Can you talk about the cast? Were these people the first choices?
DEL TORO: It’s pretty public that Benedict [Cumberbatch] was there. He came out. Then when I sent the screenplay to Jessica, I didn’t send it with any part in mind, but everyone was assuming she was going to read Edith. And then she read the part and said she wanted to play Lucille, which is the antagonist. I thought, smart girl! It’s a surprise. And then Emma [Stone] was in, Emma was out. Then Mia was the first choice after Emma. It’s been a blessing man. It’s like going out to take a spin on a Porsche.
Tom came within 72 hours of Benedict leaving. Benedict called me, Tom was my next choice, and we handed him the screenplay. I think he read it overnight, at least it felt like that for me. I had just sent it and he called back to say all the right things about the script. I needed people that could embrace the very perverse nature and the very humane. It’s a very dark but at the same time very human movie. It’s really beautiful but it’s full of really disturbing stuff. Charlie was on from the beginning, from Pacific Rim, I told him.
How is it for you when people drop out of a film? Is it jarring to reassess that character with another person in that role?
DEL TORO: Yes, of course. You need to recalibrate. But if you recalibrate and you say this is my first choice next, then it’s great. The transition was so smooth. If we had gone six months without somebody … but it was literally within hours of somebody falling out, somebody else had read it that we wanted. It was really, really great. But then you have to rewrite for the actors. And what we did is we have a very … once I gave them the biographies, we had a table work session where we read the screenplay, talked about the biography, listen to him read the part, come back, rewrite, send it back, get their voice in, and you rewrite it for them. We all went to London to see Tom in his play and then work in London with him and Jessica, to rehearse and work on what we had learned from the biographies.
How early did the cast get here before production began to do any rehearsals?
DEL TORO: Again, Charlie was the first one. He went in, and then Mia came, and then Jim, and the last two were Jessica and Tom because Jessica was shooting in New York and Tom was finishing the play in London. Mia and Charlie are playing American characters. The only American is playing an Englishman.
Tom Hiddleston has this fan base that’s very active, a little younger, female. How are they going to react to his character?
DEL TORO: I think they will like him no matter what he does. (Laughs) My daughters could see him grinding poppies, they’d be like, ‘Ohhh, he’s so sweet! He grinds them so carefully.’ My daughters are first in line. He goes by them, they go, ‘Awww.’ There is the thing they said more than any other. (Laughs)
Did they say to you, ‘He would be good?’ Or was it you saying to them at the dinner table.
DEL TORO: No, no, no. My daughters are a vital part of the way I function with the world. Without them, I wouldn’t have discovered Adventure Time, for example, which is vital for me. When I said Mia, they went, ‘Yes! Absolutely!’ Or when I said, Tom, they went, [snaps] ‘In!’ They’re completely connected to the world in a way that they keep my playlist younger. It’s not just Barry Manilow anymore. I gotta get a little hipper. (Laughs) It is now Phil Collins, and the music the young ones like. They keep me connected to the world.
The full set visit and more 1:1 interviews are still to come (I expect many a jealous fangirl email once I describe the circumstances of my Tom Hiddleston interview… I’ll just say he has the nicest-smelling trailer I’ve ever been in), but I have permission to share this chat well in advance of the embargo lift on the whole enchilada.
The latest instalment of Jaguar’s “Good to be Bad” ad campaign, starring Tom Hiddleston, has been banned for encouraging irresponsible driving.
The campaign, which started with a big-budget US Super Bowl TV ad using the strapline “It’s good to be bad”, features Hiddleston, Ben Kingsley and Mark Strong.
The latest YouTube ad, which promoted the F-Type coupe, was titled “The Art of Villainy” and explored why British actors play the best villains.
It featured Hiddleston discussing what makes a great villain and revving the car in an underground car park before driving off at speed and quoting Shakespeare’s Richard II.
The Advertising Standards Authority received a complaint that the YouTube ad encouraged unsafe driving and was therefore socially irresponsible.
Jaguar Land Rover said that the Hiddleston ad was set almost entirely in the car park and that “during this time the car barely moved”.
When the car did leave the car park, it was shown travelling at “normal road speeds”, and “accelerated briefly”, and that police were present at the filming to confirm the speed limit was not breached.
