SPOILER ALERT: This interview contains discussions about some scenes and storylines in “Thor: Love and Thunder.”

In “Thor: Love and Thunder,” Tessa Thompson’s Valkyrie is now King Valkyrie of New Asgard. However, she has not found her queen. “You know, she’s flirty,” Thompson tells me on this week’s episode of the “Just for Variety” podcast.” She’s out in the world. She’s ready for love. She’s definitely single and ready to mingle, but also I think, when the time is right.”

Not that Thompson, who came out as bisexual four years ago, thinks romance is a necessity to show Valkyrie’s queerness. “I think a part of really being able to normalize queer characters, LBGTQIA characters, is to allow them to exist in their humanity and that doesn’t always mean that they’re in love or in a partnership because plenty of us know that sometimes you’re not. So, yeah, we’ll see if she finds love.”

I chatted with Thompson the morning after the Hollywood premiere of “Love and Thunder.” She stars in Taika Waititi’s Marvel film opposite Chris Hemsworth as Thor and Natalie Portman Jane Foster/The Mighty Thor. The movie is in theaters July 8.

The first thing I have to ask you about is the “Phantom of the Opera” t-shirt that Valkyrie wears in the movie.

I wish I could say that it was my stroke of genius, but it actually is a nod to our one of the writers on the project named Jennifer Robinson. When she first met with Taika on the film, she was wearing a “Phantom of the Opera” sweatshirt and he thought it was so charming. And so when Taika and I were having conversations around what does Valkyrie look like in her sort of plain clothes, what does she look like as king, Mayes C. Rubeo, the costume designer and I thought, “Well, what if she’s borrowing from sort of Frida Kahlo? What if she looks like Frida Kahlo as King Val?” And then it was like, “What are her plain clothes like?” And we were like, “Well, what is she into?” And Taika had mentioned this sweatshirt that he saw Jen wearing. And I was like, “That’s brilliant. Yes, of course.” She’s come to Earth and she’s really into musical theater. She loves “Cats.” She loves “Phantom.” When she has time, she leaves New Asgard and pops into New York City. She sees a couple shows. Some friends she has, they come in from Jersey and they see a couple shows together, and then she pops back to New Asgard.

When does Valkyrie get her own movie?

You’d have to ask Kevin Feige. Or she could just go straight to Broadway, which would be her dream. She could star in “Chicago.” She leaves the kingdom for six weeks and does a stint on Broadway.

Valkyrie has to find her queen.

You know, you can’t hurry love.

When Valkyrie gave one of Zeus’ maidens a little kiss on the hand, I was like, “Is that going to be her queen?”

She did give that maiden a kiss on the hand. You know, she’s flirty. She’s out in the world. She’s ready for love. She’s definitely single and ready to mingle, but she also, I think, when the time is right. And I think in terms of the representation that we talk about in the MCU, I think a part of really being able to normalize queer characters, LBGTQIA characters, is to allow them to exist in their humanity. And that doesn’t always mean that they’re in love or in a partnership because plenty of us know that sometimes you’re not. So, yeah, we’ll see if she finds love.

Does Valkyrie have a crush on Jane?

Does she have a crush? Did you see that in the film? Did you feel that?

Well, there was that moment  when you and Thor are talking and you’re like, “Oh, you have feelings for Jane”, and he’s like, “You have feelings,” and you’re like, “We’re on the same team.”

I mean, what a tangled web we weave. No, I think she just likes giving Thor a hard time. I mean, I think that’s also the fun thing about the MCU in general, is there’s a world in which you could see a lot of these characters in different multiverses ending up together. I always love seeing the fans and who they ship, who they sort of want together and the people that they’re kind of rooting for. I feel flattered anytime that Valkyrie seems to be shipped in a relationship with any of the other Marvel characters, because they’re all my friends and I have a crush on everybody in the MCU, like a friend crush.

I took a photo when I was getting my rapid COVID test at the premiere last night and it was all these people in cosplay living their best lives. How fun is that for someone to come up to you and be like, “I’m Valkyrie?”

I have to be honest, I felt really overwhelmed in the best ways last night. I guess because it’s been such a while since we’ve had a premiere and also in a time of COVID, it felt like a rarefied thing to come back and have a proper, big premiere. And I think I might have mentioned this to you last night, but I grew up in Los Angeles. I grew up in Hollywood on those very streets. I never thought I would be an actor. There were no actors in my family. I didn’t know anybody on television or on a screen. But my dad, sometimes, or my mom would take me as a treat to go to Mann’s Chinese or to the El Capitan Theatre across the street. And so then to be in a film, to see children dressed as a character that I play in a film, to remember my childhood self walking on those streets in Hollywood, going to see a film and be transported by it, I felt really overwhelmed actually seeing all of the kids especially, but the adults, everyone in costume and how enthusiastic they were. It’s like beyond anything I could have ever dreamed that I would get to be a part of.

Take it a step further. The queer kids who say to you, “Thank you, Tessa, for living your truth.”

That’s been tremendous. I’ve had so many folks write me and say that they were able to come out or to talk to their family, which is a dream.

Was there ever a time in your career where someone said to you, “You know what, Tessa? Don’t be so truthful.”

No, actually. I feel really lucky in the sense that I work in real close proximity to people that I think want to advocate for me to be myself and be the fullest expression of myself. I think the industry at large might put a tremendous amount of pressure, never mind their sexuality, but a real pressure, I think, to be a certain kind of thing. And I think that’s intensified particularly where sexual orientation is concerned and that’s a real problem. And it’s still a problem that I know friends of mine, dear friends of mine, have been deeply affected by. I think we have a tremendous amount of work to do, but I feel really lucky to exist inside of a space, both in my professional space and my personal space and familial space, where I feel really loved and supported for who I am. And I know that is a privilege that not a lot of people share. So to those folks that don’t have those spaces, I see them.

I will say this to you and I will say it to any artist who lives their truth as a queer person, you’re saving lives. I truly believe that.

I think you’re right. I don’t know, there is something powerful about seeing an image of yourself reflected in any way. But we know all too well there are some ways that really just matter because we don’t have enough of it.

Before we wrap up, I have to ask you what it was like being directed by Michael B. Jordan in “Creed III?”

It was like being directed by a really good, old dear friend. It was interesting. I didn’t know how it would be because there’s this sort of trust that you have when you are in a scene together that you are sort of in it together and someone outside of it is the person that’s going to be looking, but neither of you should hover above or below what exists between you. He had this really uncanny ability to be so present and just being my scene partner, and then pop out and look at the shot and figure it out and come back and make the adjustments that he needed to make. And also by this time, we are such like work husband and wife that he trusts me so much. I trust him so much. It was like this real shorthand that just felt really good. I was just so proud of him and the way that he handled the set and just seeing him in that space. We’ve been making these films now for almost eight or nine years. He and I have grown so much as artists, as people, as professionals, as humans. I felt proud of him in the way that you would someone in your family. I think we made a really good film.

This interview has been edited and condensed. Listen to it in its entirety on the “Just for Variety” podcast above or wherever you find your favorite podcasts.

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