Sophia Di Martino was launched into the pop cultural consciousness thanks to her role as Sylvie – AKA the Loki variant on Marvel Disney Plus series Loki, where she trades barbs and shares background stories with Tom Hiddleston’s God of Mischief.
Episode Three of the series found Loki on a wild adventure with Sylvie, after he accidentally sent them both to the doomed moon Lamentis-1, on a collision course with a planet. Facing an apocalypse, the pair hatches a plan to find the escape vessel that some of the moon’s wealthier residents are hoping will carry them to safety and, while on the train to the ship, they discuss everything from the nature of love to their respective magical abilities.
When the opportunity arose to talk to her, we naturally jumped at it, so here is part of Chris Hewitt’s conversation with Di Martino, who was frank and funny while chatting about getting the job, Loki’s sexuality and more.
The last two weeks in particular must have been a heck of a whirlwind for you. What’s it been like being at the centre of the storm?
It’s been a strange one. Because I feel like I’ve been waiting in the wings for quite a while. And I haven’t been able to talk to anyone about this until today. So, it’s been a really strange few weeks, just watching the show start and listening to people’s reactions, but not being able to talk about it. I don’t feel like I’ve been in the centre of the storm at all. I feel like I’ve been watching it play out.
Have you been able to say anything to anybody, family friends… Postmen?
Absolutely no-one! My mum has no idea where I’ve been for the past two years. It’s been really difficult. But to be honest, I’m actually really good at keeping secrets. So, I’ve perhaps been too good and haven’t told anyone, anything. My agent, no one knows anything! I’m taking it really seriously, maybe a bit too seriously!
You and director Kate Herron have worked together in the past. Is that how it began for you?
Kate and I worked together on a short film of hers a few years ago now. And we stayed in touch, we’re mates, we’ll go out for coffee and do a bit of improv. We exist in the same circles in London. I’m trying to remember how exactly it happened. I was shooting another film in the UK, and I think I got a message from Kate saying, “I’m on this show, I’m not allowed to talk about what it is… There’s a role, we’d like to see what you do with it. I can’t tell you any more. Just wanted to give you the heads up…” A really vague WhatsApp message. So, then I got a request for a tape through my agent. But obviously, my agency also couldn’t know anything about what was happening and what it was or anything. I was given a really short scene, made a tape of this scene and just had to guess what it was about. I think it was actually what ended up being the scene from Episode Three, which is Loki and Sylvie on the train. I think it ended up being that scene, but it was very different when I did the audition tape for it.
Did it have the word Loki in the script at any point?
No, no, no names! I think it was Bob and Sarah or something completely different. I didn’t have a clue what it was.
I was really interested in how angry she is and how sort of laser-focused she is on this mission that she’s given herself.
At what point did the penny drop? At what point did you realise that you were auditioning to play a Loki on Loki, and then this incredibly complex character?
I can’t remember what happened first. It might have been the news that Kate was directing the new Loki came out. And then I was like, “Oh, maybe that’s what I read for…” Or if it was that I was just offered the job, and they told me what it was. But yeah, it was a surprise. And I had a chat with Tom on FaceTime because he was in New York. I never actually met anyone because I was nine months pregnant, I couldn’t fly anywhere. So, I was in London, everyone else is in the US. So, it was just that tape, it was all based on that. And obviously, I’ve worked with Kate before, so she knows that I’m not some weirdo. And she must’ve convinced them to cast me!
Let’s talk a little bit about Sylvie as we now know her. What’s clear is that you’re not doing a Tom Hiddleston impression. This is not your take on a Tom Hiddleston Loki, this is a very, very different iteration of their character. So where did you start?
Well, probably exactly there, making that decision that I didn’t want to go in and do an impression of Tom, because that would have been awful. I’m really bad at impressions for a start! Sylvie’s very different to Loki in a lot of ways. There’s the chaos and there’s the mischievous, which are very, very Loki traits. But for me, I was really interested in how angry she is and how sort of laser-focused she is on this mission that she’s given herself. And I think that plus the playfulness really helped me get into the character. And, and so that was the way I started.
The stunt training and the fight training really helped me with her physicality, and we were all really keen on her being a really strong, sort of street fighter, almost. She’s not as elegant as Loki. She’s fit and rough around the edges, she’s had a harder time, in a way, she’s been on the run for the majority of her life, getting into scraps. And I like the idea that she really enjoys fighting. And she’d really get something out of it. Because she knows that she’s probably going to win. Right? And that’s where her cockiness comes through, maybe. And so that was part of it as well. And then as soon as you put the costume on, you’re there.
What was that like? Because the costume says so much as well. There’s the headpiece, which obviously has a missing horn, which says a lot about the scrapes that she’s gotten into in the past. And also says that this isn’t the Loki we might be expecting.
We were really keen on making the costume look like it’s been through the wringer a bit. And she’s sort of gathered bits of it from places that she’s been throughout her journey. We didn’t want it to be too clean and shiny. And it was also important to me that it was a really comfortable costume and that I could actually fight in it, and I could kick in it and just do things that I needed to kick not have to worry about breaking it or being uncomfortable. And then Christine Wada, the costume designer, was amazing at just making it super comfy. But I still felt like a badass when I put it on.
The train scene has that wonderful moment where you’re talking about your romantic pasts, and Loki confirms that he is bisexual, which has been received rapturously since the episode came out. Did you get a sense of how momentous it was when you were filming it?
I knew how important it was, yeah. And I’m just so pleased that it’s been received so well. And people are super happy to have seem that scene. And like I said, the show is inspired by the comics, and the comics for a long time have alluded to Loki being bisexual or pansexual. And his sexuality is not straight. And even back to Norse mythology. So, it was important to Kate, and it was also important to me and Tom, that this was represented in a six-hour story about that character. Because representation is important.
It’s such a beautifully written scene. Can you just talk about your memories of filming those exchanges? Because we’ve only just met Sylvie, and we haven’t seen Loki consider the idea of love or falling in love or being frail or vulnerable in that way before.
It’s a super important scene. And it was interesting to shoot it because it’s the first time that you see Sylvie vulnerable. And it’s just a really important moment for the two of them to understand each other in a different way, and not just be miffed by each other for the first time. And when we were filming it, it is quite a long scene. And it just felt really good to do a long, talky scene. It didn’t feel long when we were doing it. But it was nice to get into those characters, and it sort of felt like doing a play, when you go a bit deeper and it’s great. It’s just another way of understanding the character that you’re playing. And listening to Tom singing was also an experience! Didn’t he do such a good job of learning all those words? I was just amazed that he could learn a song in a different language. And he did it so quickly! Like, one day he got the words and the next day he was fluent in Norwegian! That’s Hiddleston, isn’t it? He’s just so smart!
The full interview can now be found in an interview episode of Empire’s Spoiler Special Podcasts. To subscribe to Empire’s Spoiler Special Podcast feed, find full details here__.