'Awards Chatter' Podcast — Tom Hiddleston ('I Saw the Light' & 'The Night Manager')

The 35-year-old Brit, whose fans call themselves "Hiddlestoners," discusses how 'Othello' led him to the Marvel Universe; how he transformed himself for a Hank Williams biopic; and how his portrayal of a spy on AMC's hit limited series is fueling those pesky Bond rumors.
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Tom Hiddleston

"I just feel so lucky because I've always wanted to be in different kinds of things, to play different kinds of roles," says actor Tom Hiddleston as we sit down to record an episode of 'Awards Chatter.' At the moment, the 35-year-old Brit is not only living out that dream, but receiving major plaudits for the way in which he's done so. For his portrayal of the iconic country music singer Hank Williams in the Sony Classics biopic I Saw the Light, he is the subject of Oscar buzz. For his performance as John Le Carre's fictional spy Jonathan Pine in the AMC limited series The Night Manager, he is generating Emmy buzz. And for an hour, he discussed those projects, and his journey to them, on this podcast.

(Click above to listen to this episode now or click here to access all of our episodes via iTunes. Past guests include Steven SpielbergAmy Schumer, Louis C.K., Lady GagaWill SmithKristen Stewart, Harvey WeinsteinBrie LarsonJ.J. AbramsKate Winslet, Samuel L. JacksonJane Fonda and Michael Moore.)

Hiddleston is, along with Benedict Cumberbatch and Eddie Redmayne, part of a generation of Brits educated at top universities — he graduated from Oxford and RADA — who have distinguished themselves on the stage, then done a blockbuster or two and then turned in awards-worthy work on both the big and small screens. Over the course of our conversation, he talks about how, as a student, he first crossed paths with Kenneth Branagh, whose confidence in him resulted in several breakthrough gigs across the media, including and especially the part of Thor in the Marvel Universe films Thor and The Avengers, "the biggest opportunity of my life."

2011 proved to be "an extraordinary year in my life" for a number of reasons, he reflects, noting that four of his films were released within that year: Branagh's Thor, Terence Davies' The Deep Blue Sea, Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris (as F. Scott Fitzgerald) and Steven Spielberg's War Horse, a wide cross-section of films that helped people to appreciate his talent and versatility. (Midnight in Paris and War Horse received best picture Oscar nominations.)

Hiddleston has been no less impressive in the years since, building up a group of loyal fans who have been nicknamed "Hiddlestoners." But in 2016, he has taken things to a new level by doing astounding vocal, physical, emotional and intellectual work for I Saw the Light ("simultaneously the most fulfilling, the most terrifying and the most challenging creative experience of my life") and The Night Manager ("the most compelling piece of writing ... [Pine] was my age, he had an elegant and diplomatic exterior, and behind that he was on fire").

Meanwhile, Hiddleston has become the subject of increasingly loud speculation that he may be called on to succeed Daniel Craig as James Bond — and his excellence as Pine in The Night Manager only added fuel to that fire. "I'm playing a former British soldier who becomes an agent for MI6 who does some very bad things for the greater good ... and the world that that spy occupies is very seductive ... but I do think they are different characters," Hiddleston says. "I understand where the comparisons come from, and they're enormously flattering, but I don't think the position [of 007] is vacant, truthfully," he says with a chuckle. "He's James Bond, and until further notice there is no other." (That being said, Hiddleston was seen this week in London meeting with Sam Mendes, director of the last two Bond films and the next one.)

Apart from Kong: Skull Island (due out March 10, 2017) and Thor: Ragnarok (Nov. 3, 2017), Hiddleston says, "I'm not quite sure what's next," but adds, "I have some big dreams and some big plans."