Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Tom Hiddleston, interview: from Thor to a sell-out Coriolanus

By Chloe Fox11:00AM GMT 14 Jan 2014

Tom Hiddleston photographed for Telegraph Magazine in 2013
Tom Hiddleston photographed for the Telegraph magazine in 2013 Photo: Lorenzo Agius

There is an electric atmosphere in the auditorium of the Donmar Warehouse – more befitting a rock concert than a Shakespearean tragedy – as the audience waits for a preview performance of Coriolanus to begin.

Five years since he last appeared on this small stage as a little-known actor, Tom Hiddleston is returning as a bona fide film star.

At 32 Hiddleston has achieved the kind of success that most young actors can only dream of. His performance as Captain Nicholls in Steven Spielberg’s 2011 adaptation of the National Theatre’s War Horse was by far the film’s most memorable. But it is as Loki in Marvel Comics’ blockbusting Thor franchise that Hiddleston has generated an obsessive following.

When he made a surprise appearance in character at the international Comic-Con convention in San Diego last summer, some members of the hysterical 7,000-strong crowd actually knelt in worship. At last count, his Twitter following was approaching a million.

Hiddleston in Coriolanus at the Donmar Warehouse. Photo: Johan Persson

‘It’s mad and bananas and amazing,’ Hiddleston tells me, over a restorative full English breakfast at a central London hotel, the morning after the Coriolanus preview. ‘But I can handle it for the simple reason that it genuinely feels like it’s not real. You know when you go to a fancy dress party and everyone looks incredible and there are crazy things hanging from the ceiling? For about five hours or so, you enter into another world and then, when you come out of it, you are sitting at home with a cup of tea and a biscuit and you’re thinking to yourself, “Well, that was weird. Fun, but weird.” That’s exactly what it feels like.’

Hiddleston gives a powerhouse performance,’ said Telegraph theatre critic Charles Spencer of his Coriolanus. Photo: Johan Persson

Hiddleston’s Coriolanus is a masterclass in layering; a celebrated warrior with matinee-idol looks who is part venomous despot, part isolated soul-searcher. For a full two and a half hours, the 6ft 1in actor commands the stage with a complexity that leaves the audience in silent rapture. ‘Hiddleston gives a powerhouse performance,’ was the Telegraph critic Charles Spencer’s verdict. ‘The mixture of charisma and emotional truth in his performance is very special indeed.’

Little wonder that Coriolanus will be only the second Donmar Warehouse production to be shown live in cinemas around the world when National Theatre Live broadcasts the January 30 performance. ‘It is a huge and slightly overwhelming privilege,’ Hiddleston says. ‘I feel incredibly excited about it.’

Hiddleston as Cassio with Kelly Riley (Desdemona) and Chiwetel Ejiofor (Othello) in Othello at the Donmar Warehouse in 2007. Photo: Noriko Takasugi


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