Tom Hiddleston & Aaron Paul Talk Bad Auditions
If you happen to be a fan of sexy British actors, Breaking Bad, and embarrassing tales of Hollywood woe, then settle yourself into your favorite easy chair because this story has it all. The disarmingly suave Tom Hiddleston Interviewed Aaron Paul for the PBS and Variety series Actors On Actors, and Hiddleston (thankfully) asked the Breaking Bad star for any "nightmare stories" when it came to auditions. Responding with an assured lack of hesitation, Paul then launched into a harrowing tale for when he auditioned in front of J.J. Abrams for a role in Cloverfield. However, Hiddleston neglected to follow-up with a nightmare story of his own, so, naturally, I had to track one down for him. But let's not get ahead of ourselves.
At the suggestion of a friend, Paul had expressed an interest in magic to Abrams, with whom he worked on Mission Impossible 3. The director was a fan of magic tricks and as such persuaded Paul to perform a trick before the whole cast, including Tom Cruise, who were all impressed with his skills. The card trick which Paul performed had obviously left a lasting impression on Abrams, because it was all the director could talk about when the actor went in to audition for a role in Cloverfield:
I walk in and J.J.’s there. He brings up the magic trick story and I lose my train of thought. I have three pages of a monologue that I memorized. That was my audition ... He has me tell the story about the card trick and now I’m super awkward. He’s like, ‘now let’s get started,’ and I start doing this monologue and I completely lose my train of thought and I stop and I apologize to J.J. He’s like ‘that’s OK. Thanks for coming in.’ I’m like’ see ya’ and I walked out. It was awful.
Ouch. After obsessively watching the entirety of Breaking Bad more than once (I regret nothing), it's pretty difficult to imagine Jessie Pinkman scrambling through subways to escape alien spawn or jumping through derelict buildings to try and save a girlfriend from certain doom without the inclusion of unwelcome quips like "humanity, b*itch!", so it maybe worked out for the best that he didn't get the Cloverfield role (oh, who am I kidding? He would have been awesome).
Of course, as I said, Hiddleston is no stranger to embarrassing audition stories himself. Famously, the actor originally auditioned for, and was lined up to become, the title hammer swinging hero in Thor, but was then cast (pretty perfectly) as Loki, instead. In an interview with The Huffington Post back in 2014, Hiddleston explained how he built up muscle for the role only to have to lose it again in order to become Loki:
The guys at Marvel called and said, “Can you put on as much muscle as you can in six weeks?” So I went from 180 pounds to 198 pounds and I had 7% body fat ... I was waiting to hear whether I’d got the job of Thor or not, but they called Chris on a Wednesday and they called me on a Thursday. Kevin [Feige] and Ken [Branagh] called me personally and said, “Well, you’re not going to play Thor but we would like you to play Loki.” Ken said to me, “Actually, this is the role that I would want to play.” In a way, it was a gift – and I have no regrets about it at all. I’ve never once thought, ‘I wish I were playing Thor.’
OK, so maybe the audition process wasn't anywhere as miserable for Hiddleston as Paul's story was about Cloverfield, but it's still pretty bizarre to watch Hiddleston with long, blonde hair swinging Thor's Hammer in the original test footage from the film, regardless. Plus, to have gained all that muscle for a role only to have to lose it all again must have been challenging, to say the least. I, for one, am definitely more than a little disappointed that we didn't all to see get to enjoy more of Hiddleston's beautiful, physical commitment to the role of Thor. But for now, I guess we can just continue to watch this magical test footage on repeat:
There's a pretty positive lesson we can all learn from Hiddleston and Paul's history of auditions gone wrong, however, and that's that perseverance pays off. Though neither of these actors may have got those original and career changing roles, they've definitely managed to make a name for themselves within the industry for the roles they eventually did get. And there's no denying that both Jessie Pinkman and Loki have both become iconic characters in their own right, thanks in large part to their talented portrayals of each.