Short List has recently interviewed Tom.
As Loki in Thor and The Avengers, he has been responsible for one of the finest celluloid villains in recent memory. But when he’s not antagonising superheroes, Tom Hiddleston is a tireless charity worker. When ShortList phoned the 32-year-old, he was midway through Unicef’s ‘Live Below The Line’ challenge, surviving on £1 per day for a week to get a glimpse of the poverty afflicting billions across the planet.
How’s the challenge going?
It’s been tough but it’s taught me humility. One-billion children in the world live on less than £1 every day of their lives, so that’s made me incredibly appreciative of every crumb I get.
Have you ever had to endure anything similar to this challenge before? Any ‘struggling actor’ period where you were living on Pot Noodles?
Super Noodles, actually [laughs]. I lived in a hostel for a short time when I was at Rada. It wasn’t great, but it was luxury compared to the poverty of some children.
From the photos of the trip, we see you enjoyed a kick-about with the kids…
I did, though they quickly realised I wasn’t Lionel Messi or David Beckham.
Have you managed to rope any Hollywood stars into following the sport?
Chris Evans told me how good the US team was after their 2010 World Cup run, all the while dressed head to toe as Captain America.
Yourself, Benedict Cumberbatch and Eddie Redmayne are flying the flag for British high society in Hollywood. All pals?
Benedict’s a dear friend – I was chatting with him this morning, mainly to grill him for information on the new Star Trek film, not that he told me anything. Eddie and I are friends, too. We went to Koreatown for karaoke. He has the voice of an angel.
Can you hold a note?
I’m told that when I sing in the car I sound like a cat being sick.
What can you tell us about the latest Thor film?
All I can tell you is it goes to other worlds and Christopher Eccleston is Malekith, Lord Of The Dark Elves Of Svartalfheim, who fans of the comic books love to hate.
You asked Chris Hemsworth to punch you for real during filming. Did it hurt?
It did, but just as a camera captures the truth, it captures falsities and sometimes I take one for the team. It was the same for the cavalry charge in War Horse. If I’d fallen it would’ve been the end, but it brought me closer to my character.
Do you get any crazy fan mail from Loki obsessives?
Lots, mostly personal fan art… very personal. There’s a moment in Thor where I jump on a spear lodged in the ground, and kick Chris Hemsworth in the chest, and some people have seen this as emblematic of my hidden talent as a pole dancer. So I get lots of pictures of me in character, exotic dancing.
Are you pining to play a hero now?
Sure, in fact my next role is playing war photographer Robert Capa in a film about his life. I see his life in heroic terms: a Hungarian kicked out of Hungary for writing against fascism, kicked out of Germany for being Jewish.
How was working with Woody Allen in Midnight In Paris?
I didn’t know it was a time- travel film until I arrived on set. Woody wrote me a letter, about four lines long, asking me to play F Scott Fitzgerald, and attached pages with my lines. I thought the whole film was set in the Twenties. So I’m dressed up in costume when I meet Owen Wilson, who I assume isn’t in costume yet. I ask what writer he’s playing, and he replies [freakishly good impression] “No, man, I’m from the future.”
You’ve just finished filming a Jim Jarmusch vampire film, alongside Tilda Swinton. Is she as intense as she seems?
The opposite. She’s so fun, just a hoot. I’d be in the make-up chair every morning while she showed me stupid YouTube videos. She introduced me to Gangnam Style. Seriously, she was into K-pop long before anyone else. She threw a party for me. Tilda Swinton on the dance floor is a force of nature. She knows how to get down.
Take the Live Below The Line Challenge for Unicef UK 29 Apr-3 May; livebelowtheline.co.uk/unicef
Tom Hiddleston admits that he had no idea how successful the record-breaking ‘Avengers’ would be on screen, despite having one of the starring roles as Loki, Thor’s mischievous adopted brother.
“You never count your chickens,” he reveals. “When you’re inside it, you’re just thinking, ‘I hope I haven’t screwed this up.’ You don’t want to be the weakest link in the chain.”
