Tom Hiddleston’s portrayal of Prince Hal in the BBC’s The Hollow Crown is currently being slathered with praise, and we've spoken to The Avengers actor about his latest Shakespearean role.
The Hollow Crown is BBC Two’s ambitious collection of Shakespeare’s history plays, comprising Richard II , Henry IV Parts 1 & 2 , and Henry V . Hiddleston is Prince Hal, a central player who goes on to become – SPOILER! – Henry V.
When we recently caught up with the Asgardian outcast, he spoke about the challenges of the role, and even compared Prince Hal to Loki.
What was it like filming Henry IV Parts 1 & 2 and Henry V ?
"It’s so ambitious, what we’re trying to do. I did it Benjamin Button -style, in reverse order. So I started with the end of Henry V and slowly worked backwards.
"So before Christmas we shot the battle of Agincourt, and after Christmas we shot pre-Agincourt, and then I had a day off and went to the end of Henry IV , where Hal rejects Falstaff. And my last day on Henry IV is the opening scenes in the pub when he’s the most rebellious."
Sounds hard to get your head round…
"But I feel it’s kind of interesting, because, in character, I’m shedding responsibility as I go. So I started with the weight of war on my shoulders, the lessons that he learns about leadership and about war and kingship, and I end with the smiles and laughter of rebellion."
Do you see any parallels between Prince Hal and Loki?
"Well, it’s fathers and sons. Henry IV [ Jeremy Irons ] and Hal have a very testy relationship – it’s quite mutually fractious. It’s that classic thing of a powerful, commanding father at loggerheads with his eldest son, who’s the only person with his middle finger raised to his father’s authority.
"It’s that classical mythological trope of, in order for the son to become a man, he must first kill his father – not literally, but metaphorically – and that’s what Hal’s doing.
"You’ve got a dynastic family running a kingdom, with a very powerful father and a very rebellious son, so I’m really feeling the parallels between Odin and Loki and Henry IV and Hal. I’m flexing the same muscles."
The final part of The Hollow Crown , Henry V, airs on BBC Two at 8pm on Saturday 21 July 2012.