How to wear black tie without looking like a dickie? With awards season on the way, Esquire puts fast-rising Brit actor Tom Hiddleston — star of The Deep Blue Sea — in seven stylish evening outfits. Now it’s over to the Academy.
Tom Hiddleston has had no shortage of eye-catching roles in a precocious career. There was his Machiavellian turn as Loki, the Norse god of mischief, in last summer’s £100m blockbuster Thor. He was Kenneth Branagh’s long-suffering sidekick in the BBC’s Wallander. Probably best of all are his performances in acclaimed British director Joanna Hogg’s low-budget features, Unrelated and Archipelago, claustrophobic dissections of middle-class emotional dysfunction.
But the part that might have changed the 30-year-old actor’s life was a blink-and-you-miss-it cameo in a Channel 5 docudrama called Victoria Cross Heroes. You didn’t catch it? Fortunately, Steven Spielberg did and cast him in his upcoming adaptation of the First World War weepy War Horse.
Hiddleston recalls, “Steven took me aside one day and said, ‘There’s something I saw you do, and that was when I knew. I said to my producer Kathleen Kennedy that this guy kind of reminds me of Errol Flynn, I need him.’” Hiddleston still looks in shock now. “So, you never know where doing a documentary for Channel 5 is going to get you,” he says.
Today is his first morning in the UK for almost six months, so you could forgive him for feeling a little disorientated. He’s also just come straight from the set of perhaps the most over-the-top film concept ever, The Avengers, directed by Buffy creator Joss Whedon.
“Thor was not a small film, but this is a ginormous one. It’s the biggest superhero team-up in the history of superheroes. It’s Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, the Incredible Hulk, Black Widow, Hawkeye and Nick Fury — seven superheroes against one bad guy, Loki, played by me!
“Then you list all the actors involved — Robert Downey Jr, Samuel L Jackson, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Chris Hemsworth, Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Gwyneth Paltrow and Stellan Skarsgård. That, basically, is Hollywood, and I’m still pinching myself that I’m allowed to be part of it,” he says.
The fantastical run of diverse projects doesn’t stop there, either. This month, Hiddleston can be seen in steamy clinches with Rachel Weisz in a tense and, at times, bruising version of Terence Rattigan’s 1952 play The Deep Blue Sea for the brilliant British director Terence Davies. You must see it, but maybe don’t go on a first date. “It’s a brutal film, I think, but Rachel’s so brave and there’s very little vanity for someone of her beauty and stature,” he says.
Changing tone again, he’s also currently on cinema screens playing F Scott Fitzgerald in Woody Allen’s very well received latest, Midnight in Paris, which Hiddleston describes as “Woody Allen’s Hot Tub Time Machine”.
Working with Allen was an odd process — they exchanged just a handful of words the whole shoot — and Hiddleston does spot-on impersonations of the introverted director and the film’s leading man, Owen Wilson.
“Somebody told me that he’d seen Woody at a film festival and he asked him, ‘So, how was working with Tom?’ Woody replied, ‘Tom’s a great actor.’ And this guy said, ‘Yeah, he’s a really nice guy.’ And Woody said, ‘I have no idea if he’s a nice guy, he’s a great actor.’ It’s a sweet compliment from him.”
Hiddleston’s expressive features drop and suddenly he appears a little crestfallen. “Sorry to blow my own trumpet,” he says, “I’d forgotten that I’m back in the UK now. In America, that’s what they expect.”
The Deep Blue Sea is out on 25 November
Words by Time Lewis
Photography by David Titlow
Fashion by Gareth Scourfield
(Top picture - Black wool tuxedo jacket, £895; black slim-fit wool tuxedo trousers, £395; navy silk tie, £95, all by Burberry London. White cotton dress shirt, £224, by Rake)
Black wool tuxedo, £2,350; white cotton dress shirt, £375; black velvet tie with pattern, £135; black leather evening shoes, £495, all by Giorgio Armani
Black wool tuxedo suit, £1,740, by Dior Homme. White marcella waistcoat, £350; white cotton pocket square, £25, both by Spencer Hart. Navy cotton shirt with white collar, £135; navy silk tie, £75, both by The Kooples. Black patent lace-up evening shoes, £495, by Prada
Black velvet smoking jacket, £1,395, by Bottega Veneta. Black wool trousers, £500, by Lanvin. White cotton evening shirt, £280; black patent lace-up evening shoes, £495, both by Prada. Navy silk bow tie, £85, by Burberry London