The ASA agreed that the “primary focus” of the ad was not speed.
The watchdog said that the noise of acceleration and speed with which the car left the basement “appeared to suggest significant speed within an enclosed environment”.
This was not helped by Hiddleston saying “now brace yourselves” as the car accelerated through the streets and out of a tunnel leaving other vehicles in its wake.
“We considered that the second part of the ad suggested that the car was being driven at excessive speeds and that the ad therefore encouraged irresponsible driving,” the ASA ruled. “We told Jaguar Land Rover not to portray speed of driving behaviour that might encourage motorists to drive irresponsibly in future.”
Del Toro most recently wrapped filming on his next film, Crimson Peak. The pic has been described as a classical gothic romance ghost story and stars Tom Hiddleston, Jessica Chastain, Charlie Hunnam, and Mia Wasikowska. Del Toro has normally kept to more colorful stories for his English-language pics and tackled heavier subject matter in Spanish, so Crimson Peak marks a significant “first” for the filmmaker:
“It’s the first time I tackle, on film, an adult subject in a way that is not based on a property or comic book/animation type of arena. Mimic was such a shocking experience that I made a decision back then in 1997 to do the sort of more auteristic, harder-to-pin movies in Spanish and do the big pop spectacles in English. It was finding a home at Legendary and being supported by Universal—Donna Langley was a big champion of Crimson Peak—that gave me the courage to try to bring those sort of adult tools to an English-language studio film. It is, by comparison with Hellboy or Pacific Rim, Crimson is a smaller movie, but it’s very, very personal. So it’s something I haven’t tried before and I’m very proud of it and happy.”
While he’s set to head into pre-production on Pacific Rim 2 next month, del Toro says Crimson Peak is already in fine shape despite the fact that it doesn’t open until October 2015:
“I just finished my director’s cut, which is very, very quick six weeks after wrapping because I basically cut while I shoot. I’m very close to the final cut. I’m doing a temp mix at Skywalker Sound to show the movie from beginning to end to the studio, Universal and Legendary. They’ve both seen the movie in pieces, in long, long fragments, but they haven’t seen it beginning to end. We have temp effects for basically almost everything, because again I process VFX while I shoot. I’m extremely, extremely happy with the movie.”
The filmmaker told Steve that there’s only one deleted scene from the entire film, delving a bit into his multi-tasking directorial process:
“I think that the total deleted scenes is one. Well two, in a way; the tail end of one scene and a whole scene. The rest is shaving because the reason I cut every day during the shoot is because that way I calibrate that the movie doesn’t get too long or too short. I think that you need to land under or around the low, low end of two hours in a movie. It’s so difficult for me to sit through movies that are two hours and fifty minutes, or things like that, and I really am very conscious of that. I was calibrating while we shot, so if I need to go faster I target scenes that can go faster. And if I need to go slower, I calibrate scenes that allow me to go slower.”
The team will work as “ambassadors” for the venue and “support the new vision for Nuffield as the leading producing theatre company in Southampton.”
Hiddleston said of his role: “The work speaks for itself. Nuffield feels revitalised with fresh, new creative ambition. It’s going from strength to strength and I am proud to support it every step of the way.”
Published: 21:44 GMT, 19 June 2014 | Updated: 09:04 GMT, 20 June 2014
Tom Hiddleston has been working on the nasal twang that was the distinctive trademark of country music legend Hank Williams, whom the star will portray in what he called ‘the opportunity of a lifetime’.
I wrote, fleetingly, last week that Hiddleston — famous for playing the scheming and vengeful Loki in three Marvel Comic movies as well as his brilliant portrait of Shakespeare’s Coriolanus in Josie Rourke’s scorching production at the Donmar — will tackle the part of Williams in a new film.
Yesterday, he spoke exclusively to me about the hillbilly with the ‘crooked smile and a wary eye’ he’ll play in I Saw The Light.
Starring role: Tom Hiddleston, who tweeted this picture of himself on set of I Saw The Light, is to play music legend Hank Williams in the new film
The movie will begin shooting in October in Louisiana, although Hiddleston has already started learning how to sing Williams’s doleful ballads with the help of Country & Western star Rodney Crowell. Tom will have to replicate those bluesy vocals and play the guitar.