So will there be a Thor 3 after such success for both ‘Avengers’ and ‘Thor’ already – surely, so? He shifts in his seat. “These kind of films, not to get too heavy about it, all depend on the financial success of the one before, so we’ll have to see.”
Despite this, Hiddleston feels in very good hands with the director of ‘Thor 2′, currently in production – despite not having his good friend Sir Kenneth Branagh at the helm.
“Ken established the tone, so we’ve taken the baton and kept running. Alan Taylor is fantastic, one of the men responsible for ‘Game of Thrones’ which is so of that world, a very grounded, gritty, earthy world where warriors and swords and monsters and magic all meet, so his experience of that has given him a fantastic take on the whole world of Thor.
“I went to a summer screening of a Marvel short film. Ken came and so did Alan, it was very clear how much mutual respect between them and I thought, ‘ok, it’s going to be fine.’”
Although Branagh has long been celebrated as an intellectual with his hand firmly in the classics pie, Hiddleston wasn’t surprised that he got his mitts on the Marvel hero…
“He was refashioning those archetypes in space. We talked about King Lear and that kind of dynastic drama, about succession, with somebody at the top of the tree, and somebody else due to succeed the throne, there’s always a wrestling if it’s father and son… it’s all very dynastic.”
Condensing old ideas into new forms is a cause close to Hiddleston’s heart right now, as the British actor is one of the judges of a short film competition, part of the Jameson Empire Awards, held annually in London. The competition is called ‘Done in 60 Seconds’, asking amateur filmmakers from 16 markets worldwide to re-make their favourite film in 60 seconds.
This might sound like a bit of a gimmick, but Hiddleston is convinced that it’s actually in keeping with the world of cinema as we experience it on the big screen…
“I do think that homage and pastiche is part of the history of cinema. Somebody like Tarantino pays homage in every film he makes. He’s always referencing all those amazing martial arts films he watched when he worked in a video store – pulp fiction at its best. And Woody Allen’s ‘Midnight in Paris’ (where Hiddleston played F Scott Fitzgerald), was one big glorious celebration.”
What about the 60-second limitation?
“I’ve been involved in projects where, if you have less time and money, then it forces your hand to tell the story in a more economical way, and it sharpens your instinct. You say, ‘what do really need? Cut the chaff.”
And what film would Hiddleston want to whittle down to a crisp 60 seconds if he were given the chance?
“Michael Mann’s ‘Heat’,” he says without hesitation.
“It’s my favourite film, and it would really challenge me. There is no chaff in that film, it’s so lean, so rich and complicated, so much detail about LA, the police department, high class thieves, how you would reduce all that is kind of interesting.”
DigitalSpy.Co.Uk spoke to Tom about the Done in 60 Seconds Jamseson Award along with Thor: The Dark World, and if he would consider a Star Wars role! Click on the links below to watch the videos, and also check out our gallery for screen grabs!
“I thought a dash of colour on a grey Friday morning,” says Tom Hiddleston cheerfully. Clean shaven and wearing a handsome royal blue Louis Vuitton jacket, the Avengers star is looking good even by his enviably high standards – only appropriate, given his recent appointment to the BFC Menswear Committee for London Collections: Men.
After a hectic year starring in War Horse and the record-breaking smash that was Avengers Assemble, Hiddleston is already back in the guise of Loki filming Thor 2 (“Or should I say Thor – colon – The Dark World”) but first, he’s in London to promote the annual Jameson-Empire short film competition Done In Sixty Seconds. GQ sat down with Hiddleston over coffee at London’s The Arch hotel to talk Thor’s post-Avengers future, British menswear and Icelandic vodka.
GQ.com: You’re filming Thor: The Dark World at the moment – are you feeling more pressure after the success of Avengers?
