Tom Hiddleston has been extraordinarily busy for the last few years. The schedule for the last couple of years alone would have seen off some of us.
Just since late 2014 he has starred in an award-winning theatre run of Shakespeare’s Coriolanus, filmed half a dozen feature films, plus cameos and voices for another couple, done an advert series for Jaguar cars and starred in the BBC’s multi-award winning The Night Manager. The Night Manager was six feature-length episodes with Hiddleston on screen for most of the time.
And that doesn’t include all the publicity, photo shoots and interviews for all of the above, and many fashion shoots including for Gucci, with whom he recently started working.
He also traveled twice to war-torn South Sudan for UNICEF, for whom he is a passionate ambassador.
“I just needed to take a moment to catch up with myself a bit,” the actor explained. “The kitchen is looking like it needs a few repairs. I have been away from home for a while. It’s nothing major. I’m just having a breather.”
Obviously, for Tom, having a breather doesn’t involve lazing around not doing anything. He’s still been doing the rounds. Kong: Skull Island has its premiere in UK in a few days, so there has been publicity for that. Then there are the awards, both presenting and receiving. And he’s been receiving quite a few, including a Golden Globe for The Night Manager.
The time off, though, has given him a much appreciated chance to spend time with family and friends, and read. “I have been reading a lot. There is virtually no anxiety that can’t be cured by an hour or two of good reading” he claims.
And after three or four years of being mostly away from home, “Catching up with my good friends and my family has been really nice.”
Tom also has a thing for music. He plays piano and guitar, notably performing the music for his role as Hank Williams in last year’s biopic I Saw The Light.
He says he’d “love to be a better musician. I am not technically adept. I am a competent rhythm guitarist, but only because of playing Hank. I play the piano for myself when I have the time.”
He has said previously that he develops a playlist for each role, listening to it throughout filming. For 1970’s set Kong, it was early Rolling Stones and Creedence Clearwater Revival.
Hiddleston is a strong believer in the power of music to change us, and says “There’s a phrase that sticks in my mind, by renaissance essayist Walter Pater, who said, ‘All art aspires to the condition of music.’ Music is the highest art form, the most immediately evocative and inspiring.”
“If you have had a stressful day, and you listen to beautiful music, it can lift you out of your anxiety and it can heal and transform.”
He also loves poetry, describing it as “a beautiful and ancient art form”. Fortunately, he loves to read it aloud almost as much as his fans, ‘Hiddlestoners’, love hearing him reading it. Reading anything, in fact. He was once asked to read maths equations on BBC Radio 1, and the presenter is reported to have described it as “really educational and slightly erotic.”
His reading of E.E. Cummings’ risqué poem May I Feel for Allie Esiri’s The Love Book app was enthusiastically received by his fans. Allie has been quoted as commenting that Tom’s voice makes it something to listen to in a quiet room, and that it is “almost pornographic.”
She’s quite right, of course.
Hiddleston also has plans for that voice to be heard from the stage again. He says that the theatre will always be part of his life. “For as long as I am an actor, I will always have a contact with the theatre. It’s not something I feel like I will ever abandon.”
For which his fans will be eternally grateful.