It was certainly a big component of it. I love the Danny Boyle Steve Jobs movie. There’s a bit in there that [ Aaron] Sorkin pulled from the Walter Isaacson Steve Jobs biography, just talking about how Steve Jobs was adopted and how people who are adopted are out of control at the most important moment of their lives. And that movie is about how Steve Jobs is so obsessive about end-to-end control over all this technology. I drew a really interesting parallel between Loki and Steve Jobs: The desire to rule. “I know best. I want to rule. I want to be in control as an adult because I was, in fact, so out of control as a young Frost Giant baby.”
Beyond that, I really wanted to treat it like great TV, which is to say, self-reflection about Loki’s identity. Forcing Loki to really assess, “Who am I? Why do I do the things I do?” I don’t know if that’s stuff you necessarily get to do in a blockbuster, two-hour movie. But in a six-episode tv show featuring a blockbuster supervillain, it’s pretty cool to get to do that.
A lot of that self-reflection comes through the interrogation sequence with Owen Wilson’s Mobius. Can you talk about the process behind casting him and what you were looking for in a scene partner for Tom?
I wrote Mobius not with any actor in mind, just kind of conceptualizing an original character—which was fun because Loki himself was so well-defined as Tom. What was most important in casting Mobius was somebody whose energy was totally different than Loki’s. And then also someone who was likable. Somebody who had a sense of inherent goodness.
You know, I often reference Tom Hanks. Mobius is a character that a younger Tom Hanks would have played. The idea is that those two qualities would add up to great chemistry with Loki. My hats off to Kate Herron, our director, Kevin Wright, our senior producer, and Sarah Finn, our casting producer—it was that little brain trust that came up with the idea for Owen. As soon as that was put out there, it was like, “Oh my god, that’s so inspired.”
Then Kate had a conversation with him where she had to pitch this entire, very complicated show. He’s a writer himself and a really thoughtful artist. And Kate clearly sold the hell out of it because Owen signed up immediately. So thank God.
To your point about Owen being a talent in his own right, did scripts change at all once you had him on board in order to play more to his comedic strengths?
There was much less of that than you might think. I think what was appealing about the character to him was to play a little bit against type, to not be playing a character who was outright clowning around but instead is a just desk jockey. I didn’t go in and go, “Alright, I’ve got Hansel from Zoolander now, time for a setup and punchline.”
Instead, we knew what a great dramatic actor Owen is, and let’s trust the comedy is going to come organically with him, which it does. And yeah, Owen and I worked together on dialogue and stuff, and he riffed and improvised and everything. As with any actor, especially in the MCU, you’re working with them and building and shaping that character together.
Setting up rules for time travel can get pretty complicated pretty quickly. How did you strike a balance between expanding the depth and breadth of what’s possible in the MCU without it being too overwhelming?