Loki's Sylvie reveals what shaped the character's badass fighting style

Actor Sophia Di Martino on making Sylvie more of a brawler than Loki, learning from actor Tom Hiddleston and the importance of LGBTQI representation.

Sean Keane Former Senior Writer
Sean knows far too much about Marvel, DC and Star Wars, and poured this knowledge into recaps and explainers on CNET. He also worked on breaking news, with a passion for tech, video game and culture.
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Sean Keane
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Sylvie/Lady Loki

Sophia Di Martino wanted to make Sylvie feel different from Loki, right down to her fighting style. 

Marvel Studios

Episode 3 of Loki featured the titular Marvel Cinematic Universe villain forging a dangerous alliance with his alternate timeline counterpart Sylvie, and sparks flew as the two tricksters tried to escape a doomed moon. It was our first real look at Sylvie -- who's determined to take down the omniscient Time-Keepers -- and she left fans excited for the fourth episode, which hit Disney Plus on Wednesday.

The character is played with mischievous energy by actor Sophia Di Martino, who previously appeared in Danny Boyle's 2019 Beatles celebration Yesterday, post-apocalyptic martial arts show Into the Badlands and an array of British drama series.

Loki is Di Martino's first MCU role, so I was excited to chat with her over Zoom about her whirlwind audition process, how she made Sylvie feel different from Tom Hiddleston's iconic Loki and episode 3's moment of LGBTQI representation.

Here's a transcript of our conversation, lightly edited for clarity. 

Q: I love how you're playing Sylvie so far, she's such an intriguing character. Can you tell me how you came to be involved in Loki?
Di Martino: Thank you. I'd already worked with [director] Kate Herron and had a script come through to do an audition tape. It was a really short scene; I think the characters were called Bob and Sarah. And that was it -- the shortest audition process I think I've ever been through. I didn't get to do screen tests or recalls or anything because I was heavily pregnant at the time. 

I also couldn't travel and Tom was in New York, so we couldn't physically meet and I found myself on FaceTime with Tom. Then shortly after that, I was cast. I still have trouble wrapping my head around it. It's crazy.

I remember interviews with Marvel actors who say they were sent big stacks of comics to read as they prepared for the roles. Did this happen to you?
To be honest, I didn't have time. It all happened so quickly. There wasn't time to read a big stack of comics. Kate did send me a few, but I don't remember which ones without going home and checking.

Did you watch any non-Marvel movies to prepare?
One of the movies we watched for stunt references was Atomic Blonde -- the fight scenes in that are great. Charlize Theron is super-strong and fights like a man. We wanted Sylvie to be a brawler; we didn't want her to be too elegant in the way she fights because that's Loki's thing. He's so balletic in the way that he moves, but Sylvie is more of a street fighter. 

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What was your previous experience with Marvel movies, and Loki in particular?
I'd watched a few of the films and really enjoyed them. But to be honest, I didn't know very much at all. Tom has taught me a lot through his "Loki Lecture" [which the actor uses to help new actors catch up] and, and just being around him -- he knows so much. If I have a question about anything, I can just ask Tom and most of the time he'll know the answer. 

Given the apparent relationship between your character and Tom's, did his performance as Loki inspire yours?
I think it was important for me to make Sylvie her own character. So I didn't want to do an impression of Tom or try to copy his Loki -- I'm terrible at impressions. I got to know who Loki was and did research around that, but I started from scratch really.

There are similarities, but a lot of that comes from the script and from their energy. She's also mischievous and anarchic in her own way -- that sort of chaotic energy carries through. But I also wanted her to be her own person.

Loki and Sylvie with knife

Sylvie isn't impressed by Loki's cleverness.

Marvel Studios

That makes sense. Based on episode 3, it seemed like these are two people who've had very different life experiences.
Sure they have. Loki grew up as a prince and Sylvie did not.

"Must've been some would-be princesses or perhaps another prince?" That line from episode 3 has gotten a big reaction. And I know Kate Herron said acknowledging Loki is bisexual was one of the goals of the show. Did that make you put more weight on the line? It's hard to tell.
I was aware it was a really important representation for the show and that the comics have talked about that for a long time with the mythology of Loki, so it was super important. But I just played the line for the line; I didn't think about it having this much attention when we were filming. Which is good; I would have messed it up.

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