Movies

Role of Valkyrie is actress Tessa Thompson's most physical yet

US actress Tessa Thompson was a fan of English director-actor Kenneth Branagh's 2011 film Thor before she signed on to play elite Asgardian warrior Valkyrie in Thor: Ragnarok.

"I knew plenty in the sense that I watched a number of the movies," said the 34-year-old.

"It feels like a dangerous thing to admit now that I am part of the universe, but I was not an avid reader of comic books growing up.

"My first introduction to Thor was the films. I am a big Kenneth Branagh fan, and it really interested me to see a director like him take on a comic book movie.

"So the Thor movie was really the first in the universe that made a huge impression on me."

In the movie, Valkyrie leaves her home behind because of her past but reluctantly becomes part of Thor and Hulk's team to try to save Asgard.

Working with returning stars Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston and Mark Ruffalo was easy for the Marvel Cinematic Universe first-timer.

"They are really easy people to be a newbie around because they are so welcoming," Thompson said.

"They are all so excited to have such a dynamic female character enter the universe.

"With Thor: Ragnarok, the characters have all undergone changes. We are introduced to a Bruce Banner that we have never really seen before. And we are seeing a Thor that we have not really seen before.

"It was really interesting to work with such gifted actors who have been mining these characters for so long but also are always reaching to break new ground.

"There was a shift in tone and that kept us all on our toes. In that way, it felt like we had moments where we were all newbies again; where we were all discovering who these people are together and what the world of the film is."

For Thompson, working on Thor: Ragnarok presented physical challenges she readily embraced to bring the character to life.

"This may have been the most physical I have ever been in my adult life," she said.

POWERFUL

Expanding on Valkyrie's style of fighting, Thompson said: "We wanted to find a style that we have not seen before.

"It was important that you believe she can wield a sword as powerful and iconic as Dragonfang, and that she also looks like she could win any bar fight.

"We wanted Valkyrie to feel really close to the ground and scrappy. I would say she fights like a boy, except that diminishes the fact that she just fights like a really strong woman."

Thompson summed up her experience by saying: "At the risk of sounding silly, to be in this world of superheroes and to be working really hard in stunts and fights gives me a sense that we are always capable of more than we think we are as people. That is always nice to be reminded of.

"The less earnest answer is that it has been highly amusing. I cannot believe this is my job. I cannot believe that I get to run around in a cape and have a spaceship, and punch bad guys."

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