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Holy crap. Look at Kate Herron's shirt. When the Loki director pops up on Zoom, she's donning the most glorious image anyone will see since we laid eyes on Alligator Loki: A Teletubby wearing the Loki horns. Are the Teletubbies Loki variants? Sure, why not!
"I got it on Instagram," Herron says. "There's an amazing comic book artist and he designed it. He made it into a T-shirt for me because I saw it and was like, 'That's incredible. Can I get it for the press junket?'"
Herron, no big deal, just pulled off an MCU miracle. Entering a mammoth franchise with, notably, some of Sex Education's best episodes under her belt, the director deftly brought a plot involving multiverses and Richard E. Grant in a cape and superhero mumbo-jumbo to brilliant, beautiful life. Following Loki's tear-jerking, mind-bending finale, the series has been dubbed by critics and fan's alike as one of Marvel's best efforts—which is no small feat. Of course, we needed to ask Herron how she stuck the landing. Following the most epic finale you, me, or any Teletubby can remember, Herron talked to Esquire about the Miss Minutes jump scare, filming the finale's introduction of He Who Remains, and why she won't return for Season Two of Loki.
ESQ: How are you doing?
KH: I'm good. I think I feel very relieved that I don't have to sit on the secret of He Who Remains anymore, It was a very big secret to hold, but for an important reason, right? Because it's such a good character to be launching. So yeah, I feel good.
ESQ: Loking back at your old interviews, you have such a good poker face when you're avoiding spoilers, but you're also incredible at giving aggregator crumbs.
KH: I play a lot of board games, so you need to be quite good at strategy and poker faces so people can't always read your hand. So I think weirdly board games have prepared me more for working with Marvel than anything else.
ESQ: I have to start with the Miss Minutes jump scare. What went into the decision to make her a memeable, creepy apparition in that moment?
KH: I love horror, and my executive, Kevin Wright, knew that. Me and him were talking about Episode Six and I remember that he was like, "Oh, maybe you could do something creepy of Miss Minutes." And I immediately was like, "We have to do a jump scare!" Because I haven't got to do a good jump scare in anything yet and I really wanted to, because a lot of my friends are horror directors. I was like, "I can't let them down." So I was really excited to have a shot at doing a jump scare. And Miss Minutes, it was really fun testing it because we'd kind of bring different people into the edit, me and Emma McCleave, the editor, and we'd just play it for them, watch them, and check that they were jumping when we cut it.
ESQ: One thing that I think is getting missed in all the craziness is that we see a peak moment of the love story between Loki and Sylvie. Where does the finale leave the companionship that they found in each other?
KH: When I started the show, that was always in the DNA of it—that Loki was going to meet a version of himself and they were going to fall in love. And that's honestly what drew me into the story, because I directed Sex Education. I love stories about self-love and finding your identity and your people. Loki is such a broken character when we join him, and seeing him go on this amazing journey with all this growth and finding the good points of himself in seeing her—I think that was very beautiful. It's also paying respect to the fact that Sylvie's in a very different place to him. She hasn't had the Mobius therapy session. She even says, in Episode Five, "I don't know how to do this. I don't have friends." You really feel for her because she has been on the run and her whole life has been this mission.
It's almost funny because these characters are thousands of years old, but it's almost teenage the way they both talk about their feelings for each other. I think everyone can relate to that, right? In any new relationship, there's always that kind of awkwardness and like, "Oh God, am I too keen? The important thing was the hope—like when Sylvie and him kiss, I think it is genuine and it is coming from a place of these feelings they have for each other. Obviously she does push them through that door, but for me it was a goodbye and it was with heart. But it's kind of a goodbye in the sense of like, I care about you, but I'm going to do my mission because that's where I'm at.
ESQ: I would pay for you to direct the Sex Education episode where Otis falls through a portal into the multiverse, into the main MCU.
KH: He really looks like a Loki as well, which is so funny. I always thought that. I was like Asa does look like a Loki. It didn't come to pass or anything, but it would be interesting to do a Sex Ed-Marvel crossover. I wonder who all the different characters would be within the MCU, but it would be quite funny.
