Tom Hiddleston

The latest in the Marvel franchise, Thor: The Dark World, is about to be released in Australian cinemas.  I was thrilled to catch up with star Tom Hiddleston about the movie and his soaring career over the past two years. You can download the full audio of the interview by clicking here.

Matt:  You’d done some theatre and some TV but your career really has taken off since the original Thor was released back in 2011.  How would you describe the last two years?

Tom:  A roller coaster, my friend.  Everything has been beyond my wildest expectations and dreams.  Being Loki has opened up opportunities that I never had before in my life.  It’s no secret that acting is a tough game, certainly at the beginning.  We all start at the bottom and this character has been very kind to me.

Matt:  In a very short period of time, you’ve worked under Kenneth Branagh, Woody Allen, Steven Spielberg and Joss Whedon.  From the perspective of an actor, is there a lot you can learn working under these acclaimed directors?

Tom:  Oh yes, absolutely.  Their experience speaks for itself.  Kenneth Branagh has been in front of and behind the camera countless times.  I think Steven Spielberg is possibly the greatest living cinematic artist.  Some people may disagree with me on that but I think he’s a master.  And of course Woody Allen has made a film every year for the past 50 years.

You learn that it is an art form but there’s also an incredible craft to constructing a story and constructing a narrative that is entertaining and moving and engaging and makes people feel connected to the characters.  The particular rigour and discipline of those directors is really inspiring.

Matt:  And while some actors win Oscars, you won the MTV Movie Award earlier in the year for best villain in The Avengers.  We see a lot of stereotypical villains – guys with masks or eastern European accents.  But since you’ve won an award for this – what is the secret to creating a great villain?

Tom:  I couldn’t possibly tell you.  I suppose the secret to playing this particular villain is to try to have as much fun as you can.  I’ve always thought that good villains have a really enjoyable time being villains.  My favourite villains growing up had an elegance, a charm, a playfulness on the surface… even if they were motivated by a tragic, damaged psychology and hatred. 

Matt:  Marvel are very good at keeping their films under wraps.  Plot details are kept very quiet up until the day of release.  Are you contractually bound to keep it a secret and not spill the beans?

Tom:  Absolutely, yes.  It’s in my interests too.  I am the biggest fan of cinema and I go to see everything myself.  I hate it when I know everything before I’ve seen it.  Imagine if you knew what was going to happen in Inception before you see it.  Or someone had spoiled the ending of Memento for you.  Oh wow, I just so happened to have picked two Christopher Nolan films.  Like The Usual Suspects for example.  When I first saw that, I had no idea what was going to happen in the end.

Matt:  Now I haven’t seen Thor: The Dark World yet and I’m not expecting to see it until a day or two prior to its release.  Have you seen the finished product yourself?  Was it everything you thought it was going to be?

Tom:  I have seen it, yes.  It’s bigger, deeper, better, louder, more spectacular, more surprising.  I’m really proud of it.

Matt:  It feels like we’re seeing an increasing number of comic book / super hero movies being released each year.  They’re pulling in plenty of money but do you think we’re reaching a saturation point?  Or do you think the demand is there to see the number increase further?

Tom:  I don’t know.  As long as the films are fresh and have their own integrity, I think it’s absolutely fine.  It just so happens to be the particular genre we’re going through at this time.  I guess we won’t know why until we look back.  It’s funny that when you look back on the 1960s, there were so many Roman epics.  In the 1970s it was all about gangster movies and police thrillers.  In any genre, when it all starts to become formulaic, it’s where I’d be asking questions I suppose.

Matt:  These films have huge budgets – the original Thor was $150m and The Avengers was $220m.  With so much money to spend, I’ve always wondered… what’s the catering like?  Do you get really really really good food?

Tom:  Yes, that’s a good question!  The catering is great.  It’s different every time though.  Thor was shot in Los Angeles, The Avengers was shot in New Mexico and Ohio, and Thor: The Dark World was shot in London and Iceland. 

There were sequences in The Dark World where we were shooting on top of a volcano in Iceland which is four hours from the nearest residence with running water.  We’d get up at 4am and drive in a 4x4 all the way to the top of this mountain where someone from the crew is saying “would like a cup of hot coffee and some scrambled eggs?”  It’s amazing!  Scrambled eggs on top of a volcano at 4am in the morning is not bad.

Matt:  I’ll finish up by asking what’s in the works?  What are we going to see you in next?

Tom:  I’ve got a couple of things coming up.  I hope that a film I made last year with Jim Jarmusch makes it to Australia.  It’s called Only Lovers Left Alive where Tilda Swinton and I play a pair of vampire lovers who live in Detroit and Tangier.  It’s a love story that offers a unique take on the vampire genre.  Then I’m going to do a play in London that will be broadcast live across the world on 30 January 2014.  It’s Shakespeare’s Coriolanus.  In February, I start shooting a Guillermo del Toro film called Crimson Peak which is a gothic horror romance with Jessica Chastain and Mia Wasikowska. 

Matt:  Wow, life is good for Tom Hiddleston!  Thanks for speaking with us this morning.

Tom:  Thanks Matthew.