Tom Hiddleston Takes on the Monster King in “KONG: SKULL ISLAND”
One of today's most popular actors, Tom Hiddleston (Crimson Peak, Thor) stars in Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures' new action Kong: Skull Island as British SAS officer, Captain James Conrad.
In the film, a diverse team of explorers is brought together to venture deep into an uncharted island in the Pacific – as beautiful as it is treacherous – unaware that they’re crossing into the domain of the mythic Kong.
James Conrad is sent to Vietnam to teach jungle warfare and survival techniques to American troops, but as the war comes to an end, he becomes something of a lost and disillusioned soul. Recruited as a tracker for supposedly scientic expedition, Conrad’s raw courage, survival skills and understanding of nature could represent the exploration’s best shot at making it off the island alive.
“I’ve always been fascinated by human beings who endure the greatest extremities of nature, and that’s Conrad,” Hiddleston says.
Cast a year and a half before cameras rolled on Kong: Skull Island, the actor dove into research and uncovered a little known aspect of the war that would become the backbone of this disillusioned adrenaline junkie. “England never officially entered the Vietnam War, but digging around, I found out that British Special Forces had secretly been deployed to Cambodia or Indonesia to train the Americans and South Vietnamese because of their expertise in jungle warfare,” the actor explains. “So, it was thrilling for me to have the chance to collaborate with director Jordan Vogt-Roberts and the producers in shaping who this character was and where he is as he embarks on an adventure that will essentially challenge everything he does, or doesn’t, believe in.”
Hiddleston adds, “It’s a world before the tyranny of global satellites, near total surveillance and information overload. We didn’t have the illusion—as we do today with the internet and cell phones and GPS—that we knew everything about the world we live in. The period setting also gave us an extraordinary prism to explore what Kong might represent in a conversation about war, and the tendency of mankind to destroy what he doesn’t understand.”
When the expedition finally discovers the huge, devastatingly powerful Kong, Conrad recognizes that they’re unmatched. “He sees the power of nature in Kong and his experience in the wild has taught him the futility of resisting,” notes Hiddleston. “It’s like shouting into a hurricane. A certain humility is necessary, and Conrad understands that immediately. But on this mission, even Conrad’s considerable experience and education is trumped by something new—something primordial and monolithic.”
Conrad’s close encounter with the island’s majestic King reveals to him something he was seeking and didn’t even know it: redemption. “Conrad is scanning the territory from a high cliff, and then suddenly Kong’s face is a meter away, within touching distance,” Hiddleston details. “He knows he’s being seen by Kong and that he’s looking into the eyes of a sentient being, and it reopens his heart to wonder and innocence and humility. Conrad starts this journey from a place of cynicism—a soldier taking an easy paycheck. He was sleepwalking through his life, but now he’s fully awake.”
Kong: Skull Island also stars Samuel L. Jackson, Oscar winner Brie Larson, John Goodman and John C. Reilly. The international ensemble cast also includes Tian Jing, Corey Hawkins, Jason Mitchell, John Ortiz, Thomas Mann, Shea Whigham, Toby Kebbell and Eugene Cordero.