Tom Hiddleston

Tom Hiddleston

Born in Westminster, London, Thomas William Hiddleston was the second of three children by Scottish physicist James Norman Hiddleston, and his British wife, Diana, an arts administrator. A movie fan from an early age, Hiddleston's was introduced to the theatre and more refined film efforts by his mother, who was also a former stage manager. The lessons had a lasting effect on young Hiddleston, who began acting while attending Eton College. Study of the classics at Cambridge University's Pembroke College came next, during which he was seen in a production of "A Streetcar Named Desire" by agent Lorraine Hamilton. Hiddleston's small-screen debut came shortly thereafter, with a minor role in a 2001 TV adaptation of Charles Dickens' "The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby" (Channel 4). He soon landed appearances in high-profile television features, including "Conspiracy" (BBC/HBO, 2001) and "The Gathering Storm" (BBC/HBO, 2002) as Winston Churchill's black sheep son, Randolph, but he remained off the screen for the next few years so as to complete his studies at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. Following his graduation in 2005, Hiddleston landed his first feature role in Joanna Hogg's award-winning "Unrelated," as a young man who becomes involved with an older family guest while on vacation in Italy.However, Hiddleston would subsequently devote more of his time to stage work than roles in film or on television. He would enjoy a remarkable period of success between 2007 and 2008, reaping the 2008 Laurence Olivier Award for Best Newcomer in a Play for Cheek by Jowl's 2007 production of Shakespeare's "Cymbeline" and a Theatergoers' Choice Awards for both a 2008 production of "Othello" opposite Ewan McGregor and Chiwetel Ejiofor and a West End revival that same year of "Ivanov," opposite Kenneth Branagh. He maintained a sporadic schedule of television appearances during this time, most notably in the "Wallander" (BBC One, 2008-) detective series opposite Branagh, and as the voice of Charles Darwin in the nature documentary series "Galapagos" (BBC Two, 2006). By 2011, Hiddleston was beginning to make his mark as an international star. He auditioned for the iconic lead in Branagh's big screen adaptation of the Marvel Comics hero "Thor" (2011), adding some 20 pounds of muscle to his lean frame, but was eventually cast as the Norse hero's scheming brother, Loki. The runaway success of the special effects extravaganza introduced Hiddleston to a global audience. He soon followed that hit with a turn as author F. Scott Fitzgerald in the Oscar-winning "Midnight in Paris" (2011), writer-director Woody Allen's highest-grossing film then to date. Hiddleston then scored a third hit with "War Horse" (2011), director Steven Spielberg's adaptation of the Tony-winning play about a heroic boy and the touching, loyal relationship with his horse during World War I. His turn as a British cavalry officer earned him the 2012 Rising Star accolade from The Richard Attenborough Regional Film Critics Awards.The following year, Hiddleston returned to quieter fare with "The Deep Blue Sea" (2012), Terence Davies' adaptation of the Terrence Rattigan play, with Rachel Weisz as a married woman who entered into a highly sexualized but passionless affair with a callow RAF pilot (Hiddleston). He was soon back in the epic business, reprising Loki for director Joss Whedon's all-star superhero rally "The Avengers" (2012), which featured Robert Downey, Jr., Chris Hemsworth and Chris Evans reprising their roles as "Iron Man" (2008), Thor and "Captain America" (2011), respectively. He also returned to his theatrical roots for a three-part TV production of Shakespeare's "Henry IV" and "Henry V" (PBS, 2012), playing the lead role of Prince Hal opposite a who's who of British acting legends, including Jeremy Irons, John Hurt and his "Deep Blue Sea" co-star, Simon Russell Beale. Hiddleston was slated to reprise Loki for a third time in 2013's "Thor 2."By Paul Gaita