Tom Hiddleston from Total Film Issue 214 January 2014
Only Lovers Left Alive | Tom Hiddleston is a new breed of blood sucker in Jim Jarmusch’s arthouse thriller
While Twilight made movie vampires marketable again, it’s been a while since the iconic screen monsters have had edge, something that indie director Jim Jarmusch looks set to reclaim on their behalf.
First move? Casting Tom Hiddleston. Taking Loki’s goth outsider qualities to their hipster extreme, the British thesp plays Adam, a depressed rock-star vampire losing his lust for life on Earth. Holed up in a seedy dive in Detroit, he’s visited by his wife of centuries, Eve (played by Tilda Swinton), who brings her younger sister Ava (Mia Wasikowska) along for the ride.
Speaking to Buzz, Hiddleston describes Adam and Eve as “the quintessential outsiders.” Gushing about Jim Jarmusch’s offbeat approach to the material, he told us: “He has such an amazing style and he’s so dry and he’s so literate and knowledgeable about so many things: art and music and books and rock’n’roll. He knows about every single artist who’s ever lived on the fringes, and he loves it.”
And it seems these particular vampires aren’t out to make high-schoolers swoon (although, that’s a likely side effect for Hiddlestoners). In fact, they’re suffering a deep-rooted ennui, having dwelled on Earth for half a millennium. “Adam lives in a dilapidated mansion in the suburb of Detroit, making music and looking at the stars, because he’s fascinated by vibrating particles,” Hiddleston notes. “But that’s because he’s a vampire and he’s 500 years old.”
As you might expect from Hiddleston – who’s built an eclectic post-Thor CV working with the likes of Steven Spielberg, Woody Allen and Terence Davies – the philosophical side of Jarmusch’s writing appealed. Twilight might have asked, ‘When you can live forever, what do you live for?’, but it’s Only Lovers Left Alive that actually tries to answer it. “When you’ve drank and devoured world culture and literature and music for 500 years, your thoughts turn to the heavens,” muses Hiddleston. “Because those stars are about the only things that might be as old as you are, if not older.”
If it all sounds a bit heavy, the surprise comes from the film’s lightness of touch. Hiddleston describes it as, “deep and romantic, in a very offbeat way. Because these are two old souls who meditate and reflect on the nature and state of the world, and the nature of human life and art and creativity and time. They have a unique perspective on this.” But what about the laughs? “The comedy comes from the sort of… [laughs] the delivery of jokes about the passing of time, I guess. You think this might be funny, but you’re also not sure.” Indeed, Swinton, a frequent Jarmusch collaborator (their work history includes The Limits Of Control and Broken Flowers) admits she was suckered in by the “beautiful script.”
There are plenty of delicious sight gags littered throughout, from Adam’s stash of the red stuff pilfered from hospitals, to the sight of the undead feasting on plasma lollipops. And there’s a culture clash when Wasikowska’s Ava turns up. “She’s a much more traditional vampire,” according to Hiddleston. “She talks about feeding off people. Tilda says something like, “That’s so 15th Century. [laughs] And Adam and Eve call humans ‘zombies’. That’s their term for human beings.”
Dismissing any Edward Cullen comparisons, Hiddleston waxes lyrically about the romance inherent in the film’s script and style. “It’s analogue. It’s not digital. It’s full of lovely detail about everything really, but ultimately it’s about love – and that’s what I love most about it. It’s about these two very refined, delicate creatures who feel as if they might be on the verge of extinction, who accept each other for their true nature. Together they are the only lovers left alive.” JC/MMA
ETA | 21 FEBRUARY Only Lovers Left Alive opens next year.
What’s next for Tom Hiddleston?
Keeping Loki out of mischief in the coming months…
CORIOLANUS Ralph Fiennes modernised Shakespeare’s Roman general for his directorial debut, but Hiddleston’s been practising his swordplay for when he brings the role back to its roots on stage in London, from December 2013 to February 2014. It’ll also be broadcast via NT Live.
EXHIBITION Hiddleston has already filmed a short role as an estate agent in Joanna Hogg’s latest film. After starring in Hogg’s first two features – Unrelated and Archipelago – he returns for a cameo in Exhibition, which is expected to open later this year.
MUPPETS MOST WANTED Joining a raft of cameo appearances alongside new lead Ricky Gervais, The Hidds will make an appearance in the sequel to the Muppets’ successful 2011 comeback. He’s been showing off his Kermit impression on the Thor 2 promo circuit.
THE PIRATE FAIRY Sticking with Disney after Marvel and Muppets, Hiddleston’s voicing a young Captain James Hook in this DTV CGI-animated Peter Pan spin-off. Christina Hendricks voices the titular character, Zarina.
