Thursday, September 29, 2016

Benedict Cumberbatch Interviews Tom Hiddleston

Benedict Cumberbatch recently interviewed Tom Hiddleston for Interview Magazine. Here are some of the highlights from their exchange:

BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH: Like all interviewers, I should first of all thank you, Tom, for taking this time.

TOM HIDDLESTON: [laughs] Thank you, Benedict. We should just thank each other for our time. For the rest of our lives.

CUMBERBATCH: And then, in typical British fashion, we should just apologize for everything as well.

HIDDLESTON: I'm sorry for disturbing you.

CUMBERBATCH: I'm more sorry than you.

CUMBERBATCH: Oh, God, I'm not supposed to be writing this down, am I? 

HIDDLESTON: Are you transcribing this later?

CUMBERBATCH: I'm just sort of staring out over a very European landscape imagining what you're describing, very far from pen and paper. I feel like I'm in the jungles of Vietnam. But so long as someone else has got that spelling and that's not my editorial responsibility, I'll be very happy. Well, Tom, you're an equally eloquent writer and actor. I remember reading a piece that you wrote, describing the first day of facing this icon of cinema, King Kong. You know, you've got a great reputation as a cineaste. But I was wondering if there was an era of film—if you had a time machine—that you could go back and be a part of? Whether it's musicals or neorealism in Italy post World War II or maybe a Spielberg film in the '80s?

HIDDLESTON: There are two great eras that I still revere. I'm bowled over in awe and admiration by the uninterrupted takes of the dancing of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers and Gene Kelly. There's no "We're going to fix it in post." I was watching a clip from Swing Time [1936] and ... What's his name in Singin' in the Rain [1952]? "Make 'Em Laugh"? Donald O'Connor! I watch those films in awe. That was a different kind of performance. And the second one is the '70s. 

CUMBERBATCH: When the East Coast boys took over L.A. and the studio system? The Scorseses ...?

HIDDLESTON: Yeah. The emotional immediacy and realism and seriousness of cinema then. Taxi Driver [1976], Raging Bull [1980], Apocalypse Now [1979] ...

CUMBERBATCH: I completely agree. They were highly relevant, tackling massive, important issues of their time politically. They managed to find the golden balance between entertainment and art. 

HIDDLESTON: That's also when Stanley Kubrick was doing his best work. 2001 came out in 1968. Before the moon landing in '69, they felt they'd already been there because of what Kubrick had given them as an experience in the cinema. They actually invented materials with NASA, costuming and props, to have stuff that was ahead of its time. I mean, it's sci-fi driving the boat. And the films that we're making now are still informed by those films, by that extraordinary era. Although, we are guilty of golden-age thinking—an idea from Midnight in Paris

CUMBERBATCH: At the same time, we acknowledge that, for the past ten years, we've been living in a golden age of long-form TV, which you are now a part of. When The Night Manager broke in the U.K., you could not move for people talking about it. It was just utterly riveting, and just another great jewel in the BBC's crown. How was that, working with Susanne Bier?

HIDDLESTON: I just loved the experience of making it. It always felt as though we were making a six-hour feature. We storyboarded it and scheduled it as one 360-page screenplay, with one director. Susanne was our captain. We shot in Switzerland, London, Devon, Morocco, and Majorca, in that order. It felt like the lion's share of the series took place in Morocco, in Marrakesh, where our Cairo interiors were, and where we shot the Arab Spring riots. We spent seven weeks in Marrakesh and we had to get through so many pages per day, in which I was featured in every frame, jumping between identities—I was Jonathan Pine and Andrew Birch and Thomas Quince and Jack Linden. Someone asked me recently what was it like to go back to television, and it didn't feel like that. The difference is greater for the audience than it is for us, I think. And, strangely enough, speaking of the '70s, The Night Manager was first optioned by Sydney Pollack [in the early '90s], and he commissioned a film script from Robert Towne. Finally the rights went back to le CarrĂ© and his sons Simon and Stephen Cornwell. But maybe there is a world where that story is better over six hours than over two. I don't know. How do you feel? You're someone who, for many, many years, has concurrently done television and film. We were riding horses the day after the first episode of Sherlock aired on the BBC—you were falling off horses, training for War Horse [2011]. I remember when Sherlock became the extraordinary phenomenon that it has become. And since then, you've done three seasons? 

CUMBERBATCH: We've done four seasons. And one Christmas special ... 

Read the full interview at Interview.

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