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Best of British: Tom Hiddleston

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Tom Hiddleston

30, actor

(Image: David Venni)

Was there a standout moment for you last year?

Well, Thor and Midnight In Paris came out in America within about two days of each other, but I was on the set of The Avengers in Albuquerque and missed all the hype. Then when I eventually went to see Midnight In Paris at this LA cinema that I visit every time I’m there — as a punter, totally incognito — I got recognised by Billy Crystal. It was this crazy, surreal moment — Billy Crystal coming up to me, saying, “Did I just see you in that movie?” I guess that was a turning point when I thought, “Oh, this is going well.”

Is there something you’re most looking forward to in 2012?

I’m looking forward to Henry IV [Hiddleston is playing Prince Hal], which I’m doing for the BBC. Jeremy Irons is playing my father, and Julie Walters, Simon Russell Beale and Maxine Peake are all in it. It’s going to be fantastic.

Does it give you a big surge of patriotism, delivering all those speeches?

It’s funny — it really does. My father’s Glaswegian and when I was a kid I’d always support Scotland. So I’ve always had an ambivalent relationship to the St George’s Cross. But suddenly, when there’s one on your shield, one on your elbow, and you’re saying words like, “Cry God for Harry, England and St George,” you think, “Yeah, I’m a bit English, actually.”

Do you have a new year’s resolution?

It sounds really cheesy to say it, but balance is my new year’s resolution. I tend to go hell for leather with everything — in work, in relationships, with food, drink, exercise and stuff. I just need to get the boat on an even keel, otherwise I’ll fall apart.

What would you most like to achieve in 2012?

I’m going to go on holiday. I haven’t had a formal holiday in five years. I’d like to try to surf. Possibly Cornwall? Or, if the wind took me there, Bali. Also, I don’t have a car at the moment. I would like a slightly nicer one than my old one. Basically, when I got my first pay cheque from an HBO BBC thing, way back in 2001, it was just enough to afford a Peugeot 106 1.1. I had it for 10 years, and I drove it around France and Spain, and then when I went to America for Thor I left it with my sister, whose boyfriend lived on Blackhorse Road [in north London]. I don’t think it lasted very long. So I’m in need of four motorised wheels to take me places I’ve never been. And I’ll tell you what else I’m going to do — I keep having these ideas for films that I’d like to make myself, so I’m going to start writing and directing more.

Do you feel part of a movement of interesting, young British actors?

If I’m a part of it, I’m flattered. It’s interesting, because I used to look up for inspiration, like every actor does, to people like Daniel Day-Lewis, Robert De Niro, Ken Branagh… Now I look sideways. I worked with Benedict Cumberbatch on War Horse, then he went off to do Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. He was so good. I was so proud to call him my friend — it’s one of the most electrifying performances by an actor this year. Tom Hardy — he’s doing things that I think no British actor has ever done. His performance in Warrior was visceral, pure and muscular, and it made me cry. Michael Fassbender has had an annus mirabilis with A Dangerous Method and his studio breakthrough in X-Men: First Class, where, hands down, he and James McAvoy were the best things in it. His work is just astonishing. Anyway, there is this new generation of interesting people — Felicity Jones, Craig Roberts, Andrea Riseborough. I guess when you’re inside something it doesn’t feel like a movement. I’m just putting one foot in front of the other, trying to make the best choices that I can.

Do you think this generation is breaking new ground — doing things that British actors haven’t traditionally done?

Yeah, it’s great. About five years ago, very quietly, in a back room in Hackney, the rulebook got torn up. The thing about film is, it captures the truth — but it also captures falsity. If you’re pretending, it’ll look like bullsh*t. Performance on film is all about authenticity. If somebody is absolutely right for the part, it doesn’t matter whether they were found in the Royal Academy Of Dramatic Art or in a train station.

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