As Loki in Thor and The Avengers, he has been responsible for one of the finest celluloid villains in recent memory. But when he’s not antagonising superheroes, Tom Hiddleston is a tireless charity worker. When ShortList phoned the 32-year-old, he was midway through Unicef’s ‘Live Below The Line’ challenge, surviving on £1 per day for a week to get a glimpse of the poverty afflicting billions across the planet.
How’s the challenge going?
It’s been tough but it’s taught me humility. One-billion children in the world live on less than £1 every day of their lives, so that’s made me incredibly appreciative of every crumb I get.
Have you ever had to endure anything similar to this challenge before? Any ‘struggling actor’ period where you were living on Pot Noodles?
Super Noodles, actually [laughs]. I lived in a hostel for a short time when I was at Rada. It wasn’t great, but it was luxury compared to the poverty of some children.
From the photos of the trip, we see you enjoyed a kick-about with the kids…
I did, though they quickly realised I wasn’t Lionel Messi or David Beckham.
Have you managed to rope any Hollywood stars into following the sport?
Chris Evans told me how good the US team was after their 2010 World Cup run, all the while dressed head to toe as Captain America.
Yourself, Benedict Cumberbatch and Eddie Redmayne are flying the flag for British high society in Hollywood. All pals?
Benedict’s a dear friend – I was chatting with him this morning, mainly to grill him for information on the new Star Trek film, not that he told me anything. Eddie and I are friends, too. We went to Koreatown for karaoke. He has the voice of an angel.
Can you hold a note?
I’m told that when I sing in the car I sound like a cat being sick.
What can you tell us about the latest Thor film?
All I can tell you is it goes to other worlds and Christopher Eccleston is Malekith, Lord Of The Dark Elves Of Svartalfheim, who fans of the comic books love to hate.
You asked Chris Hemsworth to punch you for real during filming. Did it hurt?
It did, but just as a camera captures the truth, it captures falsities and sometimes I take one for the team. It was the same for the cavalry charge in War Horse. If I’d fallen it would’ve been the end, but it brought me closer to my character.
Do you get any crazy fan mail from Loki obsessives?
Lots, mostly personal fan art… very personal. There’s a moment in Thor where I jump on a spear lodged in the ground, and kick Chris Hemsworth in the chest, and some people have seen this as emblematic of my hidden talent as a pole dancer. So I get lots of pictures of me in character, exotic dancing.
Are you pining to play a hero now?
Sure, in fact my next role is playing war photographer Robert Capa in a film about his life. I see his life in heroic terms: a Hungarian kicked out of Hungary for writing against fascism, kicked out of Germany for being Jewish.
How was working with Woody Allen in Midnight In Paris?
I didn’t know it was a time- travel film until I arrived on set. Woody wrote me a letter, about four lines long, asking me to play F Scott Fitzgerald, and attached pages with my lines. I thought the whole film was set in the Twenties. So I’m dressed up in costume when I meet Owen Wilson, who I assume isn’t in costume yet. I ask what writer he’s playing, and he replies [freakishly good impression] “No, man, I’m from the future.”
You’ve just finished filming a Jim Jarmusch vampire film, alongside Tilda Swinton. Is she as intense as she seems?
The opposite. She’s so fun, just a hoot. I’d be in the make-up chair every morning while she showed me stupid YouTube videos. She introduced me to Gangnam Style. Seriously, she was into K-pop long before anyone else. She threw a party for me. Tilda Swinton on the dance floor is a force of nature. She knows how to get down.