a good time, my sisters recognize me being mischievous when I was a kid, and they find that very amusing," he says. At the London premiere ofThe Dark World, "Mom rolled her eyes at my exhibitionism mostly, which I find really endearing."
They've also enjoyed watching him gallivant around the globe as a showman with gusto and live large by showcasing some modern soft shoe at a crowded mall before 7,000 screaming South Koreans.
"They know that I'm like this," Hiddleston says of his loved ones. "It was perhaps only a matter of time before I cracked open the box of dance moves from the '90s disco attic."