Tom Hiddleston’s Tips for Success

April 15, 2019

“Deal with rejection because no matter what you’re trying to achieve, if you can’t do that, then you will likely give up.” —Tom Hiddleston

English actor and producer Tom Hiddleston’s wide-ranging career includes many Shakespearean roles, the Marvel antihero Loki, the country music legend Hank Williams, and a Golden Globe-winning performance in The Night Manager television series. In the video Top 10 Rules for Success, the remarkably articulate Hiddleston discusses several obstacles he’s encountered throughout his acting journey. He elaborates on his experiences with being too careful during auditions, dealing with rejection, learning to be true to himself, and connecting with others through his work.

Hiddleston studied acting at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. Graduating in 2005, he soon became an award-winning theater actor. But his career breakthrough came when he was cast as the legendary Nordic god of mischief, Loki in the Marvel Cinematic Universe starting with the 2011 film Thor. About that time, he was also cast in significant roles in two films which went on to be nominated for the Academy Awards for Best Motion Picture of the Year: the fantasy comedy Midnight in Paris portraying fiction writer F. Scott Fitzgerald and Steven Spielberg’s War Horse playing Captain James Nicholls.

But before landing those roles, he experienced years of frustration, feeling as though he was wasting time and fearing he was inauthentic and didn’t have a worthwhile voice. He explains:

“Everything is possible and nothing is guaranteed. And you start auditioning and if you’re lucky enough you have an agent and you start auditioning, and they send you everything from period drama to [guest starring in the long-running medical drama] ‘Casualty’ to dairy milk commercials. Yep, I went up for a dairy milk commercial when I was twenty-four. And you are thrown into the business and thrown into the deep end, and there’s no time for doubt or failure—except routinely, that’s what happens to all of us. And I perhaps was too careful in auditioning and I would always get close to landing roles and to booking jobs, and I would never quite get there. I mean, this is a universal experience for all creative people, certainly actors, is the constant rejection at the beginning. And you have to get used to it and you have to get thick-skinned about it.”

He admits he was taking the rejection personally, and soon enough he found himself growing exhausted from it all. But, he came to a realization: “I thought well, no one’s going to help me get there; the only person who can do this is me. And I started preparing in a different way. And I sort of stepped up to the plate a little better, I think because I could feel time sliding away and I wasn’t getting on with life; I just was sort of stuck in this rut of neither acting nor doing anything else … So I just kind of changed everything up and worked it.”

In 2016, Hiddleston starred in and was an executive producer of the AMC / BBC limited series The Night Manager based on the espionage and detective novel of the same name by John Le Carre. He took home a Golden Globe Award for best actor in a miniseries or television film for his portrayal of the luxury hotel night manager and former British soldier Jonathan Pine. And he will be reprising his role as Loki in a new Marvel limited series centered on the character which will air on Disney’s upcoming streaming service, Disney+.

Hiddleston is eager to share his personal stories in hopes of encouraging others. He advises, “Deal with rejection because no matter what you’re trying to achieve, if you can’t do that, then you will likely give up.” And he says, “Be on time. Never underestimate the importance of punctuality. Be prepared. You can never be over-prepared. And be true to yourself. And if you have something that you want to say, that you’ve been burning to say, don’t ever let anyone tell you that you can’t say it.” Hiddleston certainly has found his own voice, and he firmly believes that everyone has a voice worth hearing. “If you’ve got something to say, say it from the rooftops!”

They Went In for One Role, But Came Out with Another

April 5, 2015

When Lily James originally auditioned for the movie Cinderella, she went in for one of the less-than-virtuous step sisters. After giving the audition her best efforts, the casting director suggested she read for the part of Cinderella as well. James was elated when, after the drawn-out process of screen tests, she was told she indeed landed the lead role. Lily had always loved Disney princesses as a child. “I was completely infatuated with all of them. I had the little slippers and would parade around the house before my brothers sort of beat me up and shattered my dreams of being a princess!” Now she got to play one.

Lily James certainly is not the first one to land a different role from the one she initially auditioned for. Wizard of Oz Scarecrow Ray Bolger was called in for the part of the Tin Woodman at first–much to his dismay; but, Bolger was under contract to play any role that MGM assigned him, and at the time, Buddy Ebsen was cast as the Scarecrow. Fortunately for Bolger, the roles were eventually switched. Unfortunately, the aluminum-powdered make up used to transform Ebsen into the Tinman coated his lungs and left him close to death, so he was unable to play the part.

When virtually unknown John Krasinski auditioned for The Office, he was called in for power-hungry Dwight Schrute. However, John strongly felt he was better suited for the mild-mannered yet prankster salesman Jim Halpert. After a bit of a wild goose chase, it turns out John did end up getting to play Jim–and Rainn Wilson took the part of Dwight even though he originally auditioned for the well-intentioned but offensive Michael Scott.


And you know the golden-horned Asgardian God of Mischief Loki played by Tom Hiddleston? Well, he originally auditioned for the part of…can you guess? Thor! “At first Tom came in for Thor,” producer Craig Kyle shared. “He trained. He came in. He was ripped. He did a tremendous job, but he wasn’t Thor.” Of course, Chris Hemsworth came to be known as Thor.

Rachel McAdams initially auditioned for the starring role of Cady Heron in the Tina Fey-scripted comedy Mean Girls. And Lindsay Lohan first read for the villain, the leader of the Plastics, Regina George. However, according to Vulture due to Lohan’s success in Freaky Friday, Director Mark Waters switched their roles. “[Freaky Friday] was a much bigger hit than we expected it to be. Sherry Lansing, who was heading Paramount at the time, told us, ‘We have to have Linday play the lead in Mean Girls. It’s just not going to work having her play the villain because she now has an audience that won’t accept that.'” Rachael McAdams was then cast as Regina because Fey believed that McAdams’ “kind and polite” manner made her well-suited for such a mean-spirited character.

All of these examples go to show just how fluid the casting experience can be for not just the actor, but for producers, directors, and executives alike. But despite everyone’s convictions, hopefully what is best for the project will win out. Have you ever had strong convictions you should be cast in a different part from which you auditioned? Did you ever land a different role from the one you went in for? Please share!