Her first two films, Unrelated and Archipelago, had a fearsome stillness and surgical eye for the mores of the English middle class. Both starred Tom Hiddleston, in his first film roles before becoming the fiendish Loki in the Avengers movies. To him, what set Hogg apart was her grasp of the “strange truths” of families, her knowledge that “real life is often mysterious”.
There were few visitors. On alternate Saturdays, one was Tom Hiddleston – cast in a small but pivotal role as a butter-smooth estate agent. He first met Hogg in 2005, a fortnight after leaving drama school. In 2012, he joined her after working weeks spent at Shepperton making Thor: The Dark World.
He emails to discuss his role. First was a period of research, a mastery of conveyancing and contract management. “A lot of work for a small part, but I didn’t want to screw it up.”
Albertine’s discomfort may have been unavoidable. Sharing their clothes and creating their dialogue, Hiddleston writes, “you can’t help but pour parts of yourself into Joanna’s characters, to the extent that sometimes by the end of the shoot, it’s all begun to feel alarmingly real.”
Yet Exhibition sounds not unlike a trip home. “A big budget studio film can feel necessarily like a military operation. Joanna’s set feels like a family.”
My scene partners were Mia Wasikowska and Tom Hiddleston. It was my first time working with Tom, and our reunion confirmed everything I’d felt when we first met at dinner back in September, that he’s simply a wonderful human being of great elegance and consideration. Mia is, as well, but despite the briefness of our time together, I’ve spent much more time talking to Tom. We had the most lovely conversation early in the morning, when he told me he’d read my book and remarked on various elements of it in a most kind way, quoting various lines from it. He met my sister and my daughter and completely charmed them, and after the movie comes out (NOT before), I’m sure Maddie will share the selfies they took together.
I only had two lines scheduled today, but it took 11 or 12 hours to finish the scene, and my throat was on fire by the time we were done. It’s Tom’s first scene in the picture (though not the first he’s shot), and he is striking in his first appearance. His top hat makes him remarkably tall. He’s already taller than I remembered, but the hat adds another foot in height. I told him, “There goes my being the tallest guy on set,” when he showed up. I started out in this business at 6’ 1” (I’ve shrunk an inch or so since then), and I’ve always felt relatively tall — until, that is, I ended up on SUPERNATURAL and now on CRIMSON PEAK. Ah, well, I was even overshadowed in my wedding pictures, with a 6’ 9” best man.
In “Only Lovers Left Alive,” he had both Swinton and co-star Tom Hiddleston write their dialogue for a fight scene. “These words are from Tilda, when she says, ‘This self-obsession is a waste of living that could be spent on surviving things, appreciating nature, nurturing kindness and friendship and dancing.’ ” Hiddleston has fond memories of working with his co-star: “She is so generous with her curiosity that when we were in prep, we would disappear down rabbit holes together, talking about poetry and music and history and art.” The actor said the two danced together, “mostly to the kind of Memphis soul or Detroit Motown you hear in the film.”
With Only Lovers Left Alive, British actor Tom Hiddleston teams up with Tilda Swinton and director Jim Jarmusch to wrestle the vampire genre back from the Twilight crowd, with Hiddleston and Swinton starring as two moody, music-obsessed bloodsuckers who can’t live without each other.
Was there any hesitation about stepping into the vampire world?
Absolutely none. It was amazing. I met Jim Jarmusch in November 2011, and I’d just finished shooting Avengers, and I was in New York for War Horse, which was just opening, and I was about to shoot the Shakespeare plays for PBS. So there (were) superheroes and soldiers and Shakespeare, and I met Jim and he said, “I’m going to make a film about love, and it’s about two very delicate, sophisticated creatures who love music and poetry and nature. He’s a kind of rock star musician who’s also a kind of scientist and physicist, and she’s a poet. Oh, and by the way, they’re vampires (laughs).” The vampire theme was really a framing for Jim to attempt a narrative about this theme of love, acceptance, time, creativity and mortality.
When you first watched the film with an audience, were you surprised people found it so funny?
It was really pleasing, actually, because we wanted there to be levity and lightness in it, and humour, but not in a way that seemed to be overreaching. We didn’t want to seem like we were pandering to the audience in bad taste, which would dilute the integrity of the attempt. And the attempt was really to make something very delicate and sophisticated and refined about love and acceptance and time and art and music and poetry. These are big themes, and we didn’t want to seem heavy-handed. Jim wanted to be very light on his feet. So hearing the laughter is thrilling, truly, because when you’re delivering deadpan stuff about the literature of the world, you want people to get it.
I loved that John Hurt plays Christopher Marlowe.
Yeah, it’s a lovely joke that Christopher Marlowe is still alive and well, living in Tangier with a portrait of Shakespeare on his wall with a knife through (his) head.
We asked Hiddleston if he had to choose between looking at Tilda Swinton or Chris Hemsworth all day, who would he choose.
“The dance is different, but I love dancing with both of them,” he said laughing.