Tom Hiddleston: It’s mostly self-applied pressure actually. I remember Chris [Hemsworth] and I saying over the summer when Avengers came out, where do we go now? Going into this one we were – very flatteringly – involved in big creative conversations about tone, and story. Thor and Loki are these two characters that people know and love and understand – so we have to take this in the right direction. You want to do something new – you don’t want to re-heat the same recipe in the microwave, you want to cook up something different and exciting – but you don’t want to lose the things that worked the first time. So we’re our own slave drivers, in a way. Complacency is the enemy. But that’s exciting and it’s going well. I have never seen a group of actors or a crew work harder.
How has Avengers influenced the rest of the Marvel franchises? Loki being Hulk smashed – you can’t ignore that has happened.
Yeah! [laughs] He’s certainly eaten humble pie. The springboard for us in the second Thor film is at the end of Avengers you see Thor and Loki beamed up back to Asgard. The first question that we all asked was “what happens next? What does Odin have to say about the events of Avengers?” What’s Jane Foster been up to while she wasn’t involved?” It’s really exciting, actually. We’re literally half way through – we started at the start of August and we should be finished by Christmas. It’s going beautifully.
You’re quite into your music – your “song of the day” on Twitter, for example. One of your fans had a good question: if you had to choose an artist to record the soundtrack of your life, who would it be?
Oh my god, that’s an incredible question. Let me just think about this. I’m such a soundtrack freak myself – I need to consult my computer! I wonder if it would be electronic or it would be classical? I think a mixture…
Speaking of Thor, you’ve been tweeting about Idris Elba’s Mumford & Sons video.
Yes! Well I think that’s a great album, but I’m not sure they would be the soundtrack of my life. I would love to have Bon Iver write some stuff because their music is so soulful. Sigur Rós! Yes! So, we actually shot some of Thor 2 in Iceland and it was amazing when we were actually there, driving up these volcanoes listening to Sigur Ros. It suddenly all made sense. I think I must have Icelandic ancestry – I haven’t researched it, this is completely unofficial, I just feel very at home there. Or, the further north I go the more at home I feel. I went to Hawaii in the spring and I thought “this is paradise, why don’t we all live here” but I confessed to myself that I don’t belong in a tropical environment. I belong where there are mountains and snow and clear, crisp blue skies.
So Bon Iver, Sigur Rós…
If there’s any extraordinary action – which there isn’t really – I’d want Hans Zimmer to write it. I’ve just thought of the last one and forgotten it. A film composer… not Clint Mansell, not Elliot Goldenthal… Moby! So, Bon Iver, Sigur Rós, Hans Zimmer and Moby. There we go.
How do you make your favourite drink?
When I’m at home, and I’m not just saying this, I’m very partial to a Jameson on ice. When the nights draw in it’s nice to come home, tinkle a few ice cubes in a tumbler, pour a little Jameson in and watch a movie. But if I’m going out, I’ll probably have a vodka tonic – either Kettel or Grey Goose. Actually in Iceland there was a great vodka called Reyka. We would shoot on this dormant volcano, then we’d come back when the sun went down. It was really cold – sub zero already – and I’d order a Reyka and tonic with a squeeze of lime, then go and sit in the hot tub and wait for the Northern Lights to roll in.
You’re a stylish guy. What’s your favourite piece of clothing in your wardrobe?
I have a couple. I’m very partial to a leather jacket. There’s a particular Armani leather jacket, which it fits me so well and is itself such an elegant piece of tailoring, that the combination of the two is just great. It’s somehow perfect in every weather, so I can wear it in the summer and it’s not too hot, and I can wear it in the winter and it keeps me warm. It just feels great. However, I’m very partial to a suit – and Giorgio Armani made me a three-piece suit for for the release of War Horse. I was going to wear it to the premiere, then I found out it was black tie because the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were attending! So I ended up wearing it another time. But on the inside pocket it’s inscribed to Captain Nicholls, my character from War Horse. I think it’s really special.
Are you looking forward to London Collections: Men?
Your War Horse co-star Benedict Cumberbatch walked for Spencer Hart last season.
