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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.

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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.

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Over 35 Things to Know About CRIMSON PEAK From Our On-Set Interview with Guillermo del Toro [The Highlight Version]

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Though Benedict Cumberbatch and Emma Stone were initially cast, Tom Hiddleston and Mia Wasikowska were del Toro’s next choices for those roles, respectively.

Tom Hiddleston signed on within 72 hours of Cumberbatch dropping out of the film.

del Toro did some slight rewrites on the script after Hiddleston and Wasikowska were cast.

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Quint sits down with Guillermo del Toro on the set of CRIMSON PEAK to talk about ghosts and a ton of movie geek shit!

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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.

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Guillermo del Toro Interview: What You Need to Know About Crimson Peak

Tom Hiddleston on whether Tilda Swinton and David Bowie are secretly the same person (x)

Tom Hiddleston is amused by my voice recorder.

I’ve sat down with him in a quiet room at the Intercontinental in the middle of a busy Toronto Film Festival press day, and he’s intrigued by the boxy digital device I’ve pulled out of my bag.

“I’ve done your job actually, recently,” he says. “I interviewed Natalie Portman for something. It was, like, an hour-long chat, and I had to transcribe it the next day – and I was like, ‘Jesus!’”

Don’t you have people for that? I ask him jokingly.

He shakes his head and laughs. “No.”

I can think of several dozen fans who would have offered to help him out. In recent years, Hiddleston has become not just a movie star but a full-on heartthrob thanks to his breakout portrayal of the emotionally volatile Loki of the Marvel universe.

The unassuming English actor’s magnetism has been evident since his very first feature in 2007, Joanna Hogg’s terrific British drama Unrelated, but when Kenneth Branagh cast him in Thor, Hiddleston was catapulted to a new level of stardom.

Strong work followed: within the space of a month, Hiddleston delivered very different but equally memorable performances in Joss Whedon’s billion-dollar blockbuster The Avengers and Terence Davies’s The Deep Blue Sea. (Post-TIFF, Hiddleston was cast opposite Jessica Chastain and Charlie Hunnam in Guillermo del Toro’s Crimson Peak, currently wrapping up its Toronto shoot.)

But right now he’s kicking back in Jim Jarmusch’s Only Lovers Left Alive, in which he plays Adam, a louche Detroit-dwelling vampire in a centuries-long relationship with Tilda Swinton’s formidable Eve.

Hiddleston had a ball building his character’s deep, thoughtful backstory with his collaborators.

“Jim and Tilda and I met for about two weeks, six weeks before we shot,” he says. “We sat around a table every day and talked about poetry and music and science and literature and nature. We read each other Rumi and talked about Einstein’s theory of entanglement and Hamlet and the White Stripes and Fibonacci.

“It was just an amazing time of sharing all the things that we loved, filling ourselves up with so many references that we were then happy to drop, because we knew what we were talking about. You see only a third of what we came up with, you know.”

Next there was the physical aspect of the characters. The actor quickly credits Jarmusch with the frazzled, unkempt hairstyles that distinguish the movie’s undead.

“He was very keen on that,” Hiddleston says. “Hair was one of the first things we talked about. He wanted them to look like strange creatures with a feral beauty – they were sensitive and refined and sophisticated and artistic, but they were not human. They were vampires.”

All that preparation and research paid off in a performance – and a movie – that defies classification and is filled with moments of weird, unexpected comedy.

“I was simply trying to play it truthfully, but also understanding that if Jim laughed, it was good,” he says. “That kind of deadpan humour – or any humour – still always comes from the truth. You’re playing these high stakes for real, but you’re playing them to such a degree that there’s an oddness to it which is funny, I hope.”

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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”.

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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.”

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