'TV Choice Magazine' Interview with Tom
TV Choice Magazine did a short interview with Tom about 'The Hollow Crown'.
"Tom Hiddleston’s film career has soared recently with starring roles in Thor, Avengers Assemble and War Horse but he’s back on the small screen playing heir apparent Prince Hal in Henry IV, part of The Hollow Crown series on BBC2.
How would you sell this production to viewers who don’t know Shakespeare?
What Shakespeare was so great at was everyday stuff on a big canvas. Everyone has a father, many people have sons and many people have friends who they are estranged from. We may not have the Hollywood budget or extras but we’ve made pieces of exciting action and have shot them like films.
Hal’s best friend is Falstaff, played by Simon Russell Beale, it’s quite an unusual relationship isn’t it?
Yes but I think Hal is the classic teenager, he’s someone who’s rebelling and resisting his inheritance in more ways than one. It’s not just that he doesn’t want to be the Prince of Wales but he doesn’t want to be his dad, the king. So he’s found another man of the same age who is the exact opposite. Henry IV is stern, austere, disciplined, cantankerous and political but probably has a lot of backbone and honour. Falstaff is a drunk, a hopeless warrior and is also a glorious liar. Falstaff is like the less successful twin of Father Christmas!
But he’s also full of contradictions.
He’s like the mischievous uncle who comes round and tells jokes, which are a bit too rude. He’s jolly and warm but on another level he’s dishonourable, lonely, dishonest, has no backbone and is a coward. In the end, it’s all the secondary stuff that Hal has to turn away from and reject.
Hal’s rejection of Falstaff when he becomes Henry V is quite brutal isn’t it?
Yes. In the middle of the coronation Falstaff runs up to him to say hello, as if they are back in the pub but Hal is a changed man. He’s the king of England and can’t be seen to be hanging out with Falstaff. Imagine if at Prince William and Kate’s wedding some guy who William had a drink with, who’s actually some street bum, ran up to him. He can’t be seen to have those kinds of friends. It’s like when Prince Harry was falling out of bars in Chelsea, people were talking about him as a disgrace.
Was it daunting playing the role?
I had to film the famous ‘Once more unto the breech dear friends’ speech from Henry V on day one. We were at Arundel Castle and I had to gallop along the moat, jump off a horse and say probably the most famous line in English literature. You’ve got to start somewhere.
You must be an accomplished rider after War Horse.
I love it, there’s nothing quite like it in the world. Even if you feel a bit groggy in the morning, you get on a horse and your cobwebs clear immediately. There’s something really unique about it.
Is the play Henry V different in tone to Henry IV?
Henry V is very much the journey of one man and is unequivocally a war drama. It’s about the nature of war, how it changes people and the courage required. Shakespeare was fascinated by the effect of war on the soul.
What’s it like acting alongside such a glittering cast?
Simon Russell Beale and Jeremy Irons are two actors I grew up watching so it’s such an amazing privilege for me. One of the first Shakespeare plays I saw was Othello at the National Theatre and Simon was playing Iago, so it’s kind of awesome,