Hiddleston told me I Saw The Light will chart the singer’s life from his turbulent first marriage to Audrey Mae Sheppard in 1944, through his early radio career to his auspicious debut, in 1949, at the home of country music, the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville.
There, Williams electrified the audience with his performance of Lovesick Blues, which reigned at No. 1 on the Billboard Country & Western charts for four months that year.
The film will get under the skin of Hank’s relationships with the aforementioned Audrey Mae, his mother Lillie, Nashville music executive Fred Rose, his band the Drifting Cowboys and second wife Billie Jean Jones Eshliman.
‘It will go all the way to his tragic death in 1953,’ Hiddleston told me. ‘He was only 29. In the intervening period, he wrote some of the greatest songs in the history of American music.’
Opportunity: Hiddleston, famous for playing Loki in three Marvel Comic movies, said the film was about ‘the man behind the myth and the power of his music’
Numbers such as Hey, Good Lookin’, Jambalaya (On The Bayou), Your Cheatin’ Heart and Take These Chains From My Heart.
‘The film is about the man behind the myth, the power of his music, the sheer voltage of his talent and charisma, and his formidable demons,’ Hiddleston continued.
‘He worked hard, played hard, lived hard — there were women, there was whiskey — but when he sang about being in the doghouse in Move It On Over, or about his heartbreak in I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry, it came from an honest place.’
Marc Abraham’s screenplay ‘pulls no punches’, the actor added, and explores Williams’s ‘shattering, self-abusive relationship with alcohol and later prescription drugs’.
The singer, who suffered debilitating back pain from a congenital disorder of the spine, died of a heart attack on New Year’s Day in 1953.
Abraham, who will also direct, saw Hiddleston in Coriolanus and knew he had his man, even though the RADA-trained British thespian may seem an unlikely fit for the farm boy from Mount Olive, Alabama.
But Abraham said Tom has the rare ability to ‘transform himself’.
Hiddleston adds: ‘Hank’s life has a tragic arc, but in simple truth, he was a genius: a star that burned twice as bright and lived half as long. It’s a huge role for me and a huge responsibility. I’m going to give it everything I’ve got.’
He means it too.
Tom told me: ‘I’ve already started singing and playing every day’.
Rodney Crowell, the Grammy-award winning country music legend, is helping.
‘He came down to visit me over the Easter weekend in Toronto where I was filming Guillermo Del Toro’s Crimson Pea” and we jammed for a day or so. It was so exciting. We had some coffee and did some talking and then we just started playing.
'It was spine-tingling just to spend a day playing some of Hank's greatest hits like Hey Good Lookin’ and Long Gone Lonesome Blues with such a gifted musician. He's already expanded my vocal range and given me a few pointers about adapting my own tone to sound like Hank. Rodney has furnished me with his beautiful J45 Gibson to practice with. And he'll be on hand throughout the shoot,’ Tom added.
He explained that Williams played rhythm guitar in 1-4-5 chord progressions that are heavily influenced by the blues greats: Mississippi John Hurt and R. L. Burnside and by country legends like Roy Acuff.
‘But his poetry, his lyrics, ache with raw vulnerability and emotion. And he sang them with all his heart.
They didn’t call him ‘The Hillbilly Shakespeare’ for nothing. How Hank sang and how Hank played – that’s the work I have to do’.
EXCLUSIVE: The Avengers star Tom Hiddleston will play Country & Western legend Hank Williams in I Saw The Light, a film that Marc Abraham will direct and which has come together as a co-production between RatPac Entertainment, Bron Studios, and Creative Wealth Media Finance, all of which will fund the film. Abraham wrote teh script based on the Colin Escott biography of Williams and Aaron L. Gilbert will produce with Brett Ratner, G. Marq Rosell and Abraham. Ratner’s partner, James Packer, will be exec producer.
Production will begin in Louisiana in October, and Hiddleston will sing such Williams’ standards as Your Cheatin’ Heart, I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry andHey Good Lookin’, after the film’s backers made a deal with Sony ATV to secure rights to the Williams music catalog. The film will tell the story of Williams’s meteoric rise to fame, and the price that fame took on his personal life. He died at age 29 of heart failure.