I know – Benedict and his braces! Actually Benedict is a friend of mine and I know he’s talked about it, but I do think it’s a really creative industry. Maybe both of us a little bit later in life are starting to understand style. I think it comes hand in hand with having a visual imagination. When you work in film, you begin to understand that how people construct themselves is fascinating, and can often tell you a lot about who the person is. Benedict talked about working on Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy and the tailoring of that particular time [being an inspiration] but it’s also simply that if you work with great filmmakers and cinematographers and costume designers, you start to understand there is a delight in the beauty of a beautiful shot or a beautiful picture. If people look good in the picture then it helps!
What are you looking forward to in 2013?
At the moment I’ve got a blank canvas, and I’ve been quite deliberate about that. I’m really pleased. It’s been so long since I’ve been able to turn the corner into empty, open road. I know something great will happen and I was kind of waiting for that thing where you just fall in love. You fall in love with a possibility – a film, a character, a project – there’s no self persuasion. It’s just “I have to do that, and that’s where I’m going.”
The closing date for entries to the Jameson-Empire Done In Sixty Seconds competition is 20 January 2013. jamesonempirediss.com
How could Loki, a villain who was defeated by a single superhero in “Thor,” become a believably formidable foe for a team of six superheroes backed by S.H.I.E.L.D.? The question plagued Loki actor Tom Hiddleston, 31, when he was preparing for “The Avengers,” out on Blu-ray and DVD Tuesday.
“That was what I was so terrified I would fail to do,” Hiddleston said. “It’s a big old movie.”
Big it certainly is. “The Avengers,” which cost $220 million to make, was a popular and critical hit, earning more than $1.5 billion worldwide and making director Joss Whedon a household name. The film unites a team of A-list muscle men, many of them already stars of their own Marvel movies, including Robert Downey Jr. (“Iron Man” and “Iron Man 2″), Chris Evans (“Captain America”), Chris Hemsworth (“Thor”), Black Widow actress Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye, Samuel L. Jackson as recurring character Nick Fury and Mark Ruffalo as the Hulk.
Initially, Hiddleston — whose previous work included “War Horse,” “Midnight in Paris” and quite a few stage productions — was intimidated by the prospect of being the lone counterweight for a team of good-guy “movie stars,” he said. But once he was in the thick of it, he found his footing.
“All of those actors playing the Avengers are so collaborative. Like the code name for the film was called ‘Group Hug,’ which is so sweet,” Hiddleston said with a chuckle earlier this summer. “I wasn’t at all excluded from the group hug. I honestly felt like I was part of the team. I always feel like acting is like playing tennis. It’s not a sport that you can play on your own. And if I’m any good in this film, it’s because I was playing with Scarlett and playing with Robert and playing with the Chrises and Sam Jackson. It’s about what happens in the rally between you.”
The “rally” between actors in “The Avengers” is perhaps at its best between Hiddleston and Hemsworth. The pair began developed their characters’ relationship as foils to each other before 2011′s “Thor” — the bright, brash golden child and the shadowy, silver-tongued second son. They even worked on developing antithetical fighting styles; Hemsworth modeled his moves on boxer Mike Tyson, using his hammer like Tyson uses his fists, Hiddleston said, while Loki’s fighting was more inspired by wushu martial arts and dance choreography. Everything pointed back to Thor’s granite sense of right and wrong and Loki’s more fluid morality.
By the time “The Avengers” rolled around, it was a dance that Hiddleston and Hemsworth knew well.
“That was probably my favorite stuff,” Hemsworth said. “I’d had a relationship with Tom and that character previously. And that was where the most heart and soul in my story was.”
Director Joss Whedon said the actors playing the Asgardian brothers at odds (and at arms) could not have been better cast.
“[Hiddleston] will explore,” Whedon said. “He’ll always want another take. He’ll always want to take it further. It’s interesting to watch him and Chris together, because Chris is much more instinctual, and Tom is very thoughtful. It’s very easy to say, ‘Oh Thor’s a jock,’ and you know, he’s not that. He’s a really thoughtful actor. But he has this athletic thing of, ‘It’s gonna come now. Let’s do this.’ And then Tom’s like, ‘I want to think my way around this.’ And I’m like, ‘You guys are Thor and Loki, man!’ It’s fun, and they enjoy each other so much.”
