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Tom Hiddleston has fast become a fanboy (and girl) favorite for his layered portrayal of slithery sibling Loki in the summer hit "Thor," and his infamy will only grow when he reprises the role (as villain numero uno) in May's hotly anticipated superhero ensemble "The Avengers."
Thankfully there sits "War Horse" smack dab between the Marvel tentpoles, otherwise Hiddleston may fall victim to that time-honored Hollywood tradition: the pigeonhole.
Steven Spielberg's family friendly epic finds the 30-year-old Londoner playing, as the actor calls him, a "very kind and decent British officer," a stark contrast from Loki's diabolical ways, and much closer (thankfully for all of us) to the real Hiddleston, who in person comes across as charming, eloquent and grateful.
His Captain Nichols takes proprietorship of the title horse Joey once a tearful Albert (Jeremy Irvine) watches his desperate father sell him to the military at the onset of World War I, and we can tell from the first shot of Hiddleston that he's on the steed's side.
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The fact that it's the animal that drives the story is what really spoke to Hiddleston about the project.
"For the audience, the horse is our eyes and our ears to the shocking and tragic waste of world War I," he says. "The indifference to human life, the courage, the heroism, and the sort of proximity of death. It's almost as if the horse is a kind of all-seeing, silent eye and it's a very beautiful and sort of heart-warming tale of a horse who is brought up in Devon by a young boy and his journey to getting home again. "
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There was also, of course, the opportunity to work with Spielberg, the master hitmaker who impressed Hiddleston with his humility.
"He is accessibly humble, he really is," the actor says. "You'd never know that he is one of the greatest filmmakers of all time, just because he's a father and a friend and a husband and he really treats people with equanimity. I never ever felt like he was bigger than me or looking down his nose at me and that was really amazing to see in a man of such stature—there's this sense self-deprecating humility and kindness and generosity and an amazing sense of humor."
There were also the stories. "He shared all the anecdotes you want to know, like what it was like working with Sean Connery and Harrison Ford on 'Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.'"
If Hiddleston – who also showed his benevolent side this year as a warm F. Scott Fitzgerald in Woody Allen's sleeper hit "Midnight in Paris" – continues raking in the high-profile roles, people might someday be asking Spielberg what it was like working with Tom Hiddleston on "War Horse."