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Tom Hiddleston talks cats, dogs, Prince & Taylor Swift

Actor discusses his role as Hank Williams

Tom Hiddleston talks cats, dogs, Prince & Taylor Swift
09 May 2016

Tom Hiddleston, as has been extensively shown, is one cool cat.

On the back of his acclaimed performances in Crimson Peak and The Night Manager, he's riding into Nashville to play the legendary country star Hank Williams in a new biopic, I Saw The Light.

We caught up with Tom to talk about the movie, as well as his dalliances with Taylor Swift and - well - animals.

You've been properly famous for a couple of years now - are you sick of these sorts of interviews yet?

"No! The truth is, it doesn't feel the same every time, because you're talking about...every time I've done these interviews, you're talking about new work that you've done. It's interesting, Thor: The Dark World came out at the end of 2013 and then I didn't show my face in public for about 18 months - I just worked. I disappeared down the rabbit hole of making stuff and that was actually the most satisfying experience because I just made a whole bunch of films - I made Crimson Peak and High Rise and I Saw The Light and here I am before you talking about I Saw The Light so, yeah, it feels new every time."

You get to wear some serious costumes in I Saw The Light. There's one outrageous all-white number with musical notes on that I remember. Did you get to keep those? Are you going to wear them on a night out any time soon?

"No, haha... the funny thing about Hank was he loved Westerns and he loved the image of the cowboy which was why he called his band The Drifting Cowboys, why he wore that 10 gallon hat. I think there was that slightly... he had real charisma, he was a real showman and he would wear the rhinestones on his shoulders and he would wear the tassles. It's interesting because Elvis came around and became a huge star - the biggest star in the world - five or six years later - and in a way Hank was Elvis before Elvis, he had his own version of that style - the slightly enlarged persona of the stage performer, which I think was what those costumes were all about."

Obviously playing Hank Williams, you did a lot of practice and learnt the songs - you must have whipped the guitar out to audition for a few people, but what was the most terrifying audience you've had to play in front of?

"In 2014, early September, I went down to Nashville to train basically, with a man named Rodney Crowell who was my executive music producer and my teacher - and he's Nashville royalty, he's a recording artist, a musician. He's been making music for forty years. He had a gig at a folk festival in Michigan called The Wheatland festival and he was playing and I went on the bus with him and his musicians and it was great because I'd never had that experience of being on the road with a band. It was day one of my musicianship training, as Hank Williams, and he said, 'Hey Tommy, I figure we just get you up on that stage and play Move It On Over' . So I played Move It On Over with very green fingers in front of 15,000 people, and that was terrifying."

Playing country music, so much of it is about the vocal and lyric - the guitar playing is fairly straightforward. Are you capable of ripping out a proper face-melting solo?

"No, no, no - absolutely not! I saw recently in the wake of Prince's passing - God rest his soul - I saw something I'd never seen which was his solo of a live performance of While My Guitar Gently Weeps by the Beatles and I stand in awe of that level of virtuosic guitar playing - I cannot do that, I would never profess to be able to do that! I can play the I, IV, V - three chords and the truth - of Hank Williams - I'm no Prince.

I don't think any of us are!


You appeared on the cover of ShortList magazine last year with Bentley the cat and last week you were on The Late Late Show with James Corden with a baby leopard. Are you thoroughly a cat man, or is there room for dog love too?

I actually have had more dogs in my life than cats I would say. When I was in our house as a family we had a dog and two cats - we had a golden retriever called Muffin, named after her mother Crumpet, who was my best friend in the world, and she was around for 10 or 12 years, and we had two cats called Orlando and Grace. By the way, I don't actually have a cat called Bentley - it's been recently reported that Bentley is my own personal cat."

Was he a loan cat then?

"Yes, Bentley was somebody else's cat for the pictures that we were taking for ShortList magazine - he was very charming - but I only had a day with him. I love dogs too - I've always wanted to have a dog actually, for myself, but I travel too much, it wouldn't be right.

You were also filmed recently in a dance-off with Taylor Swift. Are you likely to be a backing dancer for her any time soon? Are you in the squad now?

"I don't think so, no! I was sat next to her at the dinner of the Met Gala in New York and we were watching The Weeknd. The Weeknd played a set, a very short set. And she said, 'The thing about these dinners is that nobody's dancing and as a performer that's heartbreaking, so we have to help them out and dance for their encore'. So that's what we're gonna do, so I was like "Sure. OK" and I did that with her, it was fun."

Finally, you're obviously very good at impressions, and I'm sure of being asked to do them by now, but nevertheless, seeing as he's going to be President soon - how's your Trump?

"Oh I do not want to give the man any air time! So I'm just going to leave it there if that's alright!"

I Saw The Light is in cinemas now