Off to a Loki start: why Taylor Swift’s reported beau Tom Hiddleston deserves a break

There’s a lot more to the Shakespearean British actor than playing the trickster god Loki in the Thor films, so let’s cut the Loki jokes on social media, whether or not we think he and Swift are for real

PUBLISHED : Monday, 20 June, 2016, 12:27pm
UPDATED : Monday, 20 June, 2016, 12:27pm

It’s been only a few weeks since pop star and almost perpetual trending topic Taylor Swift and DJ/Armani underwear model Calvin Harris ended their relationship after 15 months, but she may have already found new love.

On June 2, The Washington Post reported: “Theories as to why Harris and Swift ended include the DJ’s purported unhappiness over Swift’s Met Gala dance with Tom Hiddleston, an actor known for his role as trickster god Loki [in the Thor films].”

Reaction on Twitter:

If photos released last week by British tabloid daily The Sun are to be believed, that latter theory may have hit the proverbial nail on the head. They show Swift and Hiddleston walking, snuggling and kissing on wet rocks in Rhode Island near the ocean and have the internet in its familiar Swift-has-a-boyfriend tizzy.

It’s already been blessed with a hashtag: #Hiddleswift.

Some think it might be nothing more than a publicity stunt. Mostly, though, the web is full of “Loki” jokes, referring to the villain Hiddleston plays in the Thor films.

The actor appears to divide opinion online. Hiddleston is an active topic on Tumblr, whose users laud and despise him with equal measure. For every adoring feed, titled with things like “All Tom, all the time” and “TEAM HIDDLESTON,” there is one simply titled “Go f-- yourself Tom Hiddleston” and another titled “Tom Hiddleston Ruined Everything.”

Much of this hate seems to focus on his most famous role. Yes, he gained international fame for playing Loki in several films, but there’s another side to the British actor that many fans probably don’t know. He’s first and foremost a Shakespeare fan and accomplished stage actor.

The 35-year-old holds a degree in classics from Pembroke College at the University of Cambridge and was discovered there while performing in a production of A Streetcar Named Desire, the Telegraph reported.

More Twitter reaction:

His love of the stage, particularly the plays of William Shakespeare, stuck with him. In 2007, he won the Laurence Olivier Award for best newcomer in a play for his role in Shakespeare’s Cymbeline and was nominated for the exact same award that year for his performance as Cassio in Othello, according to IMDb.

From December 2013 to February 2014, he portrayed the titular character in Coriolanus at the Donmar Warehouse in London. The role earned him the Evening Standard Theatre Award for best actor.

In a video for The Guardian, Hiddleston reflects on how he grew to love the Bard. When he was 10 years old, a teacher – “one of those English teachers who are kind of extinct now who just believe in learning things ... (they believe you should) get it in the bones, even if you don’t understand it, and you’ll never forget” – taught him “double, double, toil and trouble,” a famous line from Macbeth.

“We had no idea what we were reading, but he was so enthusiastic about it,” Hiddleston said. “It must have in some way seeped into my bones.”

It seems to have remained there. In a 2013 interview with the A.V. Club, he and Todd VanDerWerff have an in-depth conversation about Shakespeare. Hiddleston’s favourite play? Much Ado About Nothing.

Hiddleston said of the play: “It’s about your last chance. You might have sworn off finding the right person and think, ‘Love’s not for me. Marriage isn’t for me. I will die a bachelor, or I will die a maid. None of your romance, none of your love poems.’ It’s about these two old cynics who are like, ‘Nah, it’s not going to happen for me.’

“And it does. I think that’s just very redemptive and sweet.”

He’s portrayed Shakespearean characters on-screen, playing Prince Hal in The Hollow Crown, a miniseries adaptation of Richard II, and both parts of Henry IV and Henry V.

In other words, Hiddleston has had a long and varied career, most of which does not include his playing a Norse god in that constant stream of Marvel movies.

So for Hiddleston’s sake and the sake of all of our Twitter feeds, stop making Loki puns. Please.