Tom Hiddleston on nude scenes, James Bond role
LOS ANGELES—The James Bond role, his exposed buns in “The Night Manager” creating a social media frenzy, playing a heroic lead in a new “King Kong” movie and more were among the topics we covered in our latest interview with Tom Hiddleston.
The University of Cambridge-educated actor has been so busy that he said that he was back home in the UK only briefly last December. He stars in the Hank Williams biopic, “I Saw the Light,” and Ben Wheatley’s drama, “High-Rise.”
In June, he will don Loki’s horned helmet again in “Thor: Ragnarok.”
In the meantime, he’s also conquering television with “The Night Manager,” based on John le Carré’s 1993 novel, which was adapted to the present.
The six-part spy-thriller series, directed by Susanne Bier, began airing in the UK last February and will debut in the United States this month.
Tom plays Jonathan Pine, a former British soldier who works as an Egyptian hotel night manager hired to infiltrate the world of a lethal arms dealer, Richard Onslow Roper (Hugh Laurie).
Excerpts from our chat:
Your fans are grousing that in your recent sex scenes, your pants never go down. (But Tom’s exposed thrusting derriere in a scene with Elizabeth Debecki in a recent episode of “The Night Manager,” aired in the UK, caused a social media frenzy.)
Yeah. Listen, they are scenes from Guillermo del Toro (“Crimson Peak”) and Susanne Bier (“The Night Manager”). They are both initiations of intimacy. And in terms of the choreography, that’s just how it kind of transpired.
I keep reading that you will be the next James Bond.
Along with every other British actor (laughs).
How do you react to these speculations?
I do think that the conversation about who’s going to play the next James Bond is like a national pastime.
There are about four conversations that happen in pubs all over the country: Who’s going to be the next James Bond? Is Britain going to leave the EU? When is the England national side going to live up to its potential? And who’s going to win “The X Factor?”
It’s one of those conversations everyone loves to have. Every time a British actor is visible and is of a certain age, he’s suddenly in the running for Bond, whether it’s Idris Elba, Damian Lewis, Tom Hardy, Michael Fassbender or Aidan Turner.
I feel like there’s a hundred people who could do it, so I find it amusing—but it’s all speculation.
Eddie Redmayne and Benedict Cumberbatch have gotten married. Is marriage something you look forward to?
It’s great for both of them. They’re both my good friends. I’m happy for them. Marriage is not something in my life yet. I am not closed to it, though.
What do you like to do when you are at home?
I haven’t been home in a while, but I’m most comfortable when I’m surrounded by my family and old friends.
I am very close to my sisters, my parents and some old friends.
Do you live in London?
I haven’t been there for a while, but yeah.
Are you considering moving permanently to Los Angeles?
Los Angeles is very much a part of my life now and that happened by accident. This is the center of the business that I’m in, so there’s always a requirement to be here at any particular time. I love being here, too.
I lived here for a long time, for about eight months when we shot the first “Thor.” I had a place in Venice. The only house I own is in London, and I intend to stay there.
What made you the man that you are today?
I’ve no idea, truthfully. I saw it as an obligation to challenge my intellectual and cultural inheritance.
In order to be your own person in the world, you have to question those tenets and moral codes that are handed down to you by your parents, teachers, education and by the era in which you live.
I feel lucky that I was encouraged by certain teachers I had at Cambridge University who demanded an academic rigor of my written work. I couldn’t just say something because it sounded good or I felt like it.
They would question me as to why I had said that and if I could back it up, which is basically to make sure that you have foundation; that you are standing on your own feet; that you’re not standing on borrowed feet from somebody else.
Eight years ago, I was traveling a lot with a touring theater company called Cheek by Jowl. We traveled all over the world with productions of classical plays. I would come back to London, and I had a flat. I started to feel uncomfortable in this flat. I didn’t really recognize who owned all that stuff.
On the advice of a friend of mine, whom you may know—[actress] Rebecca Hall—I got rid of all of my stuff. I took 33 bin liners (trash bags) of secondhand clothes to a charity shop. I sold all my furniture. I put my books in storage.
I decided to live out of just two suitcases for 12 months. It was the most enjoyable year of my life, because I felt free and available. That was an instructive year for me.
How has fame affected your life?
That takes a little bit of getting used to. It’s like a new altitude (laughs). In the end, I just tried to stay true to myself.
What you see is what you get. I hope it’s interesting to watch.
Do you still get to go to pubs?
(Laughs) I was in England briefly over Christmas. I did go to the pub. So, it’s been a while since I was in a pub. When I’m working, I don’t go to pubs so much because of the schedules that I’m on.
How do people react when they see you in a pub?
It varies, honestly. There are places where I’m invisible. In other places, I’m much more visible.
Do you disguise yourself?
Not really, no. I don’t change my appearance. Mostly, people are really sweet if they come up. They just want to say hello, shake my hand and introduce themselves, so it’s all good.
Can you talk about the range of emotions that you had to go through as Jonathan Pine in the miniseries?
There’s the journey of Jonathan Pine through the story, then there’s my journey as an actor playing him. Pine is fascinating because he’s a secret to all men and almost to himself, as well. He begins the story as a lost soul.
Pine has this military background with the British Army. He served in Iraq. He’s described by Le Carré in Chapter 3 of the novel as an itinerant hotelier, chef, caterer, collector of other people’s languages, perpetual escapee from emotional entanglement and self-exiled creature of the night.
Why do you think Le Carré’s novels have kept their appeal all these years?
As an analyst of the psyche, he understands that the self is malleable. There is a multiplicity of identity within all of us, and he plays upon that.
Have you met him?
I have. He was very involved in this. He’s got extraordinary energy.
Just to play with the series’ title, are you a night person?
I’m a night person, instinctively, yeah. When I was a student at university, I had all my best ideas at night. I would write my essays at night.
What did you learn about women as you grew up with two sisters?
Oh, gosh. I learned to always compliment them on their haircut and support them in whatever they were doing. When I was about 16, I noticed that friends who had grown up exclusively around men didn’t understand women.
What can you tell us about “Kong: Skull Island?”
It’s a complete reconception of the King Kong myth. It’s set in the ’70s and a group of desperate travelers, soldiers and explorers are hired on an expedition to the South Pacific to make a kind of reconnaissance.
They make a map of this new island that’s been funded by a wing of the government which has a degree of enigma attached to it.
They get to this island and discover things they haven’t ever seen before, as you can imagine.
The way Jordan Vogt-Roberts (director) has chosen to frame “Kong” within that time period, within a particular palette of colors, music, history and where the world was at that time is interesting. It’s cool.
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