I’ll freely admit that a year ago I didn’t know who Tom Hiddleston was and then I saw “Thor” on May 6, 2011. I was riveted by Thor’s backstabbing little brother, Loki, and now I am longing to see what mischief he reigns down to cause “The Avengers” to assemble on May 4. While Tom seems like a perfect choice for his breakout performance as the wickedly awesome Loki, the natural blonde originally went on a strict diet and gained 50 pounds of muscle to screen test for the role of Thor. Director Kenneth Branagh decided he was more suitable for Loki and an onscreen version of the super villain was born.
The six foot, one and a half inch tall with self-described ‘Gene Wilder’ curly blonde hair, Thomas “Tom” William Hiddleston was born in Westminster, London on February 9, 1981 and grew up in Wimbledon. He is the son of James (a scientist) and Patricia Hiddleston and has one sister, actress Emma Hiddleston. Tom is a graduate of Eton College, where, at the age of13 he decided he wanted to be an actor. To appease his disapproving dad, Tom decided to forgo drama school and went to study the Classics at Pembroke College, University of Cambridge.
Not one to dismiss his passions, during his schooling Hiddleston participated in the performing arts, acting alongside other up and coming actors Eddie Redmayne(“My Week with Marilyn”) and Rebecca Hall (“Vicky Cristina Barcelona” and “The Town”). Tom was signed by an agent who saw him in “A Streetcar Named Desire” during his second year at Cambridge. The wheels were turning now. Tom soon began working in television, appearing in a 2001 TV movie adaption of “Nicholas Nickleby,” the TV movie, “Conspiracy,” and then as Winston Churchill’s son, Randolph Churchill, in the Emmy Award winning BBC/HBO drama “The Gathering Storm” in 2002. The last performance moved Tom’s father to tears. So persistence and talent proved effective, a trend that would continue throughout Tom’s early career.
In 2005 he graduated from the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts and shortly after he was cast as Oakley in his first feature film, the award-winning “Unrelated.” But for now the interesting, juicy roles were on the stage. It began in 2006 for a European tour of classic Jacobean tragedy, “The Changeling” playing Alsemero. This was followed by his Olivier Award winning Best Newcomer of 2008 performance as Posthumus Leonatus & Cloten in a World tour of “Cymbeline” and Cassio in the Donmar Warehouse production of “Othello.” Tom remarkably beat himself for the above mentioned Olivier Award, having been nominated in the same category for his performances in “Cymbeline” and “Othello.” However he didn’t go unrewarded for his work in “Othello” – during that same period he appeared as Lvov in the West End revival of Chekhov’s “Ivanov,” and for his work in “Othello” and “Ivanov” he earned the Whatsonstage.com Theatergoers’ Choice Award for Best Supporting Actor 2008.
Liking to keep things in the family, “Ivanov” marked Tom’s fateful first occasion to work with his future “Thor” director Kenneth Branagh. Tom worked with Kenneth again as Magnus Martinsson in multiple episodes of the BBC detective drama “Wallander,” in which Kenneth played the title character, Inspector Kurt Wallander. Then again in 2010, he appeared as Edward in “Archipelago,” reuniting tom with Joanna Hogg, the creator of his first film, “Unrelated.”
2011 was the year that the world got to know Tom. Although Loki was my first experience with the 31-year-old British actor, by that time Tom had been working a working actor on stage, television and film for a over decade. Not only did he storm onto the scene as the son of the late Frost Giant king, Laufey, and the adopted son of Odin, Loki, he appeared in not one, but two critically acclaimed and Academy Award Best Picture nominated films, as literary great F. Scott Fitzgerald in the Woody Allen comedy “Midnight in Paris,” and lead the Calvary charge as Captain Nicholls Steven Spielberg’s take on the children’s novel and Tony Award winning Best Play, “War Horse.”
Tom will be back as the God of Mischief, Loki, in “The Avengers” in May and he told MTV, “In ‘The Avengers’ [Loki is] is really dark and kind of sociopathic, or maybe even psychopathic is the word, in a deluded way. Obviously I haven’t let go of the spiritual damage at the heart of him; it still comes from that lost place, but he’s just incredibly nasty. I think that probably in ‘Thor 2’ his previous actions will; he’ll have to take responsibility for what he’s done.” “Thor 2” is scheduled for theatrical release in November 2013.
There will be plenty of other opportunities to see Tom on the big screen and small screen soon. Tom stars as Freddie Page, a former Royal Air Force Pilot, having an affair with Rachel Weisz’s character in the romantic drama of “The Deep Blue Sea,” scheduled for limited release in the U.S. this spring. He is currently working on playing Henry V three times. He will appear as young Henry V, known as Prince Hal, in the BBC television adaptions of “Henry IV, Part I” and “Henry IV, Part 2” and as Henry V in “Henry V”. Tom has been attached to the crime thriller “Black Wings has My Angel” with Anna Paquin and Elijah Wood, scheduled begin filming in early fall. Hot off of that, Tom will be part of the impressive cast in Jim Jarmusch’s vampire romance, “Only Lovers Left Alive.”
Tom will never be forgotten for bringing naughty Loki to life on screen, but hopefully that role along with his other acclaimed performances will lead to a lot more scene stealing. On his current trajectory, I have no doubt that it will.
Follow Amy on Twitter at @ohmycarlisle.
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