For Tom Hiddleston, Kong was a chance to indulge in a genre he previously hasn't explored with great breadth: "As it was pitched to me, it was a big adventure film that was quite old-fashioned, but with a very fresh context," he says. "Truly, I think there's a part of all of us that wonders how we would survive on an island untouched by man. Even better, how we'd survive on an island untouched by man and inhabited by King Kong!"

Tom Hiddleston and Brie Larson in Kong: Skull IslandTom Hiddleston and Brie Larson in Kong: Skull Island

Hiddleston was involved in the project early enough that he got to have input into developing his mercenary, ex-special forces character Captain James Conrad. "I wanted him to be someone who starts off in a world weary place," he says. "And his experiences on the island give him a new humility in the face of the wonder and power of the natural world."

To make the film, director Jordan Vogt-Roberts took his cast and crew to Hawaii, Australia and Vietnam. "It was a completely unique experience," Hiddleston says. "We traveled to these extraordinary locations where nature is at its most beautiful and terrifying, where you could believe that Kong as a myth could originate."

Right after finishing the project, Hiddleston returned to his role as Loki for the third Thor movie. And he's also returning for a second series of The Night Manager, plus the top-secret continuation of the Kong/Godzilla saga, as glimpsed in Skull Island's post-credit sting. Of course, he has been sworn to secrecy. "No, I can't reveal that information," he says. "I don't know, honestly; that's in the lap of the movie gods! Legendary are very carefully developing a universe of films, and I personally find that very exciting."

But he plans to continue to seek a variety of roles. "When a new project comes along, I listen quite carefully to my first instinct," Hiddleston says. "I want to know that the experience is going to be challenging and exciting. Everything I do is always about imagination, whether I'm pretending to look out of the window of the 25th floor of a high-rise building or I'm in a jungle looking into the face of Kong. Neither of those things are true, and the job is to imagine it so that when you watch the film, you believe it."

Watch the trailer for Kong: Skull Island: