Tom Hiddleston on His Early Years, Auditioning for Loki and What Your Real Job is as an Actor

tom-hiddleston-thor-lokiWhile it’s hard to argue against Clark Gregg‘s Agent Phil Coulson being the unexpected breakout character of the Marvel Cinematic Universe — the guy went from being a background character in Iron Man to the lead role in a television series — a close second has to be Tom Hiddleston‘s Loki. 

Hiddleston’s portrayal of the shape-shifting trickster god Loki in Thor and The Avengers has been embraced by audiences so strongly that it has threatened to overshadow the character’s heroic brother Thor.  What’s most surprising about it is that no one — not even Hiddleston himself — would have thought of the actor as having supervillain potential before Thor.  In a conversation with The New York Times, he speaks about his surprising success and his acting roots.

Though Hiddleston has an acting career that any classically trained actor would be envious of, Thor is what obviously broke him through to mainstream audiences.  He confesses that it is still very weird to him to have gained fame outside of the type of acting he was trained for.  He says, “The fame thing is so odd.  It’s interesting that I’ve had that wide impact in a role that is so unlike me.”

Despite his fame and skill, Hiddleston admits he doesn’t know exactly when he first thought about acting, revealing, “It’s rather like a murmuration of swallows. You can’t tell which bird made the first move, it just takes shape. I’m wary of imposing narratives from a safe distance. It’s always more arbitrary than it seems.”  However, he admits that a life-changing moment happened in his early teens.  He reveals, “I saw Richard Eyre’s production of Ibsen’s John Gabriel Borkman, and it hit me like a train. I had that wonderful Alice-down-the-rabbit-hole experience of developing an insatiable appetite for watching and reading that I think is very particular to those adolescent years.”

Hiddleston received some roles while attending Eton College and Cambridge University, including two HBO movies, but instead of launching right into an acting career he decided to go to drama school at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts because according to him, “I thought, ‘I’m not trained, and I’ve been lucky.’”  While the education he received there was valuable, he realized that taking himself out of the running for three years hurt him professionally.  He explains, “I kept a diary, with all the details of every audition.  After about three months, I had to stop, because it was a catalog of failure, a long list of jobs I had failed to get.” 

While he received stage work, especially after Kenneth Branagh took notice of him, television and film remained elusive.  He recalls showing up in Los Angeles for casting for pilots, pointing out, “You would turn up for every audition, and there would be a line of identical tall, blond 29-year-olds.  It was incredibly stressful. I didn’t sleep and I didn’t get any parts.”

But that connection with Branagh paid off when Branagh was hired to direct Thor and he recommended Hiddleston for Loki’s part.  Though the villain role in a big-budget franchise film wasn’t something Hiddleston ever anticipated, his instincts told him that it was a golden opportunity.  He says, “I think before, my own fear of both success and failure would have stopped me.  But I knew Ken knew what I could do, and I remember thinking: ‘I am never going to get closer. I might as well go for it.’ I put on 25 percent more muscle, got down to 7 percent body fat, knew my lines inside out. I was a man possessed.”  His dedication paid off, and Hiddleston has since embraced the character in a way that is so charming that it’s impossible not to root for both of them — Loki and Hiddleston, I mean.

However, in between his appearances as Loki, Hiddleston has kept up his Shakespearean acting.  His next role will be the lead in Coriolanus on stage, which will be broadcast on National Theatre Live next year.  When asked how he shifts from big-budget superhero films to Shakespeare with easy, Hiddleston reveals, “Your job as an actor is to find a way of being truthful in those particular circumstances.  After that it is simple.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Latest Videos

http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/wondercon-falling-skies-intervie.jpg
WonderCon: ‘Falling Skies’ Interview with Moon Bloodgood & Seychelle Gabriel
Moon Bloodgood and Seychelle Gabriel were at WonderCon to talk about the upcoming season of TNT’s ‘Falling Skies’. The show is the story of life and survival in the wake of a catastrophic alien invasion. Noah Wyle stars as Tom Mason, a college professor who became an unlikely resistance leader. Bloodgood is Dr. Ann Glass, [...]
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/wondercon-dawn-of-the-planet-of.jpg
WonderCon: ‘Dawn of the Planet of the Apes’ Press Conference with Gary Oldman & Andy Serkis
Gary Oldman, Keri Russell, Andy Serkis and Director Matt Reeves were at WonderCon to talk about the upcoming, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. I loved the first one and can’t wait for this to come out. Serkis is terrific in everything and to watch him go to e-to-toe with Oldman will be a [...]
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/wondercon-how-to-train-your-drag.jpg
WonderCon: ‘How To Train Your Dragon 2′ Press Conference with Jay Baruchel
Jay Baruchel and writer/director Dean DeBlois were at WonderCon to chat about the upcoming sequel, How To Train Your Dragon 2. In the press conference, they talk about the film, how Baruchel feels like he’s taken ownership of his character and a bit about his acting career. The film is in theaters June 13th.
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/wondercon-sean-bean-tina-majorin.jpg
WonderCon: Sean Bean, Tina Majorino, Ali Larter & Morris Chestnut Talk ‘Legends’
The cast and executive producer of TNT’s new show, Legends held a press conference at WonderCon to talk about the show, their characters and more. Legends is based on the book by spy novelist Robert Littellon and stars Sean Bean (Game of Thrones, The Lord of the Rings) as Martin Odum, an undercover agent working [...]
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/john-turturro-narrates-a-scene-f.jpg
John Turturro Narrates a Scene from His New FIlm, ‘Fading Gigolo’
John Turturro narrates a sequence from his film, Fading Gigolo. The film, which written and directed by Turturro and stars Woody Allen, Sharon Stone and Sophia Vergara, is about how Turturro’s character falls into the becoming a gigolo, thanks to his “pimp”, played by Allen.