If you've ever entertained the cliche that Hollywood is full of phonies and social climbers, or thought that, no matter how glamorous it might seem from the outside, it'd be impossible to find a fail-safe group of great buddies, just stop. Benedict Cumberbatch interviewed Tom Hiddleston, and their friendship is coming at you to explode your misconceptions. Of course, Cumberbatch and Hiddleston have been friends for many years, but theirs is such a low-key friendship, and the pair have been so busy with their separate, various projects, that it was easy to forget about. Not anymore. Purposefully avoiding the subject of Hiddleston's relationship with Taylor Swift, my favorite Sherlock Holmes thesp interviewed the Thor actor, for, fittingly, Interview Magazine, and the highlights of the interview didn't pertain to Hiddleston's career. Instead, they pertained to his rock-solid celebrity friendships.
Cumberbatch proved he's Hiddleston's right-hand man right off the bat. He didn't just tiptoe around the elephant in the room but railed at our expectation that the elephant even needed to be discussed: the elephant being, of course, the nascent Cumberbatch-Swift pairing that we were all so obsessed with this summer. Cumberbatch said:
And there’s another weight of us being in the public eye, which is this presumption that, because your work and your promotion work is very public, your private life should be, too and, without getting into a huge debate, I just want to say that I’m not going to ask questions about my friend’s personal life just because there are unsolicited photographs of him and a certain someone, in a relationship or together. I’m not going to get into that. So that door is closed, dear reader.
"Dear reader." I like the steely no-nonsense tone encased in a Cumberbatch charm offensive. He's essentially refusing to sell his friend down the river to fulfill our gratuitous curiosity about a subject that is, admittedly, none of our business. One point Cumberbatch.
Perhaps the loveliest part of the interview is the way that, at moments, it feels like you're eavesdropping on two singularly smart friends after they've had one pint too many. The interview feels more personal and relaxed and so much less PR-centric than so many celebrity interviews you get — probably because Hiddleston's interviewer happens to be a close friend, one who has chosen the same profession as him, and, as such, who gets it. When Cumberbatch essentially asks Hiddleston "What's your greatest fear?" he wends his way to the question via a few personal observations:
There’s something so mobile about you. Not just physically, not the running, but you’re very attentive to what’s in front of you. Do you have a fear of anything that could get in the way of that? I mean, it’s like asking somebody who’s seemingly invincible what they fear most. Don’t feel burdened to answer. Tell me to f*ck off if you want. You can, because I’m your friend.
According to the framework of one friend interviewing another, the questions become as revealing as Hiddleston's answers. Sure, Hiddleston's delicate, birdlike quickness won't come as a great shock to anyone who has watched a few of his movies. However, it's interesting to hear that this energy is present all the time, not just when he's performing, and it's something that Cumberbatch would pick up on.
The usual linear plot an interview takes is upturned: in response to Cumberbatch's question, Hiddleston suggests, cheekily, "Tell me yours and I’ll tell you mine," so we discover that Cumberbatch's greatest fear is "Passing time," and Hiddleston's is regret, specifically, the fear of "looking back and wishing I had done things I hadn’t."
There's an intimacy to this interview that feels special. I know sometimes there's an element of wish-fulfillment in celebrity friendships. I don't mean so much that they are engineered as that perhaps two, smart, PR-conscious celebrities might exaggerate their closeness a little in the interests of pleasing the public. But, with this interview, you get the feeling that this friendship is very close and very genuine.
Later in the interview, Hiddleston reveals that he's excited to get back to playing Loki not simply due to the joyful aspects of his role (playing the god of mischief, making tons of money, making Marvel fans ecstatic), but because of one colleague in particular. When Cumberbatch inquired what it was like returning to the role after a few years off, Hiddleston said:
The best thing about it, honestly, is working with Chris again. I first met him in Kenneth Branagh’s house in England in 2009. We were mere children, in the very beginning of our acting journeys. We made an instant connection, and it’s been extraordinary to share the ride with him—this mad journey with Marvel.
The "Chris" he's referring to here is, of course, Chris Hemsworth AKA Thor from The Avengers. The thought that not only does Hiddleston have an intense magical connection with Cumberbatch, but also with Chris Hemsworth, makes me pretty happy. Clearly, Hiddleston isn't just great at acting, but at being a social human in the world, crafting incredible friendships with his colleagues. Which just goes to show: maybe showbiz isn't the lonely, superficial community that it's occasionally made out to be. Maybe it's like anything else on the planet: a group that attracts people, some nice, some not-so-nice, and, if you put yourself out there, you're sure to meet your die-hard BFFs.
Images: Steven Klein (3)