Tom Hiddleston and Hugh Laurie attend TimesTalks Presents: ‘The Night Manager’ on April 11, 2016 in New York City
Tom Hiddleston and Hugh Laurie photographed by Brian Van der Brug benefits for the LA Times.
Tom Hiddleston and Hugh Laurie attend TimesTalks Presents: ‘The Night Manager’ on April 11, 2016 in New York City
**Love the way all these women swoon over him whenever he makes a talk show appearance! (:
The acclaimed star of the upcoming Hank Williams biopic I Saw the Light dishes on that big miniseries moment, whether Loki is hanging up his helmet, and his huge King Kong flick
Tom Hiddleston on His Bond Moment in ‘The Night Manager’ Finale and Loki’s Future
The acclaimed star of the upcoming Hank Williams biopic I Saw the Light dishes on that big miniseries moment, whether Loki is hanging up his helmet, and his huge King Kong flick.
Tom Hiddleston is a busy, busy man—so busy, in fact, that he’s barely able to squeeze in a proper meal. You see, the talented British actor is promoting a trio of projects: the upcoming John le Carré-adapted miniseries The Night Manager, Ben Wheatley’s gleefully anarchic head trip High-Rise, and the Hank Williams biopic I Saw the Light. We’ve convened at The Smith, a cozy restaurant in Lower Manhattan, primarily to discuss the latter film (our full interview will run later this week).
Interestingly enough, the eatery is around the corner from Webster Hall, a concert venue set to play host to a hotly anticipated reunion show by LCD Soundsystem. And at said LCD show later that evening, Hiddleston’s best mate, Benedict Cumberbatch, could be seen dancing his heart out like no one was watching. When I mention the night’s festivities, Hiddleston’s face lights up.
“Oh, I love them!” he says of LCD Soundsystem. The actor reveals there was, at one point, a trailer for High-Rise set to the band’s tune “Great Release” that they were fiddling around with, and that Hiddleston marveled over.
While New Yorkers are going batty over the LCD shows, those across the pond were glued to their couches taking in the season finale of The Night Manager, which aired on the BBC in the U.K. and debuts April 19 on AMC stateside. And the Internet took a fascination with one scene in particular during the finale, wherein Hiddleston, dressed to the nines in a bespoke suit, gestures to the bartender and utters, “Excuse me, sir. Could I have a vodka martini, please?”
The reason it caught fans’ attention is that Hiddleston’s emerged as a top contender for the role of James Bond/Agent 007, and fed the flames by recently voicing his interest to The Sunday Times: “I simply love the theme tune, the tropes, and the mythology,” he said. “I love the whole thing. If it ever came knocking, it would be an extraordinary opportunity.”
When I mention the Bond-inspired Night Manager sequence to Hiddleston, he chuckles. “Oh, right! Yeah! Honestly, I didn’t think about it as I said it,” he says. “I can’t remember if it was in the script or I improvised it. I’m pretty sure I improvised it though because, actually, [co-star] Hugh Laurie really loves a vodka martini. So I was just in that mode.”
Meanwhile, Hiddleston’s Thor co-star, Idris Elba, is the prohibitive frontrunner to succeed Daniel Craig as Bond. In late 2014, The Daily Beast unearthed an email from the Sony hack via then-studio head Amy Pascal that read, “Idris should be the next bond.”
So, do Tom and Idris joke about the Bond rumor-mill insanity?
“I know, right? We should,” jokes Hiddleston, mimicking the would-be call. “What the hell is going on?” He laughs. “Honestly, I have no control over it.”
In The Night Manager, a globe-trotting espionage-thriller, Hiddleston plays Jonathan Pine, an ex-British soldier who’s recruited by an intelligence operative to investigate a potential conspiracy involving U.S. and U.K. government involvement in the global arms trade. Pine must cozy up to international arms dealer Richard Onslow Roper (Hugh Laurie) and his fetching girlfriend, Jed (Elizabeth Debicki).
“Hugh Laurie used to say that John le Carré’s writing is like Harris Tweed, which is to say it’s so finely stitched that it doesn’t look like anything else, and it holds together. It’s not cheap,” says Hiddleston, beaming with pride over the show. “It’s pretty great that in the age of box sets and Netflix, to still have it be [a TV event]. I’m so happy to hear that people have set their watches and rushed back early to tune in.”
While Hiddleston grew up consuming miniseries like Prime Suspect, Poirot, and Inspector Morse, one of his early career breaks came when he starred opposite Kenneth Branagh in the show Wallander. Eventually, Branagh would cast Hiddleston as the villain Loki in the Marvel superhero epic Thor, changing his life forever. The third (and final?) film in the franchise, Thor: Ragnarok, is due in theaters on Nov. 3, 2017, and will begin filming in June.
“Thor 3 will be cool because I’ve not done it for four years,” says Hiddleston. “I love working with Chris [Hemsworth]. This will be my last time out of the gate.”
Wait… So you’re not going to pop up in Avengers: Infinity War?
“I don’t know! Honestly, I don’t know,” he says with a shrug. “They haven’t got their ducks in a row yet. They make it up as they go along.”
One mega-movie that’s definitely in the cards is Kong: Skull Island. Directed by Jordan Vogt-Roberts, it’s the second film in the Godzilla-King Kong shared universe (after Godzilla), and will be followed by the crossover Godzilla vs. Kong in 2020. Hiddleston just wrapped filming on Kong: Skull Island, which hits theaters March 10, 2017. In it, he plays a swashbuckling hero opposite Oscar-winner Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, John Goodman, and Toby Kebbell as mo-cap Kong. The film is reportedly set in 1970s Detroit.
