In our latest interview with the EE Rising Star nominees, the Thor: Ragnarok star talks pygmy goats and surfing
Where you know her from: As Valkyrie, the boozed-up, swashbuckling antihero in Thor: Ragnarok.
Her character Valkyrie in her own words: “She’s an elite warrior of Asgard, hanging out on an alien planet, trying to avoid opening any old wounds from her past by tough-talking and heavy-drinking. She’s the Han Solo of the Marvel universe.”
On being more than a love interest: “It’s exciting to have a woman in space who is arguably as good at fighting, if not better, than Thor, and to have someone who’s kind of nonplussed by ‘the God of Thunder’. Historically, it’s not how we’re used to seeing women respond to the male lead of a film.”
Why filming in Australia had its benefits: “I learned to surf. I became pretty good. I got really adept at paddling out, because I was training every day and gained a lot of muscle mass. So much of surfing is just reading the ocean. I loved sitting on my board, in awe of my surroundings.”
Why filming in Australia had its setbacks: “It turns out the time I went out surfing – early, early morning, before the sun came up – was prime shark feeding time. One day the newspaper said, ‘Zero days since deadly shark sighting.’ I kind of stopped after that.”
Favourite animal: “I’m really, really fond of goats. I want to adopt a pygmy goat and name it Gal Dagoat, because Wonder Woman rocks. Goats are huge now, on the internet, but I’ve been a fan for ages. It’s like when your favourite indie band starts getting recognition. I’m happy, but also… stay away from my goats, you know?”
On the fine art of weapon-training: “The little daggers [Valkyrie uses] were really, really fun, and easier than a big blade [to handle] because they’re just there, in your hand. I’d worked with a steak knife before – for work! – so I felt quite comfortable with it.”
Valkyrie’s fighting style in a nutshell: “It’s not polished, we wanted her to be someone who could just f*cking kill you in a bar fight. Her style is down and dirty.”
Hardest habit to unlearn: “I did a bit of dance training in the past, so at first I was fighting like I was in a Beyoncé video. A few people used to make fun of me during our practices.”
What it means to be a rising star: “I’m in such good company. Each of these actors have cemented themselves in my mind as real, exciting, next-generation actors because they’re gifted and surprising and completely unpredictable.”
See her next: As the gun-toting ‘Surveyor’ in Annihilation and in Season 2 of wild-west dystopia Westworld. “We just wrapped Season 2, and the cast are still trying to figure out what just happened. But this year, the women really reign supreme so watch out.”
Get tickets to Thor: Ragnarok
Want to see Tessa Thompson in action before you vote for the EE Rising Star Award? ShortList is hosting an exclusive screening of Thor: Ragnarok at Picturehouse Central at 6pm on Wednesday 7 February. Tickets are free but limited, so head to seeitfirst.com and enter the code W29GYM to secure yours now.
Have your say at the 2018 British academy film awards by voting for the EE Rising Star Award
The EE Rising Star Award is the only accolade at the EE Baftas voted for by you. Now in its 13th year, the award is dedicated to recognising emerging acting talent that has captured the public’s imagination over the past year. This year’s nominees are Timothée Chalamet (Call Me By Your Name), Daniel Kaluuya (Get Out), Josh O’Connor (God’s Own Country), Florence Pugh (Lady Macbeth) and Tessa Thompson (Thor: Ragnarok) who will need your vote to become the 2018 EE Rising Star.
To have your say, visit ee.co.uk/BAFTA and cast your vote before 14 February. The winner will be announced at the EE British Academy Film Awards on 18 February.