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Interview: Tom Hiddleston, Actor (22nd November 2011)

He’s sparred with Hollywood’s mightiest superheroes, but Tom Hiddleston’s greatest good fortune is to have won over his idols behind the camera, he tells Siobhan Synnot.

From Marvel comic villain to leading a cavalry charge for Steven Spielberg, Tom Hiddleston has had an exciting year – even though it’s been hell on his hair. “At the start of the year they dyed it blue-black for Thor,” he grins, rubbing a fizzy mop. “Then when I was F Scott Fitzgerald in Midnight In Paris, I was blond with a touch of red. War Horse was true blond, and then it got dyed down again for The Deep Blue Sea, because the other guy in it also has quite light hair.”

Having just finished the multi-superhero blockbuster The Avengers, he’s now the colour of very bitter chocolate, and in the shadows of a winter afternoon, framed by his London hotel’s mahogany furnishings, resembles a Vermeer painting. “I look severe,” he offers. Not for long though, because he can’t help being entertaining company, mimicking everyone from Kenneth Branagh to Owen Wilson, and recounting wryly funny stories at his own expense.

In The Deep Blue Sea, for instance, the 30-year-old is sweetly earnest about director Terence Davies (“a very sensitive soul”) and his co-star Rachel Weisz (“fearless”), but admits that in a year of new experiences he was slightly dreading his first love scene. “They saved it for the end, so Rachel and I knew each other pretty well. In a sense we’d already been naked in that we’d been crying, shouting and kissing each other for weeks, but we finally did it on Christmas Eve, and let me put it this way: I didn’t eat any mince pies until Christmas Day.” He laughs sheepishly: “Terrible, isn’t it? Because you shouldn’t let vanity get in the way, but I did think ‘It would be nice to look great.’ ”

Actually, everything in Davies’ emotionally rich adaptation of Terence Rattigan’s love triangle looks gorgeous, even the bowels of London Tube stations, because it reflects the intensity of married Hester (Weisz) and her obsession with Hiddleston’s dashing but superficial ex-pilot Freddie. “Whether it’s 1952 or 2011, the emotions of Rattigan’s play never date,” says Hiddleston. “And after working on huge multi-character canvasses with Ken Branagh, Woody Allen and Spielberg, this just seemed a perfect chamber piece about the complexity of love.

“The loneliness of Hester and Freddie certainly struck a chord with me. I’ve been the independent one in a relationship, but I’ve also been the one who wanted just a circle of two.” Currently he’s happily encircled with the British actress Susannah Fielding, currently having something of an annus mirabilis herself after scoring raves as Portia in the RSC’s recent production of The Merchant Of Venice. “If you’d said to me five years ago that all this would be happening to me in just 12 months, I just would not have believed you,” says Hiddleston. “Susannah understands the demands of it because we’re both on these tours of duty, but we make sure to take care of each other.”

Hiddleston is proud of The Deep Blue Sea, but he’s equally excited by his First World War officer Captain Nicholls in War Horse, which opens in January. He had a meeting with Spielberg while filming Thor in LA, assumed they were having a pleasant pre-audition chat about Guinness and horses, and was startled when he was told the role was his. “I almost burst into tears, because here was the architect of my childhood imagination telling me I’m the real deal.” Along with Jeremy Irvine and Benedict Cumberbatch, Hiddleston was booked into a two-month intensive horse training course “where they would shout ‘Don’t ride like a cowboy’ at me.”

Most of his scenes involved trotting and cantering across a disused airfield outside Elstree in the rain. “From the top of my horse you could see a line of trenches they’d built, mechanical rats everywhere, and Spielberg on his knees in a cagoule with his lens, all muddy and loving it… On the back of his director’s chair, it doesn’t say “SS” or “Spielberg”, it says “Dad”, because he’s like a dad on set.

“He also gives actors the most fantastic notes on character. There’s one moment where I’m leading a cavalry charge… and we see they have machine-guns. Just before Spielberg shot my close-up, he said to me, ‘I don’t want fear or terror or surprise, Tom. Here’s what I want: up until you see them, you are a man – but when I say ‘guns’ I want you to de-age yourself by 20 years. I just want to strip away the man and see the boy.’ I was blown away by that, because in one shot he’d collected that this war was fought by boys who had only just become men.”

Next year it’s all-out war for Hiddleston, who will be taking on one of Kenneth Branagh’s most famous early roles, Henry V, for BBC films, then battling buffed-up all-star heroes including Robert Downey Jr’s Iron Man, Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow and Chris Evans’s Captain America in The Avengers. The Marvel blockbuster takes his breakout role in Thor as Loki, God of mischief, and upgrades it to full-fledged malevolence. “It’s me versus seven of them,” says Hiddleston. “And I say ‘Good luck to them’ frankly.”

The superheroes bonded during filming in Albuquerque, New Mexico, he says. “It’s like being in a rugby team. We used to pull up our shirts with me saying ‘Look at the size of this bruise on my hip’ and then Chris Evans pulling down his trousers going, ‘Dude, you think that’s bad – look at my ass.’ The worst was I smashed my elbow during a tête-à-tête with Mark Ruffalo’s Incredible Hulk. It really hurt.”