“It’s cool, it’s gonna be new this time,” says Hiddleston. “Kong was a change, to play a heroic protagonist—having never really played that role before—in a massive movie. And Jordan’s vision for it is really unique: completely different time period, different story, and Kong like you’ve never seen him before. There is no young movie actress, there is no film director. It’s a re-imagining of it.”
“There’s a little extra social commentary, but it feels fresh,” he adds. “The myth behind it is more about the necessity of man’s humility in the face of nature. We keep thinking we can build a better world than nature. I’m not sure that we can.”
It’s been a ratings smash, caused meltdown on social media and an online leak of the last episode has made global headlines. But is the success of the TV adaptation of John Le Carre’s The Night Manager down to its star names – or the enduring appeal of the spy?
The mini series, a BBC co-production with US TV channel AMC and the Ink Factory – the latter company started by two of John Le Carre’s sons – stars British actor Tom Hiddleston as the enigmatic Jonathan Pine, who goes undercover to try to expose the activities of billionaire arms dealer Richard Roper, played by Hugh Laurie.
The story also features Olivia Colman as security services figurehead Angela Burr – who was a male character in Le Carre’s 1993 novel.
Each episode cost an estimated £3m to make, and one executive producer, the Ink Factory’s Simon Cornwell, says the lavish adaptation was “a risk.”
“It’s a difficult book to adapt,” he says, “and there have been quite a few attempts to make it into a film, it just didn’t work. It needed six hours to explain the story.
“But to all intents and purposes, it’s been written and shot as a film – we just hired one director, Susanne Bier, for all six episodes. I always think of it as a film – just a six-hour one.”
Despite widespread critical praise for the story, much of the attention from social media has focused on Tom Hiddleston, speculating that its success can be attributed to his popularity with viewers – particularly when he appears without his shirt.
The actor, already well-known for playing the Norse god Loki in the Marvel comic adaptations, is also currently starring in the Ben Wheatley film High Rise.
A recent sex scene in The Night Manager made Hiddleston’s rear a number one trending topic on social media – while other Twitter users have described his part as his “audition for James Bond” – a reference to the sharp suits, glamorous locations and espionage that punctuate the series.
Cornwell believes that “we hired a superstar in the making. I don’t think British audiences have ever had so much screen time with Tom Hiddleston before.
“Viewers have been able to tune in week after week to see him and have become invested in his character, and with him.
“What’s great for me is when I go and get lunch in cafes and I overhear people talking about him in the latest episode – that’s when it hits you how popular the show is.”
While the actor has previously stated he’d be interested “if Bond ever came knocking”, Hiddleston says “story is key” as far as The Night Manager is concerned in his decision to take the part – and he thinks its appeal is “down to a good spy story never going out of fashion”.
“I wonder why that is?” he speculates. “I’ve always been fascinated by that decision to sacrifice yourself, which is essentially what a spy does.
“There is an erosion of yourself, you have different passports, no attachments, no dependents, no address. You are in the service of something higher and I think that’s why most of us are so interested.
“I truly loved the character of Jonathan Pine. I was very moved by his courage. Isn’t there a saying that ‘evil persists when good men do nothing’?
“Pine is impelled to stand up for something and risk himself for a greater good, and that takes huge integrity and moral courage.”
However Hiddleston also wonders if the story would not have been relevant without an “essential reboot”.
Writer David Farr and director Bier updated many aspects of the original 1993 post-Cold war novel to include Colman as a female security service agent, but also to set it around the Arab Spring in 2011, with locations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“It now has a pertinence and a relevance to today,” Hiddleston claims. “I think we can see all too clearly that we live in a dangerous world, and we know that weapons are often sold under the table, and we know that sometimes governments can be involved.
“We don’t know where those weapons end up, and we don’t know where the enemy is. Isis and Al Qaeda have made the threat to our freedom so intangible, but I feel this story weaves it into a clear narrative and it’s something we can believe.
“But we also needed Olivia Colman as Angela Burr – she is very much the heart of the show. I was told that most of the security services these days happen to be female led, we just don’t always know their names – but she’s a different class, a different sex, and it adds a new dimension to the story.”
Danish director Bier, who won an Oscar in 2010 for her film, In A Better World, says before the series aired, “the one danger I was worried about was that audiences would switch off half way through”.
But unlike another costly adaptation, War and Peace, audience ratings for the show have actually increased as the series has gone on, rising from six million to a peak of more than eight million viewers tuning in for last Sunday’s episode on BBC One, when a major character was killed off.
However, an online leak of the last episode after DVD and Blu-Ray editions of the series were sent out early, could dent ratings for the series finale this weekend – as well as leaking plot spoilers over the internet, before the series starts in Australia and the United States.
Cornwell says he has no comment on the issue, but believes the show had, overall, “been event television”.
“It’s the fruit of a golden age of TV where big names are lining up to take part because the stories and the budgets are so good – plus actors and directors can invest in something unfolding before audiences, week after week.”
In an unprecedented move for a John Le Carre adaptation, which has also included the films Tinker Tailor Solider Spy, The Spy Who Came In from the Cold and 2005’s The Constant Gardener, there’s even been speculation that there will be a sequel for The Night Manager. That though, says Cornwell, “is most emphatically a rumour at this point”.
The final episode of The Night Manager will be shown on BBC One at 21:00 GMT on 27 March.