Senior Editor & Content Editor
Take notice all you lovers of big screen villains: The Avengers’ Tom Hiddleston is not your average British baddie. He is best known for his portrayal of the ultimate villain Loki in the 2011 Marvel Studios film, Thor and The Avengers in 2012 but there is so much more to this British actor. For many, it seems like his success has happened overnight but for those who know the real Tom, he has been making his way to becoming the star that he is now as he expands his reach in the acting world for years.
Unlike most stars who achieve rapid success and seem to be self-indulgent, Hiddleston has taken his star power and put it good use by helping UNICEF get the word out about world hunger and their resolve to end it. In doing so, Hiddleston shows the world that he has come such a long way from his beginnings as a boy from Wimbledon, England, who sought out the acting world as a form of escapism.
Hiddleston was born in Westminster, London, to parents Diana a former stage manager and arts administrator, and James Norman Hiddleston, a scientist in physical chemistry. As the middle child in between two sisters, Sarah, a journalist in India and Emma, also an actor, Hiddleston found himself drawn to acting during his time at Eton College at the age of 13. “I think I started acting because I found being away at school while my parents were divorcing really distressing,” Hiddleston has shared in the past. Hiddleston continued pursuing his passion at Pembroke College at the University of Cambridge, where he earned a double first in Classics, ultimately graduating from the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in 2005.
It was while he was still at Cambridge, during his second term that he was noticed by a talent agent, Lorraine Hamilton of Hamilton Hodell, during a production of A Streetcar Named Desire. The rest, as the cliché goes, is history as Hiddleston began doing British television, landing parts in Stephen Whittaker’s adaptation of Nicholas Nickleby for ITV, the BBC/HBO co-production Conspiracy, and as Randolph Churchill, the son of Winston Churchill, in the BBC/HBO drama The Gathering Storm.
After graduating from RADA, Hiddleston won his first film role, playing Oakley in Joanna Hogg’s first feature, Unrelated. He also appeared in the leading role of Edward in Joanna Hogg’s second feature, Archipelago, and soon set his sights on the theater world, landing leading roles in Declan Donnellan’s company Cheek by Jowl’s productions The Changeling, and Cymbeline. He moved onto Donmar Warehouse, where he expanded his repertoire with his roles Cassio in Michael Grandage’s production of Shakespeare’s Othello alongside Chiwetel Ejiofor and Ewan McGregor to critical acclaim and later Lvov in their West End revival of Chekhov’s Ivanov.
Hiddleston landed his most well known role to date as Loki in Thor when he was invited to audition by Kenneth Branagh, the film’s director, after having previously worked with Branagh on Ivanov and Wallander. “Ken has had a life-changing effect. He was able to say to the executives, ‘Trust me on this, you can cast Tom and he will deliver.’ It was massive and it’s completely changed the course of what is available to me to do. Ken gave me my break,” Hiddleston has stated. He originally auditioned for the part of Thor as he thought, “That was what I was being considered for, because I’m tall and blonde and classically trained, and that seemed to be the mold for what Thor was, he was to be a classical character.” In the end, Branagh decided he was more suitable as the antagonist and cast him as Loki.
That turned out to be one of the best decisions made as Hiddleston received raved reviews for his performance as the complex villain. He gained a following in fans and more high profile roles soon followed. He has gone on to portray novelist F. Scott Fitzgerald in writer-director Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris, the noble Captain Nicholls in War Horse directed by Steven Spielberg, and Freddie Page, a RAF pilot in the British drama The Deep Blue Sea, alongside Rachel Weisz.
He returned to his role as Loki in the 2012 movie The Avengers, again to acclaim and praise, walking away with a few awards as well for his repeat performance. In 2012, he wowed audiences in the BBC Two series The Hollow Crown, portraying Prince Hal in the TV-movie adaptations of Shakespeare’s Henry IV, Parts I & II and the titular role in Henry V, which according to Hiddleston himself is his favorite role to date as it reminds him of why he got into acting in the first place.
Hiddleston has another turn as Loki in Thor: The Dark World and as vampire, Adam, in Jim Jarmusch’s film Only Lovers Left Alive with Tilda Swinton as Eve and Mia Wasikowska. He is also returning to his Shakespearian roots and passion this winter in the Donmar production of Shakespeare’s Coriolanus.
While Hiddleston plays an incredibly convincing bad guy in Loki, it is safe to say it does not carry over to Hiddleston himself.
Just this past January, Hiddleston joined forces with UNICEF UK to try and make a difference for those less fortunate. Since then, Hiddleston has taken every opportunity to speak out about this cause and help out in any way that seems fit.
In an interview with Red Carpet News at the Book of Mormon premiere in London, Hiddleston spoke about his work with UNICEF saying, “My work with them has been one of the most life changing things I’ve ever done. What it gave me was a new perspective on our collective responsibility for the state of our world; it’s a very, very small world now.”
When Hiddleston teamed up with UNICEF in January he went with them to Guinea in West Africa. While there, he documented his trip via twitter and a blog set up by UNICEF; this was to allow fans and fellow activists to get involved and see exactly what was happening in countries such as this. Of the trip, Hiddleston has said that, “it rearranges your head, truly. It makes you reassess your priorities, your complains, and your prospective.”
For every day of the trip Hiddleston posted about his experiences with the people of Guinea and about everything he learned about the people and their needs. Every single post is very informative and touching. His blog from the fourth day, the pure bluntness of the line, “What is the biggest problem for you here, I ask. Water, they reply. There is no water. The statement is so basic and baldly stated it hits me like a club to the head,” has struck a chord with many and even brought some to tears.
Through his blog posts we are bombarded with the reality of the tragic situation the people in third world countries face every day. But when talking to Flaunt Magazine about his work with UNICEF Hiddleston very humbly said:
“I’m someone who can write about it and make people aware, but I’m not distributing vaccines; I’m not organizing transportation; I can’t make fortified milk for infants who are malnourished; I can’t build schools and find jobs and build training systems; I’m not a chemist; I’m not an engineer; I’m not a politician – I’m just in a position where people, some people, a few people, will read what I’ve got to say.”
Hiddleston also participated in UNICEF’s Live Below the Line campaign where you live off of £1 (or $1.50) a day for five days. Through Twitter, Hiddleston shared his own experience through tweets, videos, and photographs.
By sharing all of these experiences, the fans noticed and started taking action.
The fan website, Hiddles Smiles, set up accounts on both the American UNICEF site and the UK site. Together, they raised $15,710 dollars (or £10,209) for Live Below the Line in Hiddleston’s name.
But that isn’t where it ends. There are multiple options for ‘Hiddlestoners’ who want to make a difference in the world on the website; from Hiddlestoners Have Heart for UNICEF to just a bunch of information about multiple charities, it is clear that Hiddleston’s giving, kind heart has rubbed off on his many fans.
Since Hiddleston’s big break in Thor in 2011, fans have continued to be loyally by his side. It is over this time that we have not only gotten to see the many layers of his acting ability, but have also watched interviews and become intrigued by this smart, talented, kind, and – let’s be honest – perfectly geeky guy. Who else could show up at Comic-Con in full costume and get all of Hall H to chant, “LOOOOOKIII” and be the talk of the entire convention?
It’s clear to everyone that Hiddleston will be around for awhile, making bad look good with both his onscreen personas and offscreen kind-hearted gestures…Loki can come too.