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Why It Was Such A Dangerous Task To Cast Sylvie in Loki Season 1 - /Film


Sophia Di Martino in Loki

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Tom Hiddleston, who has played Loki in the Marvel Cinematic Universe since the first "Thor" film in 2011, is a charismatic actor. Fans love him with a passion, and any search of Loki fan art can tell you that. (Don't do it. Trust me, because you can't unsee some of these.) Finding someone to play opposite him would be enough of a challenge. Finding someone who was supposed to be another version of Loki but still a distinct character was incredibly daunting. 

Sylvie, played by Sophia Di Martino, is a Loki variant who has been through a very different life than the Loki we're all familiar with. She was instantly charming, combative, and sneaky, but in a completely different way from Loki (Hiddleston's Loki, who I'll just call Loki now). She was a brilliant find, as shown by the third episode in season 1, where they get to know each other on a train. You can see everything that makes them both variants of the same person/God, but also how their lives have shaped them in different ways. In a Buzzfeed interview from 2021, director Kate Heron spoke about casting Di Martino as Sylvie and how she made the role her own. 

'She's ... really good at playing characters with a lot of anger, pain, and vulnerability'

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Tom Hiddleston and Sophia Di Martino in Loki

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Heron said that Di Martino has a similar quality to Hiddleston in that "she's so funny and naturally so witty and charismatic that you can't take your eyes off her." It's a good thing because, according to a Variety interview from the same year, Di Martino said she was so pregnant at the time of her audition that she couldn't travel and got the job from her audition tape ... something that almost never happens. 

In the previously mentioned Buzzfeed interview, Heron said of Di Martino: 

"She's also really good at playing characters with a lot of anger, pain, and vulnerability. I just felt that those qualities were so Loki to me. She brought her own spin on it too. Tom's performance is so iconic, so Sylvie was a tough role to cast because you need to give him a good sparring partner, but also, it's another Loki and people love Loki. So, it was really making sure that she felt distinctive enough that she was different, but also that we gave Tom a really fun actor to play alongside. It was really fun watching them. It was really fun seeing their chemistry grow."

As "Loki" remains my favorite of the MCU Disney+ series, I have to agree. I have critiques here and there, but for me, the joy of it all was watching these two characters interact, figure out how they're similar and where they differ, bring each other new understanding, and challenge each other, all set against a backdrop of this weird attraction between two variants of the same being. It's delightful, with a bit of creepiness thrown in for good measure. 

Becoming a different Loki

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Sophie Di Martino and Tom Hiddleston in Loki

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In the Variety interview with Di Martino, she was asked about how much she studied Hiddleston's performances and what she brought to her own from that. She told the publication: 

"I looked at his performance, but I try not to be shaped by it too much. Sylvie has had a very different backstory to Loki. She's a different person, and that was really important to us right from the beginning. When [director] Kate [Herron] pitched me the idea when I finally got the job, and she was able to tell me a bit more about it, it was very clear that Sylvie was Sylvie."

As it would be very difficult to imagine anyone else in the role of Sylvie, I can't disagree. The trailers for the second season of "Loki" show Sylvie in a very different spot after the events at the end of the first season, working in what appears to be a fast food joint and maybe a record store, and definitely going through something rough. I'm really excited to see where they take the show (and the Lokis) because I'd rather see these two characters sit and talk than just about any CGI third act of any MCU film. 

"Loki" season 2 is currently slated to release on October 6, 2023 on Disney+.

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