Hiddleston was known on set for being “enormously kind and gregarious,” Whedon said, and his theater experience made him a good fit for his character.
“He’s very different than a lot of the other guys,” Whedon said. “A lot of the actors would come at it from, ‘Let’s do some scene work and shape the script,’ which I’m very comfortable with. Tom, I think possibly with all the Shakespearean training, he takes what he has, and says, ‘Well, how do I make this work,’ and is so gracious about it, and so inventive. I remember that we were doing this scene with Natasha [Romanoff, a.k.a. Black Widow], which is maybe my favorite scene in the movie. I just mentioned to him that he was killing it, and I was lovin’ his work, and all he said was, ‘Mighty words, mighty words.’ And that’s very gratifying.”
Hiddleston said he worked closely with Whedon to shape the character he developed with “Thor” director Kenneth Branagh into a villain evil and deadly enough to pose a serious threat to Nick Fury’s super squad.
“Joss and I talked about dialing up the menace and his extraordinary danger, that Loki is an incredibly dangerous, feral, anarchic and chaotic personality,” Hiddleston said. “I just had to go there and try and find a place in my headspace when I went to work that was really nasty — and enjoy it. Joss kept saying, ‘Look, enjoy it. You’ve got it. You look great. The costume’s fantastic. More feral, more dark and enjoy yourself, ’cause Loki’s having a such a good time.’”
A good time, indeed. Loki takes pleasure in executing his plan to enslave the planet, manipulating Earth’s defenders and making a show of his conquest. In “The Avengers,” Loki is no longer just a second son with a jealous streak.
“I think every human being is capable of extreme virtue and extreme vice, and most of us live within quite a narrow range on a really broad scale,” Hiddleston said. “The biggest thrill for me about playing big characters is that they exist at the extremity of the scale. And the heroes end up saving the world, and the villains are trying to destroy it. … [Loki] just seems like a lost, damaged soul who was brought up believing in a particular truth, which is that he was entitled to rule. He was a born prince, and that one day he would be a king. And then he finds out that the entire narrative of his life is a lie, that he was adopted by Odin as the neglected, abandoned bastard son of their mortal enemies. And he feels so betrayed and so hurt by that, and that’s a very relatable thing.I think that’s a very easy thing to find the truth of.
“And then what he does, rather than getting some therapy, he gives way to his anger. He gives way to all of the feelings that are conjured up by his pain, basically hate and pride and vanity. It’s motivated by loneliness. His destructiveness is motivated entirely by his spiritual desolation and the fact that he has nowhere to belong. And because he doesn’t belong anywhere, he’s trying to make the earth belong to him. And I hope you can still see that somehow, even though he basically is hateful in this film.”
Hiddleston will reprise the role for next year’s sequel, “Thor: The Dark World,” directed by Alan Taylor (“Game of Thrones”). Will Loki finally find redemption?
“I hope so, I really hope so,” Hiddleston said. “I hope you can see glimmers of it in ‘The Avengers.’ There’s a bit where we’re on the tower and Thor’s like, ‘Look around. You don’t have to do this.’ I think he’s probably going to get a hiding when he goes back home. I think his father’s going to have a few things to say. … Grounded for a long time. I haven’t read a script yet, but I know that we certainly can’t recycle what we’ve done. Loki, I think, has been about as bad as he can be.”
Can we all agree on how handsome and adorable Tom was last night for the Times Talk Madrid interview? Fantastic interview, and I loved the man who conducted it. He didn’t interrupt Tom once, and just allowed him to talk to his heart’s content. The interview went through a variety of topics from Tom’s humble beginning as a stage actor, to The Deep Blue Sea, how Tom got the role of Loki, discussed The Hollow Crown, and more. I have added some screencaptures in the gallery, sorry about the quality the video was not the best. If you have yet to see the interview, here it is.
Screen Captures > Internet Interviews > Times Talk Madrid
Tom will be live shortly on Times Talk Madrid. Be sure to tune in to his interview!
