Interview: Talking KONG: SKULL ISLAND With Tom Hiddleston and Brie Larson
A few weeks ago we had a chance to sit down with Tom Hiddleston and Brie Larson and talk about their upcoming film Kong: Skull Island.
A compelling original adventure from director Jordan Vogt-Roberts, the film tells the story of a diverse team of scientist, soldiers and adventures uniting to explore a mythical uncharted island in the Pacific as dangerous as it is beautiful. Cut off from everything they know the team ventures into the domain of the mighty Kong, igniting the ultimate battle between man and nature. As their mission of discovery becomes one of survival they must fight to escape a primal Eden in which humanity does not belong.
Here is what they both had to say about the film.
Were you a big Kong fan as a kid?
Tom Hiddleston: I was there is something about the natural world that is all exciting for children and a giant prehistoric ape for a kid is just a cool idea. In my mind I remember the images from the 1933 film, Kong on top of the empire state building or him fighting off a a dinosaur are what I remember. I think I came to the 70’s version a little bit later.
So was it an immediate yes when they came to you about this film?
Tom Hiddleston: When the role was presented to me in the summer of 2014 it was pitched as an adventure film and I was going to play the hero. He was an adventure and he was someone who was highly skilled, physically adept and resourceful and then we created a back story for him. It was very appealing to me that a film set in 1973, the world had just gone through the upheavals of the late 60’s, socially, politically, all of these revolutions have come through and you find this British SAS soldier who has been sought out specifically because the SAS was so highly regarded in their skills of jungle warfare and with recognizance and recovery and he’s lost and doesn’t really know.
Brie, you and Tom had a lot of moments together, how did you guys bond?
Brie Larson: We all hung out a lot. Part of the making of this movie was the hang. I was the den mother and would arrange the weekends. We were so deep in the jungle we couldn’t go back to our trailers to rest, even going to the bathroom was a problem. I felt like I was holding everything up so we ended up in this tent with fifteen chairs and no cell service.
This is basically man versus nature, would you say that was a main theme in the film?
Tom Hiddleston: For me a theme in the film is the power and majesty of nature. A healthy connection with the natural world makes us more human and not less. The arrogance of man is thinking that nature is in our control when it’s actually the other way around. When we consider the history of our planet you realize the existence of the human race has been really short. Inside the spectacle and action of this film, inside it contains a message that there is a natural intelligence at work which is designed to keep life in balance and I think that is an idea that people can connect to.
Brie did you have your inner tom boy that came out in this film since you were the only girl on set?
Brie Larson: I feel like I’m a tom boy all the time, I’m amazed that I pulled off that I’m well groomed and polite. I really enjoy the grittiness of life and when we were making this film at the same time as the Room award season stuff, it was such a great balance for me. On weekends I would go to the Golden Globes and it would be hours of getting scrubbed and painted on and you feel like this beautiful doll and then Sunday night I’m flying back and Monday I’m with a bunch of guys that would congratulate me and just move on and need me to roll in the dirt and fall face first and then I would eat a cheeseburger. It was this huge dichotomy in my life at that time. It felt great.
It was different seeing an ex-British military man involved in Vietnam during this time.
Tom Hiddleston: The British army had a jungle warfare school in Malaya. The official line from the administration at that time was that British troops were not deployed there but their skills were regarded as specialist in jungle warfare so they were trainers. I did a lot of research into special forces operatives but I never been close to that conflict and courage that it takes to do that job. I also read a great book called “The Tracker’ and it was a great book about a young man who’s father is a tracker and they learn how to read the terrane and hide from wild dogs and make friends with them. I find people that live in harmony with nature and the wilderness very fascinating. I have a hunch these were all skills we used to have before we became civilized.
How was it working in these different locations and temperatures?
Brie Larson: You watch the film and it looks like you’re in one place and it’s one temperature but we went through every extreme weather possible. On this film there was just my one tank top and pant so it didn’t matter if it was 102 degrees out side or if it was hailing, it was the same. It was really, really cold in Vietnam and it was hot in Hawaii. It almost seems you’re dressed the opposite of what you want to be.
Tom Hiddleston: I love being outside and I think the great strength of this film is that you can tell we are shooting in real locations. For us it made less work, there’s enough to already imagine you are staring into the face of a 100 year old prehistoric ape. It was either a swamp in Vietnam or a rain-forest in Queensland Australia. When we went to Australia we were taking to a place called Mount Tambourine in the Gold Coast and we were taken by a security officer who said there are spiders, brown snakes, and there is this plant called a wait a while because if you come into contact with it with your bare skin, you’ll wait a while and you’ll need to be rushed to the emergency room. Just knowing we were in these real jungles it just made it more atmospheric.
What would you say was the highlight of working on this film?
Tom Hiddleston: The excitement of watching this is that I spent six months of my life staring at tall trees, high mountains and clouds in the sky. It’s like playing tennis with only half the court. When you
finally watch it and in post production and they put the other half of the court in and you’re playing with King Kong, that’s very thrilling. When you finally see those scenes it’s thrilling.
Brie Larson: I learned a lot because when we started filming this, Room hadn’t come out. My life completely changed through the course of making this movie. With my life changing it can be a really difficult thing to comprehend and understand that I had people like Goodman and Sam that where able to talk me through it and give me wisdom.
Brie having done this film now do you see it as a bit of a dress rehearsal for your new role as Captain Marvel?
Brie Larson: Yeah, it seems like I knew what I was doing but I didn’t (laughs). Certain things are just different when it comes to bigger movies, in particular working with things that aren’t there, working with a green screen. I lucked out that this was very much like dipping your toe in because most of what we shot was actually there aside from the creatures of course. The jungles we were in were actually real. I’m very dependent on my scene partner because I’m looking into their eyes and responding to the slightest eye movement. So stripping that away and there’s just a tape mark it seemed like a really big jump. Eventually I had to cry to a tape mark but by then I was a couple months in and I was fine.
Are you involved at all with King Kong vs. Godzilla?
Brie Larson: No, I don’t think so.
Tom will there be a Night Manager 2?
Tom Hiddleston: You’ll have to wait and see.
Have you gotten the call for Infinity Wars?
Tom Hiddleston: You’ll have to wait and see.
Kong: Skull Island is in theaters March 10th