WKND - - Hollywood From Strength To Strength -

Big ticket Roles: 1 es­say­ing the role of coun­try mu­sic leg­end the role of Hank wil­liams in I Saw The Light 2 Op­po­site ali­son Pill in Mid­night in Paris 3 Hid­dle­ston ( left) is best known for his por­trayal of the trick­ster god loki in the Mar­vel movie Thor

“I loved King Kong since I was a lit­tle boy,” he ex­plained. “I was a de­vout fan of the ( 1933) Fay Wray ver­sion. It went be­yond the idea that he was just a big mon­key. I’ve al­ways loved ad­ven­ture movies when peo­ple ex­plore an un­known land or new ter­ri­tory. In our civilised world, I think we’re all quite in­trigued and cu­ri­ous to think about how we would get on if we were sent to a place un­touched by man.”

Vogt- Roberts let Hid­dle­ston get in­volved in the de­vel­op­ment of his char­ac­ter. “I wanted him to be some­one who started off in this world- weary mood,” the ac­tor said. “His ex­pe­ri­ence on the is­land needed to give him a new hu­mil­ity in the face of won­der. He needed to ex­pe­ri­ence the power of the nat­u­ral world, which is what Kong rep­re­sents.”

Hid­dle­ston also wanted the story to re­flect the re­al­i­ties of war. “One of my favourite scenes is with Brie,” he said. “She asks my char­ac­ter about how he started his ca­reer. I say, ‘ I be­came a tracker for the S. A. S. be­cause my fa­ther was lost in World War II. I’ve ded­i­cated my life to re­cov­er­ing lost sol­diers.’ I loved the line where I say, ‘ No man comes home from war — not re­ally.’

“That’s a big rea­son why I wanted to do this Kong,” Hid­dle­ston said. “We start with these sol­diers who have had an ex­pe­ri­ence that’s unimag­in­able in Vietnam. There is al­ready a weight and depth to them.”

On the set, Vogt- Roberts said, he got into an easy shooting rou­tine with Hid­dle­ston. “Tom and I would de­bate if we should move on or do an­other take,” the di­rec­tor re­called. “If I’d want one more, he might say, ‘ We got it.’ I’d say, ‘ It’s only for for­ever.’ If I said, ‘ We got it, so let’s move on,’ then he would say, ‘ It’s only for for­ever.’

“The truth is, Tom has that burn­ing flame in him,” Vogt- Roberts said. “He cares about the his­tory of this art form. It’s rare to find peo­ple like him.”

Film­ing took place in Vietnam, Hawaii and Aus­tralia, a long way from a s a f e - a n d - s e c u r e Ho l l y woo d sound­stage. “One day, a brown snake came slith­er­ing by me, plus we looked up to see the webs of huge fun­nel spi­ders that I hear are quite dan­ger­ous,” Hid­dle­ston said, shiv­er­ing. “I was later told that where we were had the high­est con­cen­tra­tion of dan­ger­ous an­i­mals ( of al­most any place) on earth.”

The film i nvolved con­sid­er­able amounts of hik­ing and run­ning in ter­ror, which kept Hid­dle­ston in the gym for much of his off- time. “I trained with two for­mer Bri­tish Royal Marines and a Navy Seal,” he said. “The phys­i­cal de­mands were ex­tra­or­di­nary, but that was fine. There is no break in the phys­i­cal train­ing for me be­tween films now, since Thor was also on the hori­zon. I see it as a con­di­tion of my job to be in ex­cel­lent phys­i­cal health,” he said. “These roles re­quire stamina.”

No, he didn’t have any scenes with a gi­gan­tic ape: Kong was played by a ten­nis ball on a stick, which later would be trans­formed into Kong through the magic of com­put­er­gen­er­ated im­agery. “So much of the engagement on a film like this one is imag­in­ing where the char­ac­ter is, how big he is or how fast he is run­ning,” Hid­dle­ston said. “But I also loved the scenes where Kong wasn’t there. Give me some re­ally good di­a­logue. That’s ex­cit­ing to me.”

The fu­ture star grew up in Ox­ford­shire, Eng­land, lov­ing movies and the theatre. His mother was a stage man­ager and his fa­ther a sci­en­tist. Hid­dle­ston was ed­u­cated at Eton Col­lege and later the Univer­sity of Cam­bridge, be­fore grad­u­at­ing from the Royal Academy of Dra­matic Arts in 2005.

He made his fea­ture- film de­but in Un­re­lated ( 2007), and then was cast as the trick­ster god Loki in Thor ( 2011), a role he reprised in The Avengers ( 2012) and Thor: The Dark World ( 2013). Be­tween Mar­vel out­ings, he’s been seen in Woody Allen’s Mid­night in Paris ( 2011), The Deep Blue Sea ( 2011), Steven Spiel­berg’s War Horse ( 2011), I Saw the Light ( 2015) — in which he played coun­try- mu­sic leg­end Hank Wil­liams — and Crim­son Peak. He ven­tured into tele­vi­sion to star in the crit­i­cally ac­claimed minis­eries The Night Man­ager ( 2016), based on John Le Carre’s novel. Next up is Thor: Rag­narok. The film pits Thor against the Hulk in a glad­i­a­tor match con­trived by the ruth­less Hela ( Cate Blanchett).

Hid­dle­ston said that work­ing with New Zealand- born di­rec­tor Taika Waititi had brought fresh­ness and new life to the fran­chise. “He’s a won­der­ful di­rec­tor, re­ally spir­ited and light- hearted,” the ac­tor said. “Taika is a won­der­ful, warm spirit who loves to make peo­ple laugh. You’ll def­i­nitely see some hu­mour in the new film.”

There’s a cer­tain hu­mour to Loki, the god of mis­chief, but also more than a trace of evil. Is Loki a mon­ster? “It’s not for me to say,” Hid­dle­ston said, grin­ning. “Au­di­ences can de­cide who they want to be their monsters. Who can tell an­other what or who is scary?”

UN­SAT­IS­FAC­TORY ACT: Ra­naut's per­for­mance as Jaan­baaz ju­lia — based on Fear­less Na­dia — lacks a cer­tain some­thing

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