The British actress plays the authoritative Ravonna Renslayer opposite Tom Hiddleston's Loki in the new Marvel series on Disney+

By Kara Warner
June 09, 2021 10:00 AM
gugu mbatha-raw
Credit: David Benett/Getty

Although film and television production proved to be particularly challenging during the COVID-19 pandemic, Gugu Mbatha-Raw experienced a few major positives while filming her new Disney+ series Loki.

In addition to being grateful that she was working amid the global health crisis, the British star enjoyed being able to do so in a high-profile Marvel series alongside friends - including her drama school classmate and now costar Tom Hiddleston.

"It's really fun to me because I've known Tom for a long time because we were at drama school at the same time," Mbatha-Raw, 38, tells PEOPLE in this week's issue. "We both went to RADA [the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London] as did Wunmi Mosaku who's in the show. That was kind of lovely actually, with all of the weirdness going on in the world and shooting the show in 2020 and the pandemic, to be able to have drama school buddies there and just be like, 'Wow, look at everyone now.'"

The actress says the experience was surreal in the best way and that "every day was the best fun."

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She also feels a great sense of pride in Hiddleston's post-RADA success and what he's done with his mischievous character, Loki.

"I feel really proud of him," she says. "It's really, really fun to see him in the character, a character that he's embodied for 10 years and has such ownership over and is having so much fun with it. So, I have immense pride."

gugu mbatha raw and tom hiddleston
Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Tom Hiddleston
| Credit: Richard Young/Shutterstock

Mbatha-Raw also loved sinking her teeth and acting chops into her Loki character, the authoritative Ravonna Renslayer.

"She works in the TVA and for the TVA, which is the Time Variance Authority. It is this sort of bureau that oversees time and the order of time in the universe," Mbatha-Raw explains. "She's a really interesting character to me, because she's unlike anybody that I've ever played, she's very authoritative. And she has a lot of power in her world and is also somewhat sort of morally ambiguous at times, which is kind of interesting. There's a lot on her plate and she has to make some tough choices. Her journey in Loki is more of a sort of origin story for Renslayer."

And although all Marvel projects are notoriously secretive, Mbatha-Raw did tease that her character is involved in several action sequences.

"I love the stunts, I love to fight," she says with a laugh. "I have one or two kind of really cool fights in this and for me that's really fun to be able to use that physicality. I did a lot of fight stuff at drama school and I've done bits here and there, but I haven't had as much opportunity to do it on screen. And certainly for Renslayer, later in the show, there's definitely a couple of big opportunities to really flex those kind of muscles, which was really, really fun. That was a great challenge for me sort of having that action stuff."

Gugu Mbatha-Raw in Loki

She notes that part of the fun of her character and the series was exploring their movement - a new part of the Marvel universe in a way.

"How do they fight? What are their skills? What are their weapons? We get to create that for the first time, which is really, really fun," she says. "Working on the fight choreography with the stunt team, who are amazing, has been such a joy coming from a dance background. I love learning that stuff, I really enjoyed that."

Looking ahead to her next projects and the future - in which the world slowly attempts to return to normal - Mbatha-Raw can't wait to have a beach day.

"I'm currently in quarantine, so I'm just looking forward to getting out of the house," she says. "I just arrived in Vancouver for my next job, so I'm housebound for another two weeks. But I'm excited to see the sea! I haven't seen the sea in over a year, I haven't been to the beach or anything like that and I'm pretty close to it where I'm working. So I'm really excited to get to the beach this summer."

The first episode of Loki is now streaming on Disney+.