He’s the actor everyone’s talking about. Lucy Allen caught up with Tom Hiddleston on his upcoming film I Saw the Light and TV mini-series The Night Manager plus, asked about the latest on those Bond rumours…
Tom Hiddleston is the hot favourite to be the next James Bond. The British actor admits he’s a “huge Bond fan” but when asked about whether he has had the call to be 007, he replies: “Daniel Craig is doing a very good job”.
Tom has been setting pulses racing recently as Jonathan Pine in The Night Manager, which is a contemporary take on the John le Carré 1993 novel of the same name. Next he will be appearing on the big screen as Hank Williams in I Saw the Light. The film chronicles the rise to fame of the country-western singer and its tragic effect on his personal life. Here, Tom talks about his preparation for playing Hank Williams and what attracted him to the character of Jonathan Pine.
SO TOM, YOU’RE GOING TO BE HANK WILLIAMS IN I SAW THE LIGHT?
I am. I have been. It was extraordinary to do.
DO YOU SING?
WHAT KIND OF RESEARCH DID YOU DO ON HIM?
I just immersed myself in the facts of his life and the music, in the culture of the South…
WAS THE ACCENT EASY?
In a way the hardest thing was singing and playing like him but it was a joy. I’ve always been a fan of music and to make a film about music is incredible.
ARE YOU A COUNTRY FAN?
I am now!
DID YOU TALK TO ANY OF HIS REMAINING FAMILY?
Yes, I’ve spoken to Holly, his granddaughter, who’s seen the film and she wrote me one of those emails you keep forever.
YOUR ROLE IN THE NIGHT MANAGER HAS HAD EVERYBODY TALKING. WHAT ATTRACTED YOU TO THE SHOW?
I read episode one and knew of the book and obviously I knew of le Carré and episode one came to me completely finished and pristine and Jonathan Pine is just the most extraordinary prospect. Captivating, courageous, vulnerable
– I just wanted to play him. It was a very immediate connection.
DID YOU LIKE SPY MOVIES GROWING UP?
Absolutely yes. I mean, I’m a huge Bond fan, to be completely honest, if that counts as a spy movie.
IT’S SURPRISING YOU HAVEN’T HAD THE CALL?
Daniel Craig is doing a very good job…
WITH THE NIGHT MANAGER, WERE YOU LOOKING TO PLAY SOMETHING WHERE YOU DON’T HAVE A HORRENDOUSLY DARK SECRET?
It was really fulfilling to play a hero. To play someone who makes brave decisions for the right reasons.
THE NIGHT MANAGER WAS FILMED IN SOME INCREDIBLE LOCATIONS. WHAT WAS IT LIKE TO SHOOT?
It was incredibly exciting because I feel as though The Night Manager went to lots of places that aren’t often seen on film or television. To be in the shadow of the Matterhorn, which is such an iconic silhouette, on the first day of shooting, shooting the first page of a script and representing le Carré’s writing, his first chapter, felt thrilling, because Jonathan Pine is a former soldier who has become night manager, and he’s hiding behind a different kind of uniform, buried in the snow and the silence. It was an incredible journey which took us to Morocco and Mallorca and to Devon and also in London.
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT YOUR CHARACTER’S JOURNEY?
What I found fascinating about Jonathan Pine in John le Carré’s novel and in the adaptation is there is a tension between a very calm exterior and a turbulent and chaotic interior, that he’s someone who actually has a great amount of vulnerability and a huge amount of doubt. Le Carré describes him as ‘a self-exiled creature of the night and a sailor without a destination’. And Angela Burr, played by Olivia Colman, compels him to make a commitment, and she lights a spark within him that impels him to act and to follow through on that commitment, which is to take down Richard Roper.
And, I think all the way through Susanne [Bier – director] always encouraged me to lean into the tension between his obligation to be very, very calm and very passive on the surface while he’s actually on fire beneath that, and that tension I enjoyed playing very much.
WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN DOING AN INTERNATIONAL SPY STORY NOW AND WHEN JOHN LE CARRÉ WROTE, TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY?
If there are thematic differences, I think it’s simply because the world has changed. I wasn’t around then, but I have taken on good authority that there were complexities bound up with being a spy then. But, it’s a very different world now, and our need for spies and the manner of their engagement, I think, is probably very different.
What I found very interesting, actually, is I feel as though we live now in an apparently transparent society. Everybody knows everything about everyone, and yet it still feels to me like there are so many secrets at the highest level. And I think we will always be fascinated by the complexities of what goes on behind closed doors and the corridors apart, and I think The Night Manager touches upon that. There you go.