ESQ: You're right, he could pull off a teenage Loki.
KH: Yeah, like a teen or a very young ’20s, maybe. But it was just funny because I was like, "Oh yeah, he looks a bit like Tom." I wonder how they could do it. I'm sure they'll find a way to do a crossover anyway.
ESQ: Can you just take me back to filming with Jonathan Majors? And you capturing him in such a compelling, quirky, scary way—I'm sure your direction was such a big part of that.
KH: I was just so excited because Jonathan is an actor that everyone was so excited about. He's like a chameleon in everything he does and he's so talented. I just feel as a director so lucky to have worked on this because I feel like I've got to work with some of the best actors out there. And when you're with Jonathan, you know you're in the presence of just someone really magnificent. For me as a director, it's giving him the space to play and feel safe. Because we filmed it all in a week, but it was a lot to film in a week. So I think it was really about creating a space where he could have fun and find this character because he's going to be playing him for a long time.
ESQ: What went into the decision to introduce us to the good guy first?
KH: I remember in the script, he comes up the elevator and it was so casual. I was like, "Oh man, that's so fun." And then Jonathan, when he plays it, he's relaxed. And I the thing he used to talk about a lot was that this is a character who's been on his own for a long time. Because at the beginning, we introduced him in a space in the universe that feels like this very busy, loud place, but actually, when we see the Citadel, he's surrounded by the Timeline and he's very isolated. Even in his costume with [designer] Christine Wada, for the idea of his outfit, he's a character who's existed for multiple millennia. So it's like, OK, let's pull from lots of different places so you can't necessarily pin down which time or which place he might be from. Also the fact that his clothes look comfy. They were like pajamas because he's living at home. He loved the idea of the office [being] the only finished part of the citadel and that the rest of the citadel was like this Sunset Boulevard kind of dusty, dilapidated space. And just again showed that he probably just keeps himself to his office. All those elements definitely fed into Jonathan's performance in terms of balancing the extrovert, but also the introvert of someone that would be living by themselves and only talking to a cartoon clock.
ESQ: It really is incredible how you pull a nail-biting finale with this battle of wits and dialogue.
KH: It was really exciting because I feel like Episode Five was a lot of fun because we got to play into all the joy of the different versions of Loki, but also just the fact that it was our big usual Marvel third act, right? Like it was where our big spectacle was as they were fighting this big monster. But I love that our finale bookends, right? We began with a conversation and we ended with one.
ESQ: I also loved that there was no end-credits scene—I think it makes the ending that much more impactful. Was there ever an end credit scene on the table, or any kind of a stinger?
KH: I think no, because weirdly, we never went after the kind of mid-credit sequences. I think we always just were thinking just of the story and where we knew we wanted it to end. For example, Episode Four, originally Loki was deleted and then we went straight to him waking up. And it was only in the edit I was like, “I think it'd be really cool actually. We should move that scene to mid-credits because then we'll really feel like Loki has died." Because if I watched that moment and then it went to the credits, I'd be like, "What?!" And then when we were talking about the best way to talk about Season Two, we were like, "Okay, well, let's do that like a little mid-credits at the end because that is exciting to confirm it in that way." I'd say we found both of those in the edit just because we wanted to kind of do it right and have a fun nod to something that Marvel does so well.
ESQ: Is there anything you can tell about the future of the story you've told here—or even where you personally would like to go with the studio or otherwise going forward?
KH: Yeah, so I'm just on for Season One. So I'm so proud of the story we told. I mean, it was amazing getting to set up the TVA and take Loki on this whole new journey. And I mean, I think we've left so much groundwork for his character, and as people see in the comics, there's so much more to be delved into. And I just am excited honestly to just see where all the characters go. Like, who is B-15? What did she see in those memories and where did Ravonna go and where is Loki? I think for me, we've set up these questions and I look forward to seeing them being answered as a fan in the next season.
ESQ: Absolutely. Well, can we please work on the Asa Butterfield Loki?
KH: I will call him and I'll be like, "You want to do some crazy Marvel crossover?"
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