Translated into English by TomHiddleston-France
It appears you speak French better than Bradley Cooper. Is it true?
Really? [In French] It’s up to you! I learnt your language in school in England, from 10 to 16 years old. Then I worked in France in a theatre company and, most recently, I shot Midnight in Paris in your area under the direction of Woody Allen. I try not to become rusty.
Last May, Only Lovers Left Alive was presented in Cannes competition. It was your first time on the Croisette and you almost didn’t come…
Don’t remind it to me, this has been an epic travel! The day before the film screening, I had to take the plane in London, but the airport closed in front of my nose at 22pm because the engine of a plane was on fire and an emergency landing procedure had to be setting. In short, my flight has been cancelled and because there was no Eurostar left, I made hitch-hiking and I took a taxi to go to Douvre. It was raining cats and dogs, I was soaking wet. So at 2am, I found myself in a boat ; at 5am I landed at Calais and I jumped in another taxi to join Paris ; at 8.30am I was at Orly Airport : at 9.30am in a plane to Nice ; and at 2.30pm I arrived exactly for the press conference!
It’s funny; you travelled by night by sea and land, like Nosferatu. You were in the character…
Absolutely! But I survived the sun rising…
Is it Loki, the gloomy super-villain character you played in Thor and The Avengers, who gave to Jim Jarmusch the idea of choosing you for the role of a vampire?
No, he has not seen those films! I simply showed to Jim a photo of me in The Avengers so that he could be aware of how I look like with black hair. Because I am naturally blond, he was afraid it would appear weird, but he was relieved.
We imagine your meeting at dusk in a Detroit local bar…
[Laughs] Absolutely not! We met each other for a cup of tea in a very cozy cafe in Manhattan. I was promoting War Horse and was on the verge of starting Henry V, a BBC series adapted from the Shakespeare play. He asked me not to read the scenario and described me the character like an “Hamlet who would be played by Syd Barrett”! That was enough to convince me. In any case, I love Down by Law, Dead Man and Night on Earth so much that I was already conquered.
Were you looking for an independent project to stretch your legs between two blockbusters?
I don’t think like that. I don’t tell myself:”Well, I am going to alternate big productions and little independent projects.” I chose what motivates me when the things occur. In order to be in good shape you have to eat everything. The combined diet is healthier than protein-enriched diet. And it works also for the cinema. I already played a certain number of soldiers and super-heroes. Here, Jim allowed me to personify romanticism and melancholy. Adam, my character, is a talented musician et a brilliant engineer. Music fascinates him as much as science. He likes resonating particles, whether it is string instruments or stars in the outer space. As a member of the audience I want also to eat everything: a romantic comedy like The Proposal with Sandra Bullock, and Lars von Trier’s Antichrist.
Adam has an amazing quickdraw, midway between the vampire and rock star. Who have you inspired?
We studied pictures of rock stars of the 60s as Syd Barrett, Mick Jagger – at the time of Performance (Nicolas Roeg and Donald of Cammell) – or Keith Richards. Adam has to be elegant, sophisticated, and at the same time he is wearing vintage clothing that Lord Byron would not have disowned. As Jim wanted to give a rock look to the film, it was also mentioned Tom Waits, Iggy Pop, Brian Eno, Jimi Hendrix, Bach … In short, people imbued with this spirit. And then with Tilda (Swinton, his partner in the film), it was agreed that Adam and Eve were like wolves. They are following their animal instinct of wild creatures. Despite their erudition, they are not brain but react in a physical way and are capable of appetites, in every sense of the word.
We finally see them as specimens of a species endangered that we would like to save.
Absolutely. Adam is fragile and delicate, he may be dying. Moreover, it is possible that he has no more reasons to live. Hamlet by his side, he has a tendency to melancholy and considers suicide as a possible loophole. Eve, she is there to protect him. This is also what interested me: translate a relationship in the context of immortality. This eternity is it a blessing or a curse? And finally, what is an “old” couple?
The duo that you form with Tilda Swinton tackiness all old school bloodsuckers. Robert Pattinson is sent back to the stone age …
This is a film by Jim Jarmusch and therefore, inevitably, it is not conventional. The fact that the characters are vampires is almost secondary. These are primarily musicians, poets and exiles. Tilda has a very interesting theory about Jim. She believes that one way or another, all his films are films of vampires. I think she’s right.
Between Thor and Avengers sequels, you’ll be busy during the next five years. Are you apprehensive of?
Let me be clear: I love playing Loki. It is an extraordinary character who is highly intelligent and emotionally very complex. He is evil but at the same time, his eyes sparkle and we guess a lot of suffering in him. Whenever I re-enter his skin, I try to play him differently, to make him evolve. Loki is a god, he does not age. Like Adam, who lives for centuries. He has a rich past and this amazing memory he lugs around with him is fascinating to embody. Now that I know I’ll be Loki for five or six months a year, I must make sure to choose different roles in the meantime, and budget film has nothing to do with it. Acting, it’s like the piano. 88 keys allow you to create a multitude of different melodies. Some players rather to play one air throughout their career and may even excel in this exercise. Me, I want to try all the keyboard, even if I crash!
If you were a vampire, who would you want to bite?
Ah, I love this question! Wait, I have to think … It would have to be someone who has poetry because it is a quality that is lost. Someone who wants to continue to learn and improve himself throughout his life and uses the immortality responsibly, but is not afraid to enjoy it. Tom Yorke (lead singer of Radiohead). David Bowie. And then a woman, of course: Tilda!