Global heartthrob Tom Hiddleston, veteran actor Samuel L. Jackson and Oscar winner Brie Larson met with media in Beijing on Friday to promote their latest film - Kong: Skull Island. Hitting US theaters on March 10, the film enjoyed an opening weekend of $61 million and earned a total of $88.59 million after its first eight days in the US. The film is currently scheduled to reach the Chinese mainland on March 24.
In an interview, Hiddleston sat down with the Global Times to talk about his role in the new film.
The adventures of Hiddleston
A British actor, Hiddleston appeared in a number of television roles and theater plays before he rose to global stardom after portraying the conniving Loki in Disney's Avengers (2012). Since then, the spotlight has firmly followed him throughout his career.
When talking about the reasons they fell for him, most fans would probably mention his skill at acting, his sexy voice when quoting from Shakespeare or his impressive educational background that includes attending Eton College and the University of Cambridge. Hiddleston isn't the only British actor or actress to break out on the international scene recently. Stars such as Benedict Cumberbatch and Eddie Redmayne have numerous fans for many of the same reasons that people love Hiddleston.
According to the actor, he feels that this popularity largely comes down to the training that they underwent as students of drama.
"There's a philosophy of artistry in British training, which is 'we are trained to be artists, we are not trained to be famous.' The thing that matters most of all is our work. As an actor, you commit your whole self to doing that work, to be intellectually curious, to be physically agile and to be emotionally compassionate. The head, heart and body all working at once," Hiddleston told the Global Times.
"Because in British theater tradition, there's no hiding place, there's no short cut, no fast track, no digital magic can make you better. The only thing that makes you a good actor is the sharpness of your mind, the size of your heart and the commitment of your body."
Hiddleston also brought this level of dedication to Kong: Skull Island, in which he plays James Conrad, a former British Special Air Service soldier. The role required that Hiddleston undergo training by two British Royal Marines and a US Navy Seal so he could be ready for the physical demands involved in playing the character. Every day while shooting, he got up at 4 am, trained for two hours and then put in a full day on set. Although the schedule was painful at times, Hiddleston confessed that he it was very "satisfying" to go experience such rigorous training as it also helped make him mentally stronger.
The reboot of 'King Kong'
While the new film is a reboot of the King Kong franchise, it shares only a few similarities with previous films. Besides featuring an ensemble cast, another obvious change is Kong's size. The great ape now stands at a height of about 30 meters, four times taller than how he appeared in Peter Jackson's King Kong (2005).
Set in 1973, the film sees the US government send out an expedition to map out a newly discovered island in the Pacific Ocean - Skull Island.
Vietnam War veteran James Conrad (Hiddleston), photo journalist Mason Weaver (Larson) and helicopter squadron leader Preston Packard (Jackson) are part of the expedition.
Once the team arrives, they discover that it is not some tropical getaway as giant creatures, including Kong, make the island their home.
So far the film has received relatively positive reviews from critics and audiences.
On Rotten Tomatoes, the film currently has a 78 percent approval rating from critics and 76 percent of audience reviewers have liked it. The critic consensus reads: "Offering exhilarating eye candy, solid acting, and a fast-paced story, Kong: Skull Island earns its spot in the movie monster's mythos without ever matching up to the classic original."
Hiddleston described his role as a "scarred" solider whose experiences during the war has caused him to lose his sense of wonder. However, his encounter with Kong awakens his humanity and gives him renewed purpose. Hiddleston said he found this transformation particularly attractive when he approached the character.
"I became an actor because I came from the audience," the actor said when talking about how he got into show business. He recalled feeling very lonely when he was 14 years old. Then one day he saw a play at the Royal National Theatre in London that made him felt less alone. Sitting there with hundreds of other people, he felt extremely moved by what he saw on stage and could tell that those around him felt the same way. It was at that moment that he realized that the performing arts existed to bring people together.
"There's more that we share as people than the things that divide us," Hiddleston said.
"The work that I've done can move and delight and entertain all sorts of people from different parts of the world, that makes me feel so proud. Because that's the reason I started acting."