April 6, 2016:
Tom Hiddleston was featured in his first SAG-AFTRA (Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artistis) Foundation Conversation moderated by Jenelle Riley of Variety. They discuss how Tom first got his SAG (Screen Actors Guild) card and the effect of the role of Loki on his future career, the process of creating and casting The Night Manager, his transformation into Hank Williams for I Saw the Light and more.
Jenelle is probably my favorite Tom Hiddleston interviewers. So many journalists ask the same questions over and over, but I always learn something new with her.
You can watch the full 70 minute interview here and I pulled out some of the best moments below.
(3:28) Tom reveals that he got his SAG card on the first Thor film. "Making that film changed my life in so many respects... nobody involved expected it to become what it's become."
(19:35) Tom talks about Hugh Laurie and how he paved the way for British actors to work in America. "He is a man of such intense passion and intelligence. He is intermittently the most irreverent man I've ever met - he's capable of having the entire set doubled over in fits of laughter - but also deeply serious and has huge integrity."
(27:10) Tom talks about his research for his role in The Night Manager by spending a night as the real Night Manager at the Rosewood Hotel in London and learning about the "CIA level" records hotels keep on their guests.
(33:30) Tom talks about making the transition from film to television. "The distinction is so much easier to make for the audience because the way it's delivered is different... but this felt like a film. The experience of it felt like a film. It was just a 365 page script as opposed to a 100 page script... (The challenge was) We were shooting out of sequence, and for such a tight thriller to stay across the detail, to stay on top of where Pine was and which version of Pine..."
(38:30) Tom on what he hopes for from a director. "A great partnership... But in the collaboration what you want is a conversation where you can talk about how a characterization and a performance can align itself with the tone of the whole thing. And every moment is another in the jigsaw puzzle of that. And that you construct those moments together. And you share secrets in a way."
(40:55) Tom talks about rewriting this scene in Crimson Peak with Guillermo del Toro on the day. "In the script, Guillermo had written this extraordinary speech, a confession of guilt. And it was very poetic and very open-hearted but very speechy...and suddenly he just said 'This doesn't feel right. It's not because of what you're doing it just isn't immediate enough, it feels too eloquent.'".
Our lovely MintMint made a doodle of the moment Tom and Jenelle act out the scene on stage.
(45:40) Tom talks about the long journey of creating I Saw the Light. "I first read the script about two months before Avengers came out. In terms of my exposure to American audiences and to the industry - I was much less well known. People didn't know who I was so much. And Marc (Abraham) had seen War Horse... Then he looked me up and he watched The Deep Blue Sea, and he watched Midnight in Paris, and I think he watched Thor. He sent the script to my agent, and he sent the script to me, and I read it, and we skyped, and we spoke on the phone. Eventually we met for dinner and every conversation we had felt like a deeper investigation of what the collaboration might be. And his great pitch was that he wanted an actor who would sing. I said to him, 'These are big boots and I don't take this responsibility lightly. He's an icon.'..."
(49:30) Tom talks about his struggles with auditioning for parts early in his career. "I had this rental Toyota Camry and I would audition for all the pilots... I realized you have to sort of dress as the character whether it was a doctor or a lawyer or a cop or a fireman or whatever the thing was. I would drive around LA with five shirts in the backseat and then change depending on whether I was going up for the doctor or the government insider or the policeman whatever. It was a very bizarre experience. But good training actually. It was really like audition bootcamp and I went back to London (and) took it much more seriously. I felt very grateful to American casting directors... At the time their program was just much more polished."
(54:45) Was there a specific moment where you felt you made it as an actor? "I don't think you ever feel like you've made it. I really have learned that actually. The only security is in your commitment to the work because you never know what's gonna happen to a project. It could championed, it could end up in the bargain bin... It was very humbling when The Night Manager came out in the U.K. (be)cause I was in Vietnam. I was finishing the shoot for Kong: Skull Island which is coming out next year for Legendary and Warner Brothers. We were in Vietnam which is a very, very beautiful place but we were in quite remote locations... Every Monday morning I would get lovely emails from Simon Cornwell and Stephen Garrett about the previous episode.. It was quite humbling to read that at five in the morning, and then put on a wetsuit and go into this swamp in Vietnam... There will always be a swamp somewhere."
(58:10) Is it hard to leave a character behind? "There's always more of a shadow or a residue than I think there's going to be."
(1:00:28) Do you think you'd make a good spy? "I think too many people know who I am now. I'm an actor so I think we are all quite open people. My experience is that actors are always very open, and that's what the job is. I think you would have to be someone who was more comfortable with having your closest feelings remain unknown. I've always thought that would be very lonely so probably not."
Tom was also photographed by Maarten de Boer for SAG.
Ah this shirt! I love this shirt! And it's the one shirt that Tom Hiddleston didn't Tom Hiddleston. He's only ever worn it to this one event.