CRIMSON PEAK Drafted in as an 11th hour replacement for Benedict Cumberbatch (who pulled out due to scheduling conflicts), The Hidds joins Charlie Hunnam, Jessica Chastain and Mia Wasikowska in Guillermo del Toro’s chiller.
Considering how popular Loki (Tom Hiddleston) has become with Marvel fans, it’s no surprise that a standalone spin-off is being considered for the mischievous demigod. Marvel boss Kevin Feige has confirmed it’s a possibility, and Hiddleston’s definitely up for it: “I’d love to one day, but we’ll wait and see,” he says. “I love the character… I keep thinking up these hare-brained schemes of what else he might do.”
Thor: The Dark World Review
We all live in a post-Avengers world, a fact that must surely give Marvel confidence as it strides through the second phase of its blockbuster masterplan. As the sequels mount up, though, there is a choice to be made on which way to go, a decision to reach on the right tone to take. One might even say there’s a Thork in the road.
Do you go the big and ballsy route like Iron Man 3, upping the ante – more bangs, more villains, more metal suits – to stratospheric levels? Or should you follow the sombre path forged by The Dark Knight and its ilk – more gloom, more doom and the occasional bout of tragedy?
Duh! OK, so the ‘Dark World’ tag rather gives the game away on that front. Pleasingly, Alan Taylor’s follow-up to Kenneth Branagh’s 2011 original retains its predecessor’s sense of fun, lacing its Tolkienesque plot (evil elves plotting the Nine Realms’ destruction with the help of ancient space goo) and sober interludes (a mass funeral) with some witty gags (Thor takes the Tube! Stellan Skarsgård naked at Stonehenge!) and a delicious flock of cameos (one inevitable, the other delightfully unexpected).
Sure, Game Of Thrones director Taylor adds mud, grime and glowering skies, not least when the action decamps to rainy old London. Ultimately, however, such shadings are as cosmetic as the prosthetics used to morph Christopher Eccleston into elf leader Malekith: eye-catching, but also kind of distracting.
Because try as it might to introduce elements of pain, loss and dynastic tension, Thor 2 can’t get away from Thor himself – an unvanquishable deity from outer space who wields lightning with a flying hammer. This is not, in short, a character to be taken overly seriously, and Chris Hemsworth has played him long enough to know the balance between rock-jawed heroism and winking knowingness, even when he’s reeling from a crisis (an aerial attack on Asgard bearing unmistakable shades of 9/11) or railing against the parental dictates of Anthony Hopkins’ Odin.
Happy go Loki
In truth, Hemsworth feels a tad sidelined this time around, a bit of a passenger in his own star vehicle. Yet it could hardly be otherwise once Tom Hiddleston rejoins the party. The Brit returns to deliver all the best lines as a live-wire Loki who, having used up all his bad-guy credit in Avengers Assemble, now has a go at being his adoptive brother’s reluctant ally.
The scenes in which the squabbling siblings stage a jailbreak with the help of Thor’s pals (the only meaningful contribution made by actors Ray Stevenson, Zachary Levi and Jaimie Alexander) or fight Malekith and his Male-kin on the black dunes of Svartalfheim have a zip and brio that heaves the picture out of its second-act doldrums. Shame there’s isn’t half as much energy in Hemsworth’s dealings with astrophysicist squeeze Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), whose only function is to a) happen upon the ‘Aether’ Eccleston’s been after for millennia and b) give Thor grief for not calling.
All over the place
Portman, reportedly, was none too thrilled when first-choice helmer Patty Jenkins was ousted in favour of Taylor. We bet she wasn’t too happy either when she found out her contractually enforced participation amounted to little more than being a damsel in distress, lumbered with cumbersome dialogue like “physics are going to go ballistic!”, a drippy dinner date with Chris O’Dowd, and a sarcastic assistant – Kat Dennings’ Darcy – whose every word’s a wisecrack.
It turns out that Malekith has his eyes on The Convergence, a rare alignment of the Nine Realms that will allow him to take them all out in one fell swoop. The odd thing is that there is so little else here that’s in similar sync. The film lurches from spectacular battle scene to comedic encounter to familial reconciliation with little concern for how it all adds up (evidence of re-shoots ahoy…).
The big finale, which involves Hemsworth and Eccleston pursuing each other through multiple dimensions, is a case in point: a barrage of FX that’s as exciting to watch as it’s impossible to follow. But who’s complaining? We’re already looking forward to Guardians Of The Galaxy… NEIL SMITH
THE VERDICT Marvel’s man with the mallet does all that’s required of him in a breakneck sequel that’s never dark for long. Next time, though, we’ll have more Loki and fewer elves.