Tom Hiddleston: I never expected in my wildest dreams to play Thor’s Loki
Tom Hiddleston hit it big last year playing villainous god Loki in Thor and Captain Nicholls in War Horse. He returned as Loki in Marvel’s Avengers Assemble.
You’re now shooting Thor 2: The Dark World, playing Loki for the third time. Is it fair to say this bloke has changed your life?
He has changed things a bit! I never would have expected in my wildest dreams to be cast as Loki. I’m not immediately identifiable as a kind of planet Earth-subjugating, autocratic villain and fascist. People who’d seen Cranford wouldn’t say: ‘Yeah, the guy from Cranford would be really great for this.’ He has expanded people’s perception of what I might be capable of doing.
Didn’t you go to extreme lengths when you were auditioning for the part of Thor himself?
I really, really did. I have naturally curly blond hair, so they were thinking: ‘He’s over 6ft, can do the big Shakespeare talks and he’s blond.’ But I was too skinny so I went to the gym for six weeks, had five meals a day, gained three stone in muscle and completely changed my shape. A month later they said: ‘We’re not going to cast you as Thor but we’re so pleased with what you’ve done, we’d like to offer you the part of Loki.’
Do you think it was all meant to be?
I hope so. Chris Hemsworth is definitely Thor. He’s monumental in every meaning of that word so it all worked out for the best and I don’t have to eat lashings of chicken any more. That makes my life a lot easier.
What was it like working and hanging out with that incredible cast?
I know it sounds trite and obvious but we had a riot. Chris had a house with a swimming pool and a table tennis table and we’d all go round there for barbecues. He was recently married and making sure he enjoyed his first year of wedlock. It was huge fun and totally made up for the summer I missed in London. I had no picnics on Hampstead Heath, didn’t throw around a single frisbee in Hyde Park. But instead I had this American summer camp in Albuquerque, New Mexico, playing ping pong and going horse riding. The code name for the film was Group Hug and it really felt like that.
Loki’s intense. Do you take him home with you?
I have a shower when I get home and wash him away. I find running really helps, actually. It’s an immensely balancing thing in my life. I have all my best ideas when I’m running. I’ll run in the morning before going to work. With Marvel Avengers Assemble, I was usually sitting in the make-up chair at 5am so I was running at half past three. I think it’s something to do with punishment, self-inflicted, but also to do with getting oxygen to the brain at that time of day, then going to work. It means by the time you put the costume on, you’re really awake.
You are famously very smart. How does that help in your career?
I don’t know. I suppose I’ve always been a literary person and fascinated by words, which helps in relation to drama. I read Classics at Cambridge but that’s not to deny that, as a child, I loved superheroes. I grew up on Christopher Reeve’s Superman and, in a way, a part like Loki in a film like The Avengers is a fantastic concoction of everything I love. It’s got psychological drama, action and all the things I enjoy about acting. People do sometimes look at me like I’m using lots of big words but those are the only ones I can think of.
What else were you into as a kid besides Superman?
I used to watch Michael Keaton’s Batman on a loop. I loved it and I loved The Joker. You can get very intellectual about it. It’s almost like superheroes are a kind of modern mythology that are a bit like the Greek or Roman gods. They unite people because they can project their understanding of life on to these massive characters, with all of the same frailty that we have. They all suffer the same pride and vanity and virtue.
Didn’t your mother introduce you to acting?
She really was the one who introduced me to it as an idea in many ways. We lived in Oxford and she was the first person to take me to the Royal Shakespeare Company and the National Theatre, and introduced me to foreign-language cinema. She expanded my taste beyond just Superman and Indiana Jones.
What British stuff do you always take when you’re working abroad?
My laptop is really important to me. It’s got all my music on it but that’s not a specifically British thing.
What? No tea bags or chocolate?
I was sent a box of dark chocolate HobNobs when I was doing The Avengers. There was a little cupboard in my trailer with all of these biscuits.
Who sent them to you?
