The M Interview: Jessica Chastain says the sexiest thing about Tom Hiddleston is...
US actress Jessica Chastain shares details about Crimson Peak co-star Tom Hiddleston
There is something about British actor Tom Hiddleston that makes even a happily married reporter in her 30s turn to mush, and US actress Jessica Chastain knows it.
"I can tell by the way you're asking about Tom that you have a crush on him!" she teased while talking about their new Gothic thriller, Crimson Peak, over the phone with M from Los Angeles back in July, causing this reporter to momentarily blush on the other side of the line.
Of course, Chastain is absolutely right.
Which member of the fairer sex has not been enamoured with Hiddleston, 34, since he showed up as playful Norse god Loki in the Thor and Avengers movies?
Being unable to secure an interview with the man himself, the next best thing was to get the juicy details from his Crimson Peak co-star, who was only too happy to oblige.
The pair have been friends since 2012, when they met at the BAFTAs (British Academy Film Awards) and bonded over a love of Shakespeare.
"What is the most sexy thing about Tom? It is hard for me to say, because I see him as a friend, but I think it is his voice. He has such a lovely accent, doesn't he?" said Chastain, who is currently also seen on the big screens here playing heroic astronaut Commander Melissa Lewis in the Matt Damon drama The Martian.
With mischief rising in her voice, she added: "You know Tom has a sex scene in this movie, right? I think his fans will love it."
Alas, while the original version of Crimson Peak is rated R in the US and features a tantalising look at Hiddleston in the nude, the scene was cut out for local release to meet requirements for the NC16 rating here.
It opens here tomorrow.
Still, fans have Chastain to thank for introducing Hiddleston to the Crimson Peak project in the first place.
"Tom and I have been saying for years how great it would be to work on something together," said Chastain, 38. "So when (director-producer-writer) Guillermo (del Toro) approached me for this, I suggested that Tom get involved too. It is amazing to have worked with him on a movie finally."
Crimson Peak is del Toro's Gothic horror romance with all the trimmings: An innocent heroine, a dashing Byronic hero, crimson stains on snow and the howls of old ghosts.
Mia Wasikowska stars as Edith Cushing, an American author who falls in love with Englishman Sir Thomas Sharpe (Hiddleston). When she marries him and goes to England to live with him and his sister Lady Lucille Sharpe (Chastain), she is haunted by the Sharpe family's ghostly past.
While Edith is the story's narrator and protagonist, it is her antagonist Lucille who is the more fascinating character.
And Chastain, with her knack for playing smart, intelligent women - think Murph in Interstellar and Maya in Zero Dark Thirty - absolutely nails it.
While she initially read for Edith, she requested to play Lucille instead because she was drawn to the character's darker edge.
"I've never played a character like Lucille. I always like to stretch beyond what I've done before, and I was attracted to Lucille's extreme loneliness. I saw her as a tragic heroine; like a rescue animal who desperately wants to be touched and loved.
"Of course, Lucille detests animals, which is the complete opposite of me. I took my dog Batman to the set, and when he wandered into a scene one day, I had to pretend to ignore him, which was really hard."
Chastain is full of praise for Mexican film-maker del Toro, having also starred in the 2013 horror film Mama, which he produced.
"I just love Guillermo. I was so blown away by his compassion and his dedication to his family, who came to visit him on set. I like the contrast of how he can be this loving husband and father to his two daughters, while also creating this world of horror and darkness."
As our interview drew to a close, Chastain had one more surprise up her sleeve.
"Tom is doing press with me today... what's your name? I'll tell him later that you're a fan of his," she offered, making this reporter giddy with excitement.
She may love to explore her sinister side on screen, but we are just going to say it: Chastain is the sweetest actress ever.
The M Match-Up
Tom Hiddleston excels at playing creeps. In the Thor flicks, he played the titular hero's trouble-making godbrother Loki. In Crimson Peak, he plays Mia Wasikowska's odd hubby Thomas Sharpe. Question is, who's more delightfully weird? Let's check!
Crimson Tom : Thomas Sharpe is a faded aristocrat who's desperate to improve his family's lot. He and his sister (Jessica Chastain) live in a ramshackle mansion and share some very dark secrets. His new bride (Wasikowska) is in for a nasty surprise.
Loki Tom : Everyone knows Loki is loco. A preening, ineffectual goofball, he believes he should rule the Earth. He's a master liar and manipulator, and is willing to do anything to come out tops. Fortunately, he's also a born loser and his plans come to naught.
ROUND ONE: LOKI TOM
Bad boy Loki goes big, then goes home.
Crimson Tom: With his lanky frame and elegant air, Hiddleston looks fab in his old-timey Victorian threads. He also looks fab out of them, judging by fan reaction to his steamy love scene. Sharpe is a thinking woman's sex symbol, until that thinking woman learns how corrupt he truly is.
Loki Tom: Loki ain't a hunk, especially compared to his uber-hunky bro Thor (Chris Hemsworth).
This effeminate drama queen doesn't have a discernible sexuality, and it's scary to imagine what he might desire. His only turn-on seems to be power. That said, he does have tons of female fans.
ROUND TWO: CRIMSON TOM
Nice to see Hiddleston get his Victorian freak on.
Crimson Tom: His sister Lucille is the gloomiest girl alive. She hates his new wife. In fact, she hates everything and everyone except her bro, whom she loves a bit too much. She's involved in schemes up to her glazed-over eyeballs and keeps secrets hidden away in locked rooms. Her velvet wardrobe rocks.
Loki Tom: : Poor Loki will forever be in the shadow of the most handsome, glorious god in the galaxy. With his long blond locks, hammer and flowing red cape, he doesn't do much for the slender Loki's self-image. When your brother is everyone's hero, you have no choice but to play the villain.
ROUND THREE: LOKI TOM
This is a sibling rivalry for the ages.
THE WINNER: LOKI TOM
A poster boy for bitter, awkward beta males the world over, Loki is one delusional creep with flash and panache. - Jason Johnson
Films directed by Guillermo del Toro (above) may be stylised entities, but they also do decent business at the box office
Pacific Rim (2013)
Hellboy II: The Golden Army (2008)
Pan's Labyrinth (2006)