With Loki’s helmet and scepter tucked safely into an Asgard closet (for now), ” Avengers” star Tom Hiddleston is donning a new menacing persona — that of vampire rock-god Adam in the film “Only Lovers Left Alive.”
Actress Tilda Swinton plays the other titular lover, Eve, who reunites with her bloodsucking beau only to have their relationship tested by little sister Ava, played by Mia Wasikowska.
One doesn’t just become a rock ’n’ roller overnight, though, so who did Hiddleston take inspiration from?
“There was a sort of romantic template, this idea of the gothic, romantic poet that is kind of the spirit of rock ’n’ roll even before the advent of rock ’n’ roll,” Hiddleston explained to MTV News’ Josh Horowitz at the Toronto International Film Festival. “We talked about Syd Barrett and David Bowie and Mick Jagger, and for me, it was just a pleasure to sit and listen to [writer/director] Jim [Jarmusch] talk about Tom Waits and Iggy, who are on speed dial for him, which is amazing. And we also talked about [Mary] Shelley and [Lord] Byron and Hamlet. Brian Eno, White Hills, Bach — people who essentially have been infused with the spirit of rock ’n’ roll. Jimi Hendrix.”
But don’t queue up for a ticket thinking you’ll hear Hiddleston hum a tune or two.
“I think in Jim’s mind, [Adam is] someone who once sang, but he’s been making music for so long, he’s actually become fascinated by some very, very refined form in that all the florid stuff he used to be interested in — the Shubert, the Paganini, the Bach — has sort of distilled itself into something much more emotional for him, which is this slow, electric drone,” Hiddleston said. “He’s also fascinated by science and the mathematical-musical beauty of sound waves and things at an atomic level that actually he just wants to play things through his speakers and listen to the way they reverberate.”
All of which doesn’t sound too far from Hiddleston’s own real-life musical leanings. The actor plays both the piano and the guitar and has a few aural aspirations of his own.
“I play the piano, and I wish I could play it like Justin Vernon,” Hiddleston admitted. “That’s very soulful stuff for me. I also play the guitar, and I play Dylan and Mumford, and it’s a very sort of tinkling folk vibe. Bits of Red Hot Chili Peppers, I suppose.”
Hiddleston, however, is very modest about his abilities.
“I play all of this incredibly badly,” he said. “I enjoy it. I get very soothed by it. My ear is okay, especially with the piano, so I love being able to — last year I was obsessed with trying to work out the chord structures for ’Someone Like You,’ the Adele song. It’s not difficult, and I can’t sing along to it, but it’s nice to be able to play those things. I was trying to learn the soundtrack to ’Road to Perdition’ by Thomas Newman, which has some really beautiful chord structures.
“The piano is essentially my instrument,” Hiddleston continued. “Adam is a guitarist. He’s fascinated by strings. He plays the violin and the lute, but I love the piano. If I could be anyone, I’d love to be one of those people who can sit down and play anything.”