Next week is due to be a tough one for any devotees of Tom Hiddleston or Charlie Cox. The celebrated revival of Harold Pinter’s Betrayal, currently showing in London’s West End, cones to a close on 8th June. Due to a lucky win in a Comic Relief charity auction, this particular correspondent was able to get up close and personal with the actors, bugging them with questions not just about the play, but also Crimson Peak, The Night Manager and Daredevil. Hiddleston and Cox were affectionate about both shows, even if they revealed little about their chances of return. It made for a fitting swan song, even if it left me, as always, hoping for more.
After an hour of pre-show champagne with the other winners and their guests, followed by the play (admittedly not my first viewing), our more than slightly giddy crew was taken onto the stage to handle the play’s minimal props and saunter casually over the spots where the actors had stood. This included a stint on the rotating platform that had marked the key scene changes in Betrayal. Back in the theatre’s private bar, we barely had five minutes to regroup before the cast ambled in, jovial and still riding high from their stint signing autographs at the stage door.
Cox in particular, proved to be charming company, enthused by one of the winners having made the journey from France, where he had spent a chunk of his childhood, before going to talk in-depth about Daredevil and The Defenders, enduring my questions about Matt Murdoch’s Catholicism, my recollection of my tears when I first watched the death of Father Lantom, and attempt at figuring out where to start when reading the Marvel comics (I still haven’t started). We even got on to discussing Catholicism among the X-Men, as you do.
When I finally got to Hiddleston, a man who’s work I’ve adored for years, I somehow managed to get out a question about whether he had a favourite book or character from literature that he’d like to see adapted. This inexplicably and delightfully, led to a lengthy discussion about surrealism and dream sequences in literature and film, such as The Diving Bell and the Butterfly and Guillermo del Toro’s use of monsters. In particular, getting to talk about my love for the smoky imagery surrounding the ghosts in both Crimson Peak and The Devil’s Backbone is a moment I will treasure.
Further stimulating chat followed about the motivations and flaws of Robert, Hiddleston’s character in Betrayal, but perhaps the highest point for me came when I asked Hiddleston for a hug (to which he graciously and wonderfully obliged) and told him how life-changing I had found The Night Manager. He expressed his hope that any further episodes would come from the mind of Le Carre. We talked about the differences between the book and series, all while, slightly incongruously, he signed my copy of J.G. Ballard’s High Rise. I then handed him some articles I’d written reviewing Betrayal and his 2017 turn in Hamlet, saying I hoped he would get the chance to read them. He said he would. He’s a busy man, but I hope he does.
As ever, the evening ended to soon, even with conversations with Hiddleston ensuring we ran over our time slot and had to be gently hustled out so that the theatre could close. The end of an evening, and the end of an era. Yet it’s hopefully not the end for these actors. Long live Betrayal.
This event, organized by Comic Relief, took place on 27th May 2019.