Tom Hiddleston discusses voicing James and the Animation Process for Tinkerbell and The Pirate Fairy
TOM HIDDLESTON (voice of James) garnered his first television role in Stephen Whittaker’s adaptation of “Nicholas Nickleby” for ITV, shortly after his role in a production of “A Streetcar Named Desire.” Roles followed in two one-off television dramas, “Conspiracy” and the Emmy Award®-winning “The Gathering Storm,” co-produced by HBO and the BBC. A graduate of the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, Hiddleston has also been seen in the British independent film, “Unrelated,” “The Changeling” by Thomas Middleton, and Declan Donnellan’s production of Shakespeare’s late romance, “Cymbeline.” His credits include the period BBC drama “Miss Austen Regrets,” Michael Grandage’s production of “Othello” at the Donmar Warehouse, the series “Wallander,” the Donmarv Warehouse/West End production of Chekhov’s “Inanov,” “Return to Cranford,” “Archipelago,” Woody Allen’s “Midnight in Paris,” Steven Spielberg’s “War Horse” and Terence Davies’ “The Deep Blue Sea.” Hiddleston is perhaps best known for his role as the villain Loki in Kenneth Branagh’s “Thor” for Marvel, a role that he reprised in the 2012 blockbuster hit movie “Marvel’s The Avengers,” and in 2013s highly anticipated big-screen adventure “Thor: The Dark World.” Recent credits also include “Henry IV Parts 1&2,” “Henry V” and Joanna Hogg’s “Exhibition.” He returned to London’s West End, the Donmar Warehouse, to play the title role in Shakespeare’s “Coriolanus.” Upcoming projects include “Only Lovers Left Alive,” Disney’s “Muppets Most Wanted” and Guillermo del Toro’s Gothic thriller “Crimson Peak.”
ABOUT THE MOVIE
From the world of “Peter Pan” comes “Tinker Bell and The Pirate Fairy,” a swashbuckling new adventure about Zarina (voice of Christina Hendricks), a smart and ambitious dust-keeper fairy who’s captivated by Blue Pixie Dust and its endless possibilities. When Zarina’s wild ideas get her into trouble, she flees Pixie Hollow and joins forces with the scheming pirates of Skull Rock, who make her captain of their ship. Tinker Bell (voice of Mae Whitman) and her friends must embark on an epic adventure to find Zarina, and together they go sword-to-sword with the band of pirates led by a cabin boy named James (voice of Tom Hiddleston), who’ll soon be known as Captain Hook himself. With laughter, heart, magic and thrills….
How would you describe your character in “Tinker Bell and The Pirate Fairy”?
I play a pirate named James in “Tinker Bell and The Pirate Fairy.” James is a young, optimistic, energetic and innocent pirate – if it’s possible to be innocent as a pirate. He’s got a very youthful energy about him.
As an actor, I’m always looking for a beautiful journey in a character; I’m always looking for a character that is threaded through a story in an interesting way. Well, James has an incredible arc. I love being in the audience watching big stories on an epic scale – and that’s exactly what this movie is.
How would you describe James’ relationship with Zarina, the new Pixie Hollow fairy introduced in this story?
James adores Zarina. He gives her gifts and he’s kind to her. They are best friends and he refers to her as the captain of their boat. James just wants to make Zarina’s life easy. She’s the boss and she completely trusts him.
In the movie, Zarina teaches James how to fly using Blue Pixie Dust – and he’s thrilled by it. It’s the most exciting thing that’s ever happened to him in his life.
At first, it’s a bit scary for him. He’s a bit wobbly and he can’t believe that it’s happening – but then he gets the hang of it. He works out how to make the Pixie Dust and how to use it, as well as how to manufacture it. He wants to know everything about it.
What can you tell us about the pirate song you sing in the movie?
