Tom Hiddleston never does anything by halves: To prepare for his role in AMC’s The Night Manager he worked in a London hotel, and he loved playing comic book baddie Loki so much he even got into costume on one of his off days.
You certainly can’t fault his commitment to character, and it looks like his upcoming movie Kong: Skull Island will be no exception.
With just over a month to go until it’s released in theaters, various media outlets published an on-set interview with the star yesterday (February 1).
Until now not much was known about the action-packed movie, apart from the fact it featured an impressive cast, including Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, John Goodman, and John C. Reilly, and, of course, a ruddy great big gorilla.
Kong: Skull Island picks up on the legend of King Kong, the giant ape who famously scaled the Empire State Building in the original 1933 movie, but it sets it in a new and unfamiliar territory: namely, an island in the south Pacific in the 1970s.
And while Jackson’s character is a world-weary vet, Reilly’s is a World War II pilot, and Larson’s a war photographer recently returned from the Vietnam conflict, Hiddleston plays James Conrad, a tracker and former member of the British Special Air Service (SAS).
“[Conrad’s] sort of a ’70s hero,” he told movie news site JoBlo. “He’s one of those lone cats. He’s got edge. A lot of wit. That’s partly why I wanted the character to be British. So that chemistry with Weaver (Larson) would have that old Hollywood banter.”
And though there won’t be a “damsel in distress” love story — not the kind we often associate with the King Kong legend, anyway. Though it sounds like there will be a certain something between Hiddleston’s character and Larson’s.
“There’s a great chemistry,” he said. “There’s a great sort of back and forth about who gets to make decisions. She mocks him in the beginning for being opaque and mysterious. ‘What’s this tracking thing you’ve got going on?’.”
Later on though, he says, “Conrad reveals himself to be really handy in a tight spot, and she’s really grateful for that… but she won’t let him know! And she also has moments of great bravery and courage and action. That’s what I love about it. There’s never been a leading female character in a King Kong film like we have.”
Whoa, now, Tom: Don’t go steaming in there with specially-printed t-shirts.
It turns out as well as doing his research, Hiddleston worked closely with director Jordan Vogt-Roberts (The Kings of Summer, You’re the Worst) on developing the story, citing a name familiar to BBC America viewers as a surprising influence on his character.
According to The Nerdist, he explained how Conrad has “this extraordinary understanding of the natural world, talking about the food chain, the cycle of life, the basic and essential necessity of predators. We started talking about David Attenborough and Planet Earth and suddenly there was this character forming who was very hard, someone who is isolated and mysterious. Isolated by his former experience and deeply charismatic, but when you put him face-to-face with the fantastical world of King Kong suddenly you have an amazing outline for a hero.”
We’d called Attenborough a hero, alright. Another major influence were action blockbusters of the ’80s and ’90s, with Hiddleston saying: “I’m a big fan of adventure cinema. Always have been. We want to make it something that’s up there with the best adventure stories that the form has ever seen. […] [Jordan] and I are the same age, so we talked about Raiders [of the Lost Ark], we talked about Jurassic Park.”
Okay, so now we’re excited. By all accounts, the production is massive, with filming taking place on a real island and the cast running through real jungles and a real “boneyard” of gigantic skeletons. The latest trailer should help you get the picture:
Kong: Skull Island opens in theaters on March 10.
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