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Which Part of His Preparation for 'High Rise' Nearly Caused Tom Hiddleston to Pass Out?

By Cindy Davis | Celebrity | September 17, 2015 |

By Cindy Davis | Celebrity | September 17, 2015 |

Who knew the Hiddles was method?

Speaking with Uproxx as part of his TIFF High Rise press tour, our Tom talked about his preparations to play wealthy physician, Dr. Robert Laing. As one of the residents of what’s basically a city in a luxury residential tower — block separated by class (think a vertical, stationary Snowpiercer) — Laing has to deal with some of the stomach-churning fallout after the tower inhabitants become disenchanted by the disparity. The closed environment breaks down into an isolated, chaotic microcosm of society, as the have-nots violently go after the tower’s upper echelon. Apparently the film has a pretty graphic scene…

****Spoiler Alert: Description of that graphic scene follows — swipe ahead to read: At one point, Dr. Laing has to “pull the face off a severed head…” End Spoiler****

and to get ready for his role, Hiddleston read J.G. Ballard books (Crash, Concrete Island) and interviews — and he also spent a day doing autopsies with a forensic pathologist. I’m not sure how exactly he made it through that experience, and quite possibly, neither is the Hiddles:

“I almost fainted. And my brain in that moment couldn’t handle seeing the human engineering, the flesh of it — to literally see a person opened up. And this highly skilled expert who is simply doing his job is deconstructing this body like he’s a mechanic. He’s trying to determine the cause of death. He suspected there was a brain hemorrhage, and he opened the skull and examined the brain. And he showed me that this is what he was looking for and there’s nothing physiology wrong with the brain. So, he’s going to have to find the cause of death probably in his guts and his kidneys. And he said this fascinating thing: Behavioral dysfunction is very rarely detectable in the physical matter of the brain. So if there’s something behaviorally wrong with somebody, whether they are prone to hysteria or schizophrenia or depression or all of these very genuine diagnosable disorders, it’s sometimes very hard when you’re examining the physical matter of someone’s head; it’s very hard to see it. The rest of it is just chemicals and nurture.”


I do love that he’ll do what it takes to get the part just right. Hiddleston explains how he got into the right mindspace:

“I take particular pleasure in creating an intellectual and imaginative context in which to place myself when we shoot… in some way, I’ve built a thematic scaffolding so then I can then be instinctive.”

Thematic scaffolding? Brilliant. That’s totally going in my mind palace.


High Rise is directed by Ben Wheatley, also stars Luke Evans, Elisabeth Moss, Jeremy Irons, Sienna Miller and James Purefoy (release date TBA).

Cindy Davis, (Twitter)