The British actor has starred in projects as diverse as Midnight in Paris and War Horse, but his starmaking role has been playing Thor’s evil adopted brother Loki in two Thor films and The Avengers. He’s currently shooting the Guillermo del Toro-directed Crimson Peakfor Legendary Pictures and Universal. Hamilton Hodell, WME, Authentic and Peikoff Mahan Law Office rep him.
Abraham, a producer and principal in the production companies Beacon Communications and Strike Entertainment, made his directorial debut on the Greg Kinnear-starrer Flash Of Genius, and he has produced such films as Spy Game, Dawn Of The Dead and Children Of Men. When Abraham and partner Eric Newman dissolved their partnership, Abraham said that directing the Hank Williams film was his top priority. Now, he’s getting to do it in high style.
Here’s the complete article on The Sunday Times concerning the casting rumors of Journey’s End
BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH is tipped to star in a new film version of Journey’s End, the classic play about the First World War, after Prince Andrew intervened to persuade a Hollywood studio to lift its veto on the project.
The new version of RC Sherriff’s play, first performed in 1928 with Laurence Olivier in the starring role, was given approval after Andrew wrote to the head of Warner Bros in Britain, explaining its significance to the nation.
Instead of portraying public school officers as the inept dolts parodied in the BBC comedy series, Blackadder Goes Forth, the film’s makers say it will more faithfully reflect the truth about the war. The story, set entirely in a dugout on the western front, shows a group of public school officers struggling with the pressures of trench warfare in 1918, the final year of the conflict. They are ordered by their colonel to launch a suicidal daylight raid, and, as feared, the Germans are ready for them and kill the avuncular school master who has held the company together.
Anthony Seldon, master of Wellington College, and a historical adviser to the film, said: “It is one of the great plays, telling the truth about the First World War and any war in history. It will show there is nothing grand about war and nationalism.”
An early film version in 1930 was directed by James Whale while a German remake was banned by the Nazis in 1933.
Seldon said the new film would be aimed at the US and British box office: “It’s the forgotten war for America even though its [American] death toll at 116,000 was approximately twice that in Vietnam.”
There was a backlash in 1960s theatre against Sherriff for seemingly overlooking the contribution of working-class Tommies, but the remake is timed to take advantage of the current crop of leading English actors, many of whom who went to public schools.
Cumberbatch, 37, best known for playing Sherlock Holmes, went to Harrow, while another name linked to the project is Eddie Redmayne, 32 — who starred in a television dramatisation of Birdsong, the Sebastian Faulks novel set in the First World War. He was at Eton in the same year as Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge.
Other actors set to be approached by the production company, Fluidity Films, include Tom Hiddleston, 33 — who played Loki in the Thor films, and appeared in Steven Spielberg’s War Horse — and Dominic West, 44, a star of The Wire. Both are Old Etonians. Some of the cast will be relative unknowns because some of the officers in the play are barely out of their teens.
A joint statement for Fluidity and the Sherriff estate said “the leading actors of their generation will be a part of what will be seen as a seminal film for the [First World War] centenary”. Cast members have not yet been formally attached to the film because the final contract for rights has not been signed.
The film will be directed by David Grindley, who won a Tony award for a Broadway production of the play. Guy de Beaujeu, the producer, previously made a film version of Michael Morpurgo’s First World War novel, Private Peaceful. The Duke of York was asked to intervene by Seldon after it emerged that a convoluted series of deals stretching back to 1929 meant the film could not be made.
Worldwide film rights passed from MGM to Turner Entertainment and Time Warner before ending up with Warner Bros. According to the producers and the Sherriff estate, even though Warner Bros had no intention of filming Journey’s End, the studio appeared to have a policy of never giving up the rights it held for any project, whatever the cultural significance.
A palace spokesman said Andrew met Josh Berger, head of Warner Brothers UK, at a Windsor Castle reception and wrote to the studio chief asking him to reconsider. The prince “likes to help where he can”, the spokesman said.
A 10% share of net profits from the film will be donated to charities associated with the centenary of the war, to be chosen by Andrew.