Thor: Ragnarok's Tessa Thompson on being Marvel's Han Solo

The Creed actor talks about working with Taika Waititi and discussing Marvel with Natalie Portman

Hanna Flint
Monday 23 October 2017 12:00
Thompson in ‘Thor: Ragnarok’
Thompson in ‘Thor: Ragnarok’

The spotlight on Tessa Thompson has been steadily growing brighter ever since her impressive turn as an unapologetic black activist in Dear White People. Since then she’s landed roles in Ava DuVernay’s critically-acclaimed Selma and opposite Michael B. Jordan in Creed, but now the American actress will be seen in her biggest role to date - as Asgardian warrior Valkyrie in Thor: Ragnarok.

Indie filmmaker Taika Waititi was hired to make the third Thor movie, and Thompson believes it’s his background that makes the third Thor movie stand out from the rest.

“With this film they really wanted Ragnarok to really feel like what Ragnarok means, which is the destruction of the old and the birth of the new,” the actress tells the Independent. "It needed to have a filmmaker that feels very singular, you needed to have someone who was going to really shake up the tone.

"If you look at Taika’s work he’s such an auteur and so funny, his humour is really specific. I’m just happy that Marvel let him make a Taika Waititi-ish Marvel movie.”

Thompson says she was a fan of Waititi’s work before she was cast in the movie, revealing that she’s seen What We Do In The Shadows “multiple times” and said of his debut Boy, “[it] broke my heart and filled it.”

"I think he’s so, so, so talented,” she continues. "They really let his personality shine through and really, he is all of it, because he was such a part of the integral process of us ad-libing, and would throw alternates out.

"He’s just so funny that he enthused the script with him.”

Thompson and Waititi had worked together to make sure that Valkyrie stood out from the other female heroes already seen in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. She drinks, she’s jaded and she’s more than a match for most of the men in the movie.

"It was quite collaborative but [Taika] and I got on from the minute we met each other,” the actress explains. “He pitched Valkyrie as sort of the Han Solo over the movie and so I sort of knew the space that she wanted to occupy, and we wanted to subvert any sort of cliches in our portrayal of her. I say ‘ours' because he was really integral to that.”

Valkyrie is certainly more than just a potential love interest for Thor, though she does replace Jane Foster, the God of Thunder’s ex-girlfriend and brilliant scientist who was in the first two movies and played by Natalie Portman.

Coincidentally, Thompson and Portman were working together on another movie, Annihilation, right before Thor: Ragnarok began production in Australia.

“It was really cute because I literally went from Annihilation on Friday and flew to Australia to work on Thor that Monday which is nuts,” the actress remembers. "And the whole time I was on Annihilation I would practice my swords work on set, so it was funny to be doing that in front of Natalie because she would just crack up.

"She said that Chris was lovely and he was, she was totally right."

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