He Who Remains Actor Jonathan Majors

Major spoilers for the season finale of Loki follow.

Even though Loki isn’t a big screen affair, the Marvel Studios project is going to have a huge impact on the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe. One of the biggest influences on the future of the MCU will be the looming threat of villainous variants of Kang the Conqueror, teased by He Who Remains in the first season finale of Loki. Actor Jonathan Majors (Lovecraft Country) plays the eccentric villain who cautions Loki and Sylvie about the danger his variants will pose if the multiverse is unleashed, and it turns out Loki director Kate Herron had a hand in casting the new Thanos-level villain alongside Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania director Peyton Reed.

Long before He Who Remains debuted in Loki, we knew that Kang the Conqueror would be the primary villain in the upcoming Ant-Man and the Wasp sequel. What we didn’t know was that he would be a variant of the architect behind the Time Variance Authority in Loki. Since the Marvel series had to shoot long before Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania production began, director Kate Herron had a hand in casting Jonathan Majors in the pivotal role that will shake up the MCU. Herron revealed to Entertainment Weekly:

“I was so excited that I got to be part of the conversation about the casting of his character with the studio and Peyton [Reed]. It was a massive honor and very exciting, and he’s just an actor that we all loved.”

When it came to figuring out the right actor for the job, Herron talked about her thought process:

“[The character’s appeal is] in the writing, in the sense that we want to know who is behind the Citadel and who could be there. I think the exciting thing was he tells this story about his past and who he is. For me beyond that, then, it’s, which actor are we going to bring in? Because it’s got to be an actor with presence that immediately grabs you, because not every actor can do that, and Jonathan is one of the best actors out there. The fact that we got him to do this, I was just so happy because I was like, ‘We’re gonna be in really safe hands now.’ He just commands attention. That for me was the real key thing for me, just getting the casting right.”

What’s most impressive is that Majors commanded attention without being the traditionally menacing or intimidating villain. He leaned into a more eccentric performance that felt more akin to something like Willy Wonka as a comic book villain. It’ll be interesting to see if/how that translates to other versions of the character that we’ll see in future Marvel projects.

Loki - Jonathan Majors as He Who Remains

Jonathan Majors is All Smiles as Marvel’s New Bad Guy

Even though Jonathan Majors will be quite the force to be reckoned with in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, his portrayal of He Who Remains didn’t go down the traditional villain path. Majors noted an interesting detail about the villain that makes this performance stand out from his other roles: “There’s more smiling in that one performance than there has been in my other performances combined. It’s just what it calls for.”

Thankfully, even though he’s taken on plenty of serious roles throughout his career so far, he had the perfect training to tap into this kind of performance. Majors explained, “I’m a classically trained clown. That’s part of my training. I’ve been at it for a long time, and to be able to exercise that was a lot of fun.”

If you want to see how dedicated Majors was to the performance, keep an eye on him in the background during the confrontation between Loki and Sylvie. Even when he’s out of focus, he’s reacting to them as if he’s watching his favorite soap opera. We can’t wait to see what else he does with the various versions of Kang the Conqueror throughout the rest of the upcoming Marvel Studios projects.

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