Pin It

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

Latest Videos

The Cast of ‘Mad Men’ on the Final Season and More
Though the AMC television series Mad Men might not carry the same cultural weight that it did a few years ago (splitting your final season over two years might do that to you), the second half of the show’s final season is expected to be full of powerful performances from its ensemble cast. With the […]
Watch: Ron Perlman on His Father’s Influence on His Early Career
Ron Perlman is a prolific actor, and he has also lent his distinctive voice to a number of projects in film and television — including the new animated film The Book of Life. One of the reasons that Perlman works so hard is not only because he loves being an actor, but because of what […]
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/watch-anna-gunn-reveals-her-awkw.jpg
Watch: Anna Gunn Reveals Her Awkward ‘Breaking Bad’ Audition Details
Though Breaking Bad was obviously a career highpoint for every actor involved, they all must move on to their next projects (except for the few who are involved in the Breaking Bad spinoff, Better Call Saul). This includes Anna Gunn, who portrayed Walter White’s wife Skyler on the award-winning series series. Gunn’s new series, the […]
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/watch-conversations-with-maggie.jpg
Watch: Conversations with Maggie Q and Dylan McDermott of New CBS Series ‘Stalker’
Both Maggie Q and Dylan McDermott are TV veterans, with Q recently starring in Nikita and McDermott recently starring in both American Horror Story and Hostages. This season both star as the leads of Stalker, a drama series on CBS about LAPD detectives who specialize in crimes that have to do with stalking. In a […]
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/watch-conversations-with-the-nor.jpg
Watch: Conversations with ‘The Normal Heart’ Actor and ‘The Last Ship’ Director Joe Mantello
Joe Mantello received an Emmy nomination for his performance in HBO’s The Normal Heart, and what makes that particularly extraordinary is that it was Mantello’s first TV role since a 1998 appearance on Law & Order. In fact, besides appearing in the Broadway production of The Normal Heart in 2011, Mantello hasn’t had any other […]