A friend of mine. It was hilarious. I had nothing but Loki’s crazy costume and horned helmet, and a whole cupboard full of dark chocolate HobNobs.
Marvel’s Avengers Assemble is out on DVD and Blu-Ray.
The last working day of 2011, and where better to spend it than in a muddy field near Oxted? It’s 8am, bloody freezing, and a cast headed by Tom Hiddleston are recreating the Battle of Agincourt for a new adaptation of Henry V, the last of the Shakespeare history plays adapted for television as part of the BBC’s contribution to the Cultural Olympiad.
Under the watchful eye of director Thea Sharrock, the rival English and French troops are briefed ahead of the biggest action scene of the film.
After a quick turn around the field, Hiddleston attempts to guide his steed into the heart of the battlefield. But horses are, apparently, not stupid. This one refuses the first three times the actor tries to ride into the mayhem. After a half-speed trial run, it’s showtime. Hiddleston and horse charge through the marauding armies, the actor roaring every few strides, striking down attackers on either side, eyes ablaze. The noise, the energy, the fog as human and horse breath engulfs the warriors, and the sense of danger as Hiddleston and horse head straight for us at high speed.
After a morning spent slaying French troops, falling from horses, and sword-fighting, Hiddleston would have every right to a restful lunch hour. Instead, as 100 or more battle weary troops trudge back past the encampment where some are camping – so committed are they to battle re-enactment – to the unit base, Hiddleston agrees to march across the soggy field to where the last remaining shard of sunlight is casting a beautiful light, so that photographer Charlie Gray can get his shot.
Then, instead of returning to his trailer, he joins the Quietus by the battlefield, in full armour, and spends most of an hour talking 19 to the dozen as his lunch gets cold.
“The first time I did it, I lost my voice,” recalls Jamie Parker. “Completely blew it on the first try, shouted my head off and lost it. Pathetic, really but you get carried away.”
“It was the first scene we shot,” Tom Hiddleston joins in. “I had to gallop along the moat of Arundel Castle with a cannon firing behind me, jump off my horse and address the army who were retreating having just had boiling oil poured on their faces. There were 30 tremendous, salty extras with me that day and I had never met any of them in my life before. I remember thinking, ‘This is for me, this is for you, this is for all of us…’”
If this all sounds a bit dramatic, that’s because it has to be. Hiddleston and Parker, two of Britain’s brightest acting talents, are sitting in the wooden stalls of Shakespeare’s Globe on a rare sunny morning, comparing notes on the stirring, throat-shredding “Once more unto the breach” speech that opens Act III of Henry V. Both can currently be seen playing Shakespeare’s heroic monarch – Parker on stage at the Globe and Hiddleston on television in The Hollow Crown, the BBC’s acclaimed series of History Plays produced by Sam Mendes. Parker’s is a hearty monarch, leaping into the groundlings, joking about the rain, but always ready with a rallying roar or sober speech. Hiddleston’s is rather more refined in a tight leather doublet, galloping on horseback and growing into his kingship frame by frame.
For both, it’s the biggest leading role of their careers so far; the biggest, Parker points out, in Shakespeare, beating even Hamlet with over 1,800 lines, “if you string together Henry IV, parts 1 and 2 and Henry V”. Both have done the triple whammy – Parker played Prince Hal at the Globe in 2010 while Hiddleston appeared in Richard Eyre’s Henry IV earlier this month before taking the lead in Henry V, directed by Thea Sharrock. “It’s one of the greatest journeys you can play – from wayward, wild, rebellious youth to compassionate, intelligent warrior poet,” says Hiddleston. “I’ve always dreamed of it.”
They are just two of a horde of Henrys currently cutting a swathe through theatres. Propeller has just brought its macho take back to Hampstead Theatre after a national tour, the Iraq war inspires a modern-day version at the Old Red Lion theatre in north London, while Theatre Delicatessen’s Falklands-flavoured promenade production has just ended a run in a former BBC building on Marylebone High Street. And last month the Michael Grandage Company announced that Jude Law has signed up to play the monarch in the West End next year. Read full article.