The song is called “The Frigate that Flies” and you can hear it in the middle of the film. At this point in the story, everybody is happy. Zarina is overjoyed; she loves these pirates. The sky is blue and they dream about all of the places that they’re going to pillage and plunder.
The song is about being a pirate. It’s about being on a pirate ship that flies! It’s got an amazing ancient mariner, sea-rolling energy to it. It’s got an amazing beat that’s really crisp and fun.
I’ve never sung in a recording studio before. I’ve done a lot of voice work. I’ve done books on tape and commercial voice work – but singing in a studio was completely new to me. I’ve sung on stage and I’ve been in musicals but singing in a studio was a real thrill.
I was a bit daunted at the beginning. I thought, ‘Wow… I’m at Disney and I’m recording a song for a Disney movie!’ I grew up on the great songs of Disney. My childhood was filled with the songs of “Aladdin,” “The Lion King,” “Mary Poppins” and “The Jungle Book,” so I was a bit scared at first. After warming up, I had the time of my life in there. I found my voice and it was great. It was really fun.
How tough is it to work with your voice alone on an animated project like this?
I love voice work because you’re stripped of some of your tools. You’re stripped of your body and you’re stripped of your eyes, which tell so much story when you’re doing live-action work. With voice acting, your voice has to tell all of the story, which means you have to work harder but in the most exciting way. You have a freer rein because the only ceiling on the work is your imagination.
What do you think of the animation process at Disney?
Watching the animation process is magical. Of all the gifts that people get given when they’re born; drawing, painting and pictorial representation is not my strong suit. I’ve always been in awe of people who have that gift. The studios at Disney are full of people who are like magicians to me.
How would you describe the look of James and his pirate friends?
Young James is on a ship full of pirates of different shapes. Basically, these pirates are squares and rectangles and trapezoids. But James is very human. He’s young and lean – and he looks very dashing. He’s got long hair and a sense of youthfulness about him.
Did you want to be a pirate when you were a child?
During the school summer holidays, my sisters and my cousins would write plays. And at the end of the end of the summer, we’d perform them for our parents. That’s when I started acting. My sisters and my eldest cousin, Zoe, would write the play. My cousin Matt would make the stage. He was really good with his hands, so he’d make swords, a ship, the sea and all that stuff. And I would always play the bad guy. I’m pretty sure I played Captain Hook at one point.
What do you think of Captain Hook from the tales of Peter Pan?
Hook wants to be the bad guy. He’s not a complicated bad guy in that he thinks he’s the good guy. He knows he’s bad. He relishes it. He relishes being a pirate and having huge ambitions to steal and plunder. As a child, you love him for that. You’re partly afraid of him, but you partly love him. You think, “Look at that man having so much fun. He’s so elegant and stylish – and he’s so witty.” I’ve always loved Hook. I always thought he was a great character.
How much of a “Peter Pan” fan are you?
I grew up on “Peter Pan.” I grew up on J.M. Barrie’s book and the Disney film. It was one of the films that me and my sisters – and my whole family – used to watch on a loop. We grew up on all of those early Disney movies, including “The Jungle Book,” “Peter Pan,” “Sleeping Beauty,” “Robin Hood” and “Mary Poppins,” which is one of my favorite films.
How does it feel to be part of such an iconic new movie set against the backdrop of Pixie Hollow and Neverland?
As a child, I loved the story of Neverland. I used to watch “Peter Pan” and I loved the story of the Lost Boys and the pirates, as well as Tinker Bell and Wendy. I loved all that stuff. Never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined that I would one day be an actor who was called upon to play a role in a movie like this. It’s amazing. It’s a huge, huge honor. I feel so proud and happy.
What excites you the most about the movie’s release?
My oldest sister has a daughter who is going to love this movie so much. That makes me really happy. One day, when I have kids of my own, I hope they’ll see it, too. I hope they laugh about their dad playing this iconic role.
“Tinker Bell and The Pirate Fairy” is out on Blu-ray and DVD from 23rd June 2014