At his current trajectory, there's no doubt that Thomas William Hiddleston is on course for greatness, awards and probably medals from nations far and wide. If he goes on to become a knight of the realm and a demigod to a tribe of discerning cineastes, we certainly won’t begrudge him it. His wildly fun turn as Loki in Thor saw him mischief his way to prominence, earning him Avengers MVP status, alongside franchise lodestar Robert Downey Jr.. But it’s not just his Marvel work or – sorry Tom! – his Empire Sexiest list prominence that’s notable about him. With Jim Jarmusch's Only Lovers Left Alive offering a walk on the wan side, here’s our pick of his other roles to date.
When people talk about manners being painful, Unrelated is what they mean. Joanna Hogg, beginning a three-film (to date) partnership with Tom Hiddleston, has an acute ear as much for what goes unsaid in middle-class mingling, as she does for the occasional explosions of angry shouting that bring them to a head. Hiddleston plays Oakley, the well-to-do scion of a holiday family, as virile and confident as the group’s 40-something guest Anna (Kathryn Worth) is brittle and conflicted. There’s sexual tension – most of it coming from her – a painful misunderstanding, a car crash, a huge slanging match and some mild drug abuse, but as ever with Team Hoggleston, it’s in the stillness and understatement that the film lands its real punches.
Hiddleston has taken on musing duties for Joanna Hogg with great effect, especially in this, the Empire Strikes Back of their trilogy of movies together. There are no wampas or AT-ATs – you don’t get many in the Scilly Isles – but there is still plenty of strife and an absentee dad. The latter, unseen throughout, overshadows a small family gathering that would have been fraught with undercurrents even without an unreliable paterfamilias. Deliberately paced to mirror life’s natural cadences and unafraid to linger in some uncomfortable corners of family interaction (witness its supremely agonising restaurant sequence), it’s a terrific showcase of the actor’s flair for naturalism.
Should Hollywood make an F. Scott Fitzgerald biopic (and it should because his life was movie catnip) Hiddleston would do a mighty job of filling the literary giant's handmade brogues. We know this because he's already done it once, in Woody Allen’s hit time-travel-romance-comedy. Allen did a fine job with the story - finally, someone prepared to make Paris look romantic! – but Hiddo brought refinement and dash to the secretly bruised writer. His disintegrating marriage to Zelda (Alison Pill) is subsidiary in the movie, but was made a lot more, er, sidiary by the actor’s charm and depth.
The Hiddler has done plenty of stage work – most recently as a barnstorming Coriolanus at the Donmar Warehouse – so the theatrical elegance of Terence Davies’s Rattigan adaptation must have suited him down to its Blitz-rubble-strewn ground. With typical nuance, he plays Freddie Page, an ex-RAF man and Battle of Britain survivor whose raffish confidence masks deeper turmoil. Page is a callow man torn between his desire for a desirable but married woman (Rachel Weisz) and an impulse to run like hell from the first sign of commitment. This film features icy reserve, reckless indifference to his lover’s predicament and scenes of mild golf. If you come for the super-sharks, you’ll been disappointed.
It’s not just about movies, theatre and teaching Cookie Monster the concept of patience with To-Hi – he also gives tremendous TV. In the BBC’s Henry IV Part I and II and Henry V, he made an acclaimed Prince Hal, a role he couldn’t have been more born to play if he’d been christened ‘Hal’, his dad was king and his hair naturally grew in a saucer shape. Of course, none of that applies – his dad is a scientist and he has excellent hair – but he does effortless communicate the rare mix of noblisse oblige and warrior spirit demanded by Shakespeare’s warring royal. Producer Sam Mendes tapped him for the role and his Thor boss Kenneth Branagh (himself a former Henry V) emailed him encouragement beforehand, gestures that show the esteem in which he’s held by even hallowed stage and screen veterans.
Hiddleston is creatively encamped with Joanna Hogg – there’s a “Hogg-tied” joke here we’re not making – and their work together goes from strength to strength. Early word on this London-set slice of housing bubble realism, which arrives in April, is equally positive. T-Hiddy plays air-dried estate agent Jamie Macmillan, a man so immersed in the matter-of-factness of his trade he’d probably redevelop his own granny given the chance. It’s a lengthy cameo that showcases the less Loki-fied end of his range. We’d like to think that his realtor and the God of Mischief might share the same universe – Macmillan could show him a nice glass-encased pied à terre in an up-and-coming part of Migard – just to see Loki unleash the Chitauri on a random gazumper.