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Loki Director Kate Herron Talks Marvel, Owen Wilson, and Time Travel

The 'Sex Education' director discusses joining the MCU.

kate herron, tom hiddleston

After the massive success of WandaVision and The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, Disney+ and Marvel are gearing up to premiere their newest MCU series Loki. The twisty time travel series will see Loki in the custody of the Time Variance Authority (TVA), which struggles with this variant version of the god of mischief. While the prime timeline Loki was murdered by Thanos in the opening of Avengers: Infinity War, this version of Loki is the one that escaped via the Tesseract in 2012 after nabbing it from Tony Stark. The TVA recruit Loki to fix the timeline, and time travel shenanigans ensue.

The six-part miniseries is directed by Kate Herron, an out British filmmaker who previously directed several episodes of Netflix’s Sex Education. In an interview with the Hollywood Reporter, Herron, a self-described Loki superfan, discussed pitching herself to Marvel. She said, “[My agents] were like, ‘Look, it’s just a casual conversation, they just want to get a sense of you,’ and basically I was like, ‘OK, I’m just going to pitch them.’ Because I thought, they might not meet me again. So I got as much information as I could, and they sent me a little bit about the show. And I just prepared a massive pitch for it. I canceled everything for two weeks. I made a 60-page document full of references, story ideas, music. I knew I’d be up against some really big directors, and I knew I wouldn’t be the most experienced in the room, so I [said], “OK. I’ll just be the most passionate.”

As soon as she was hired, Herron met with Loki himself, Tom Hiddleston. “I flew first to New York to meet Tom. He was in Betrayal at the time, on Broadway, so we basically went on this amazing walk around New York. I’d never met him before. We just spoke about Loki and what was really important to us about the character and where we thought it would be fun to take him, as well. It was this intense, five-hour conversation with him basically.”

Herron also worked extensively with Owen Wilson, who plays Mobius M. Mobius, a TVA analyst who serves as Loki’s handler. Herron and Hiddleston worked together to bring Wilson up to speed on the character’s complicated backstory. “He is playing a Loki expert, so at the beginning of production, Tom and I were talking. He devised this thing called Loki School,” Herron said. “He did a big lecture to the cast and crew. I love the character. This is a decade of fans loving this character and where that character has been. It was talking everyone through that, but through Tom and his own experiences. Stunts that Tom liked or costumes. He ended up doing that same Loki school for Owen. Owen absolutely loved it. Owen has such a writer’s brain. I remember I had to pitch him down the phone. My heart rate [was up].”

She continued, “You can tell he’s a writer, just by the way he attacks story. His questions about the world and the structure and the arc of the character. It was really fun to work with him. It was the questions he asked, and the way he attacked story, in that sense. And also probably because he was newer to the Marvel world, he was like, ‘OK, how does this work?’ I also pitched him Loki’s arc over the past 10 years, where that character has gone, but also explaining our Loki and what happened in Endgame and time travel. There’s a lot to unpack in that conversation.”

Kevin Feige also encouraged Herron and series writer Michael Waldron (Rick and Morty, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness) to push boundaries. “Something I always found was we would sometimes pitch something, and it would be at a good place, but he’d always be like, ‘OK, that’s great, but push it further.’ Sometimes I’d pitch stuff and be like, ‘This is too weird,’ and he’d say, ‘No, go weirder,'” Herron said. “He wants to tell the best story and I found it really helpful having his eye across everything and the fact that he does challenge everything. Tom as well, on set. He brings this amazing energy and this great A-game that causes everyone to rise to the occasion.”

Herron added that the series was ultimately about identity and defining oneself. “In terms of the themes, I love gray areas. The show is really about what makes someone truly good or what makes someone truly bad, and are we either of those things? Loki is in that gray area. It’s exciting to be able to tell a story like that. As a director and a writer, you don’t necessarily understand why you are making these stories. Something I keep getting drawn back into is identity. Sex Education, we spoke a lot about identity and feeling like an outsider but actually finding your people. I feel the same with Loki. It’s a show about identity and self-acceptance and for me, that’s also what drew me in.”

Loki premieres on Disney+ on June 9.

(via The Hollywood Reporter, image: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images/Disney+)

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Chelsea was born and raised in New Orleans, which explains her affinity for cheesy grits and Britney Spears. She currently lives in sunny Los Angeles, with her husband, son, and one poorly behaved rescue dog. She is a former roller derby girl and a black belt in Judo, so she is not to be trifled with. She loves the word “Jewess” and wishes more people used it to describe her.