Tom Hiddleston can do it all.
The British actor has carved out such a diverse and unpredictable career trajectory so far, with roles ranging from a vampire in Only Lovers Left Alive and the legendary country-western singer Hank Williams in I Saw The Light to a former soldier turned night manager at a hotel in The Night Manager, which earned him a Best Actor Golden Globe early this year.
“I never wanted to limit myself to one type of project. I came from the theatre (scene) in London, I’ve done small independent films and I’ve done big superhero movies and TV series as well. I just get excited by the breadth and range of storytelling,” says the actor in an interview with international journalists at a press event promoting Kong: Skull Island, in Los Angeles, California.
The 36-year-old actor, who was born in Westminster, London, got his big break in 2011 when he was cast as Thor’s nemesis, Loki, which sealed his involvement in a slew of successful Thor and Avengers film series.
Despite his varied body of work, Hiddleston’s portrayal of Loki is probably his best-known effort so far.
Hiddleston says he isn’t worried about Loki defining the rest of his career, typecasting him into playing villains only.
“I don’t really look like him. It takes a lot of time to look like him in the morning so there’s a really conscious effort. I don’t think I could be typecast in that way,” reasons Hiddleston.
Indeed, the real Hiddleston is worlds apart from the sinister Loki. At the group interview, he comes off affable and down-to-earth. In fact, when Hiddleston was whisked away from our group interview a few minutes shy of our allotted time, the thoughtful actor later returned to speak to us.
There are no airs about him but there’s certainly a movie star quality to the actor, which might have something to do with his tall, slender frame (he stands at 1.88m), dreamy blue eyes and flawless skin.
Asked if there were any roles he would not play, Hiddleston responds: “I have turned down certain offers. I judge every project on its own merits. I don’t know if it’s just getting older, I’m more conscious about what I put out to the world.
“Our lives are short and you want to make sure that what you’re making is something that enriches people’s lives, even if it’s just giving people two hours of a good time.”
1. Why do you think viewers are fascinated by monster movies like Kong: Skull Island?
If you look at classical myths whether it’s Odysseus going against the Cyclops or the many-headed Hydra that Hercules has to fight – where if you chop off one head and two more grows back in its place – there’s something about the humility of man when they go up against these big monsters. Monsters used to roam the Earth before we turned up. We see archaeologists dig up the remains of dinosaurs. I think we’re all curious about what that must have been like.
2. You often go above and beyond when it comes to preparing for a role. What’s one character that has been the most difficulty to portray?
I think the one that felt furthest away was (country singer) Hank Williams. There was so much external and internal transformation I had to do.
I had to profoundly change the way I looked, the way I sounded, they way I sang.
He was born in Alabama in 1923, I was born in London in 1981, so we’ve had very different lives. And yet, after a while, I found a lot of common ground but that was definitely the hardest.
The research I had to do with Hank felt very necessary because he was a real person and he has surviving family members and people care about his legacy. It’s my obligation to be respectful about that.
3. How comfortable were you with the idea of having to bare all in some of your recent projects High-Rise and The Night Manager?
Just to slightly correct you, I didn’t bare all. In both instances, any partial nudity is actually thematically linked to the story.
If you read J.G. Ballard’s High-Rise (in which the film is based on), Dr Laing moves into his apartment on the 25th floor and he sunbathes in the nude because he thinks he can’t be seen. For the rest of the (film) he actually remains fully clothed. His attachment to his clothing is kind of a suit of armour.
So, it wasn’t about any kind of personal exposure, that was part of the thematic narrative – about how one man is trusting enough to be vulnerable and then realising he can’t be. If it’s a thematic part of the story, I don’t have a problem with it.
4. How are you navigating life in the public eye?
Being well known in the entertainment industry is to live in a hall of mirrors. I have to be very careful and vigilant about not allowing those distorted reflections to affect my sense of reality. I know about the reality of my life.
5. If Kong and Loki got into a fight, who would win?
Kong would flatten Loki in a second, I mean it’s all over don’t you think?
Although, Loki is highly skilled at avoiding his own death so you never know. He’ll find a way somehow at getting back at Kong. Maybe disguise himself as a horse.