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.