I’ve been missing Saint Tom the Huge Dork, as Tom Hiddleston has deliberately lowered his profile over the last couple years. Saint Tom the Huge Dork was born of the glory days when he was last promoting 2013’s Thor: The Dark World, and doing silly dances all over the place and generally being a huge dork. But while on hiatus from Marvel Hiddleston was focused on a more adult and less mainstream corner of film, sticking largely to smaller character pieces like Only Lovers Left Alive, and I Saw the Light. He’s out promoting his upcoming mini-series, The Night Manager, and though his new profile in The Observer has glimpses of his inner dork, on the whole this is a grown-up, somewhat more reserved Tom Hiddleston.
Does this mean no more dancing? It sure seems like it. “God, it’s so embarrassing,” he says of that infamous video of him dancing in South Korea, and somewhere deep inside London, Club Kid Tom put away his glow sticks for the last time. Of course, the dancing was from the days when he was openly and enthusiastically courting Tumblr-level fandom, and it quickly got out of hand. Hiddleston’s fans are pretty nuts. Not quite Benedict Cumberbatch/Jeremy Renner levels of nuts, but they’re in the upper atmosphere of crazy. (Chris Evans fans, check yourself—you’re creeping up there, too.) And he’s no longer into supporting it, since he’s trying to have a serious, non-Marvel career. But his recent public persona is more withdrawn, less active on Twitter and no more goofy dancing on talk shows. Too bad—I loved Saint Tom the Huge Dork. He was so fun to cover.
But there are still gems in here. Profiled by Elizabeth Day, the interview includes the tidbit that he has read 100 pages of her novel, which is a level of over-preparedness only true dorks can achieve. They also argue over who followed whom first on Twitter, which is a terrible conversation, but at least we get a decent zinger when Day compliments his “titanic brain”. “That means it goes down,” he responds. “There are no survivors.” Pretty sharp, Tom. If you’re going to replace Saint Tom the Huge Dork with Biting Repartee Tom, I can live with it.
Then they get into the issue of class division is Britain, which is basically their #OscarsSoWhite, at least in that it’s a recurring conversation about privilege and access in the arts. The British acting scene seems dominated by graduates of Eton and Harrow and prestigious repertory schools like RADA, of which Hiddleston is an alumnus himself. But he’s quick to end the conversation. “There are so many successful actors who didn’t go there,” he says, and proceeds to namecheck the likes of Michael Fassbender, Daniel Craig, and Idris Elba. I’m not sure Domhnall Gleeson should count, because he’s a legacy (he’s the son of Brendan Gleeson), and that’s a whole other issue. (Although Domhnall Gleeson is fabulous and can do whatever he wants, I love him.)
“There is an acknowledged problem of access and inequality of opportunity–I don’t know how to remedy that. But yeah, I’m on everyone’s side; I’m on the side of the actors. I’m not there to divide the world into pieces,” is how he ends that conversation. Hiddleston has gone on record as not wanting to be a political or statement-prone actor. Fine. They don’t all have to be activists. But this also smacks of a lack of awareness. It sounds sort of proto-Michael Caine. Like, if you’re just good enough, it will come to you, somehow, someday. But the whole problem is that if they come from the right school—or have the right last name—mediocre dudes excel while everyone else is expected to work twice as hard to get half as much notice. If you’re going to retire Saint Tom the Huge Dork, can we replace him with someone more interesting than Mealy Platitudes Tom?
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