It’s not just comic book directors who have picked up on Hiddleston’s intelligence and range. Woody Allen wrote him a letter enclosing 15 pages of script, inviting him to spend the summer in Paris playing a character called Scott. From the script, Hiddleston deduced he was being asked to play F Scott Fitzgerald and presumed Midnight In Paris was a period drama. He only discovered otherwise when he arrived for his first day of shooting and found the film’s star Owen Wilson in modern-day duds. “Owen had to tell me the rest of the story then and there: ‘Oh no, my character goes back in time and meets all you famous writers, but actually this is a modern-day comedy.’ ”

Hiddleston wanted to act from an early age, but wasn’t always confident about pursuing it as a profession until he came to the Fringe and starred in a production of Journey’s End which earned five stars from The Scotsman. “That was the turning point,” he recalls, but his father James, a scientist and businessman, was far from convinced that his middle child should waste an Eton education and a double first from Cambridge on an uncertain career path in the performing arts.

“The only route to self-esteem is to earn your own keep,” says Hiddleston, slipping into his father’s soft Greenock burr. “He’d say, ‘You need a proper job’, and we did fight about that when I was younger, but not any more. He’s been a great support – in fact I just got a text from him saying good luck with the premiere of The Deep Blue Sea. If I was still 14 years old, I would say The Deep Blue Sea was for my mum, and War Horse is for dad, even though, of course, they will love both of them.”

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‘He thinks he has no place in the Universe. Actually he does, and there are lots of people who would like him to be part of things. So, you know, just lots of cups of tea, a lot of love, a lot of listening and a lot of time on that couch!’

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Description: Self Isolation and Lack of Tom was getting to you

Pre-Warning: Little fluff, anxiety, borderline panic attack, mentions of Covid19, reader works themselves up about possibly having the virus.

DISCLAIMER: IF THE PRE WARNING IS A TRIGGER FOR YOU OR MAKES YOU UNCOMFORTABLE I HIGHLY SUGGEST YOU READ SOMETHING ELSE

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Originally posted by brokenballads

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Tom Hiddleston Narrates New Doc ‘Earth at Night in Color’ Revealing the Nocturnal Lives of Animals 

By Kathleen Rellihan 16th November 2020

While you might have had to cancel your safari trip this year, you can still escape into the wild with Apple TV+’s new docuseries Earth at Night in Color. Filmed on six continents, as far afield as the Arctic circle to the African grasslands, this docuseries, for which Newsweek had a first look video, follows the moonlight journeys of animals, revealing never-before-seen behaviors of animal activity when the sun goes down.

With groundbreaking technology, this pioneering nature series is able to capture the earth’s last true wilderness—the night. Revealing the secret life of animals at night in color, the storytelling is dynamic and the drama is high as it’s all filmed in total darkness. Golden Globe winner Tom Hiddleston narrates, and while the British actor might be known for his breakout role as Loki in Avengers and Thor, this isn’t the first time he’s narrated a nature series. In his earlier career, he was the voice of Charles Darwin in a BBC documentary Galapagos.

It’s not just Hiddleston’s British accent that adds to the drama, to capture this secret nocturnal world the crew’s limits are tested as they are only able to film with the light of the moon. That means the crew could only film for about three nights on either side of the full moon when it’s at its brightest. So for each full moon, the crew had to deploy multiple shooting teams to different parts of the world at exactly the same time. In the jungles of Borneo, a cameraman climbed 130 feet (the equivalent of a 10-story building) into the canopy to film, and in the wetlands of South America, the crew attached a gyro-stabilized camera to a small boat to document jaguars stalking the rivers.

Earth at Night in Color shows strange things happen at night in the wild. At what once was a shadowy world is now in full-color with next-generation cameras showing the life of animals at night clear as day in a way we have never seen before. The docuseries shows the nightlife of lions, cheetahs and bears, as well as lesser-known nocturnal animals such as eagle owls and peregrine falcons.

Did you know Africa’s lions, who are mostly nocturnal, have night vision that is six times better than a human? Or that hippos are more active at night? And due to hunters, bears have had to become nocturnal and they interact with each other silently to avoid predators.

But perhaps the breakout star of Earth at Night in Color is the spectral tarsier, the most harmless-looking nocturnal creature, who is barely larger than a tennis ball and pulls at its ears in order to prime itself for hunting. Captured in the jungles of Southeast Asia, this little creature’s eye is bigger than its brain giving it night vision that’s 100 times better than humans.

So while we might be locked down this winter, we can still escape into the wonder of the natural world to see what goes bump in the night.

Earth at Night in Color is produced by Offspring Films and will premiere globally with six episodes on Friday, December 4, exclusively on Apple TV+. The second half will follow in 2021. This series is part of a trio of documentary Apple TV+ series that celebrates humanity and the wonder of the natural world.

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