(Photo by Marvel Studios)
Tara Strong has voiced iconic characters like Raven on Teen Titans and Twilight Sparkle in various My Little Pony series. Those experiences gave her a sense for what characters will inspire the viewing public’s imagination. But the popularity of Loki’s Miss Minutes took her by surprise. In fact, as she told Rotten Tomatoes when we had the opportunity to speak to both her and Richard E. Grant about their audience-favorite parts in the series, everything about the lovable mascot/AI of the Time Variance Authority took her by surprise.
“I didn’t even know what I was auditioning for when I first auditioned,” she recalled. “I didn’t know much about the character. Normally, when I’m auditioning for something, I get a character breakdown. I get maybe the script or at least several pages of sides, drawings, maybe a show bible to let me know what’s going on. And I got very little of that.”
The famous Marvel secrecy was in effect.
“I remember calling my agent, saying, ‘Who is she? Is she sentient? Is she AI?’ And she couldn’t even tell me,” Strong added. “I didn’t know what it was till I booked it. And then I didn’t know who she really was until I was on the Zoom with [series director] Kate Herron and the rest of the crew from the MCU.”
(Photo by Erik Voake/Getty Images for Adult Swim)
At that point, she saw a design of the clock-faced character, a look which evokes a mid-20th century corporate logo.
“It was instantly really visually exciting and beautiful and fun,” Strong said. But a mystery still remained as to the exact sound of Miss Minutes. “They said just to lay down a couple of versions — one more AI, a little bit, one more sentient, and then throw in an accent, so that’s exactly what I did,” she said. “I did one with my own voice, and then one a little bit more AI, and then one with this accent that they really liked.”
The American Southern accent proved to be charming when paired with Miss Minutes’ actual dialogue.
“She’s saying all these things, like, ‘You can die,’ but with this really cute voice. So it’s sort of funny that she has these very dire things to deliver in the exposition, but she’s doing it in a welcoming, ‘Y’all come back now and have some pie later’ way,” Strong said.
Despite the work put into developing the character, she was still unsure the character would resonate with Marvel fans until the first trailer debuted earlier this year.
“It’s a huge risk to take, to bring an animated character onto a [live-action project], particularly one that’s already so successful and so beloved and so massive. People could have said, ‘We hate her. She’s annoying,’ or she’s whatever. And they instantly loved her so much.”
Now, she’s ready to see Miss Minutes cosplay when comic conventions return in full force.
“I’m sure there’ll be a lot of that. I’ve already seen so many really fun story ideas and plot lines and some cosplay and some incredible art,” she said. “I mean, the artists online that are fans that put their stuff out there, they’re just so incredible … I’m so grateful to the fans. It’s just been like this unexpected present that I just got to keep opening every week.”
Grant, meanwhile, a self-proclaimed lifelong fan of the Marvel Comics’ God of Mischief, anticipated his days wearing the Loki costume.
“I assumed that it would be the Jack Kirby costume. And when the costume designer emailed me the photograph of my costume I thought, ‘Oh great, that’s exactly what I’m getting.’”
But once on set, he discovered one aspect of the design was changed – a certain amount of muscle mass.
“I barely had any muscles I thought that I would be in a muscle suit. Finally, I would be in the muscle suit of my dreams! And they said, ‘No, you’re not having that.’ And I said, ‘What do you mean? It’s like Kermit the Frog.’ And they said, ‘No, no, no. You’ll be fine because you’re doing magic stuff.’”
(Photo by Marvel Studios)
The character’s conjuring of Asgard in episode 5 certainly revealed Classic Loki’s power, but Grant still joked he felt “shortchanged that I wasn’t given the muscles to go underneath all the green tights.”
“I feel that fans have been cheated of that visual delight,” he added.
He also said that the horns – closer to Kirby-esque dimensions than any pair before seen in the MCU – were a “very, very tight fit” and not the most comfortable things to wear across a day of filming. Nevertheless, “it really came into its own when they had those huge industrial wind machines blowing at me for Asgard’s final immolation. I was very grateful for how tight the fit was because it never came off once.”
Beyond the costuming and all its Kirby callbacks, Classic Loki proved to be one of the more tragic variants the series’ titular character (Tom Hiddleston) encounters across his adventure. Grant credited Classic Loki’s big speech with giving him an insight into this particular variant of Loki.
“What he says about his backstory — that he’s been isolated on these planets and that he is the god of outcasts, that was the key to me,” he explained. “I thought that is something that Tom Hiddleston isn’t doing and hasn’t been required to do. And I thought, Well, that’s the difference. So, I definitely don’t have to do an imitation of him. So that was the steer in which I went in. And it also means that because of his age, he’s vulnerable and sanguine about making these sacrifices and giving himself to up to Alioth.”
Of course, Classic Loki wasn’t the only Loki variant to make his presence known in last week’s episode or on social media. Alligator Loki – or “Croki,” depending on who you ask – is a legit phenomenon despite being mostly a sight gag. On set, according to Grant, he wasn’t even that.
“It looked like three stuffed sofa cushions that had been sewn together in a sort of vague shape of an alligator. So, that’s what we had to react to,” he said. “What it actually looks like on screen is absolutely amazing.”
(Photo by Marvel Studios)
With Loki’s finale approaching, we asked both Grant and Strong where they think the “main” Lokis of the series – Hiddleston’s title character and Sylvie (Sophia Di Martino) – might end up at the end of their journeys. Claiming to be as “selfish as old Loki to give a tinker’s damn” about their fate, Grant instead admitted his hope that Classic Loki may yet return.
“If he ever came back, he’d come back with his mate, who’s the only person that he can understand it and who understands him – and that’s Alligator [Loki].” Although, he admitted “we have to pray to the god of Kevin Feige to see whether he can write such a glorious idea in the future.”
Strong said Miss Minutes would like the two renegade lead Lokis to “behave” because “we have things to work on in the Sacred Timeline.” But as herself, Strong said she felt, “because we’ve so fallen in love with them, it’d be fun to see them prevail. It’d be fun to see them get to the bottom of it and be triumphant and lead their own timelines however they’d like to, with freedom.”
And as for the real story with Miss Minutes, a character some have speculated is more than AI?
“I certainly know more than you do,” Strong teased. “But I will say that the beauty of this character is it keeps you wondering.”
Loki’s sixth and final episode streams on Wednesday, July 13 on Disney+.