A familiar face from War Horse, Crimson Peak and the Hank Williams biopic I Saw the Light, Tom Hiddleston is probably best known as the deliciously evil Loki in the Thor and Avengers movies. Next up? The role of a conflicted hero in AMC’s The Night Manager, a six-part miniseries based on John le Carré’s bestseller, airing Tuesdays at 10/9c beginning this week.
Hiddleston plays an Iraq War vet whose quiet life of self-imposed exile is interrupted when Mi6 recruits him to infiltrate the world of a billionaire businessman (Hugh Laurie) and bring down his secret arms-dealing empire.
In this quick Q&A, the stage-trained British thespian weighs in on the globe-hopping drama, transforming into Williams, his favorite spy flicks and more…
“Daniel Craig is doing a very good job [playing James Bond] at the moment. Maybe one day.”
What drew you to this role?
Jonathan Pine was the most extraordinary prospect—captivating, courageous, vulnerable. I just wanted to play him. It was a very immediate connection. What I found fascinating about 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. He’s someone who has a great amount of vulnerability and a huge amount of doubt. I enjoyed playing the tension between his obligation to be very, very calm and very passive on the surface while he’s actually on fire beneath that.
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. I think we will always be fascinated by the complexities of what goes on behind closed doors and corridors and I think The Night Manager touches upon that.
You shot it all over the world.
It was incredibly exciting because we went to lots of places that aren’t often seen on film or television. To be in Zermatt in the shadow of the Matterhorn, which is such an iconic silhouette, on the first day of shooting felt thrilling. I posted a picture of the Matterhorn at dusk on what was the first of 75 days across many continents and many countries. It was the beginning of an incredible journey, which took us to Morocco and Mallorca and to Devon and London.
Did you like spy movies growing up?
Absolutely. I’m a huge Bond fan, if that counts as a spy movie. The Ipcress Files with Michael Caine is great.
You’d be a good James Bond.
Daniel Craig is doing a very good job at the moment. Maybe one day.
You have Thor: Ragnarok and Kong: Skull Island coming up in 2017.
Skull Island, I’m in the middle of that. We’ve been shooting in Hawaii and we’re going off to Australia and Vietnam. We’re having a great time.
Playing country legend Hank Williams in I Saw the Light must have had its challenges.
Very much so. He was such an extraordinary man. In my mind, I always think of him like a firework, a firework that was burning brightly, made people gasp in awe, and gave people delight, but then blazed and burned out very fast and died at the age of 29. I immersed myself in the facts of his life, in the music and the culture of the south, the accent. 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 was incredible.
Do you prefer playing good or bad guys?
I like playing all kinds of guys. But it’s really fulfilling to play a hero, someone who makes brave decisions for the right reasons.
Photo by Des Willie/The Ink Factory/AMC