Born and raised in England, Tom Hiddleston initially studied for a degree in classical studies and only later got noticed by a casting agent when acting in a Cambridge play. In 2011, the actor had a major global break as four films of his were released: Thor, Midnight and Paris, The Deep Blue Sea, and War Horse. Hiddleston’s role as Loki in the MCU has launched him into superstardom and made him one of the most recognizable actors in the world.
Updated October 12, 2023: In honor of Loki season 2 premiering, this article has been updated by Rafa Boladeras with even more great performances by Tom Hiddleston.
Hiddleston is certainly one of those actors who take the little they sometimes get offered and turn it into something unforgettable. He deeply cares and fights for the characters he portrays. He has an exciting career ahead of him, and we look forward to seeing more of him. But for now, these are Tom Hiddleston’s best performances, ranked.
13 Midnight in Paris (2011)
Let’s start with the first time that Owen Wilson and Tom Hiddleston shared a screen. Midnight in Paris is a fantasy comedy movie that tells the story of Gil Pender (Wilson), who travels back in time from present-day every midnight and gets intensely obsessed with the 1920s and somehow meets F. Scott Fitzgerald (Hiddleston), whom he studied his whole life before meeting him. Although Hiddleston’s role is quite minimal, he blends with his character so perfectly that it’s hard to accept the fact that he is, in fact, not Fitzgerald himself.
12 War Horse (2011)
Steven Spielberg’s War Horse tells the story of Albert (Jeremy Irvine) and his bond with his horse Joey during World War I. This is a unique tale that started as a book and then became a play, and is a tender, sad, tragic story. The director used many great British actors, including Hiddleston and future MCU player Benedict Cumberbatch, for this film, but it is Hiddleston who gives a great performance in a small but essential role as Captain Nichols. He’s the military man who rides Joey and promises Albert he will take good care of him, proving he’s just a good, decent man. Someone who might be too good for the business of war.
11 Kong: Skull Island (2017)
Even by the standards of the King Kong franchise that has been developing these last few years, Kong: Skull Island might be the weirdest film of them all. Set in the 1970s and with some homages to Apocalypse Now, this is the story of a group of soldiers and scientists who end up on a strange island, one where King Kong lives.
Hiddleston plays the action hero of the film, ex-British Special Air Service Captain James Conrad, the most badass man in the whole movie. He might be hired as a hunter-tracker and mercenary, but during the film he becomes the de facto leader of this unique squad. The actor shines in this role, and that saying something as both John C. Reilly and John Goodman try to steal every scene they appear in during the movie.
10 High Rise (2015)
Based on the novel of the same name by J.G. Ballard, High Rise is a sci-fi story about a high-rise building and all the people that live in it and the obvious class divisions between them. When the technology in the building starts failing, the class divide is made much more obvious, and the whole building becomes a lord-of-the-flies, everybody-for-themselves hell whole. Hiddleston plays the main character and narrator, Dr. Robert Laing, a physician who starts the movie in the upper-level apartments and wants to keep improving his standing.
Even though his Laing is no hero, the actor makes the character interesting, even if he isn’t as morally assured as he had believed at the start of the movie, making for a very interesting and unique arc that proves Hiddleston can create gray, morally questionable characters into great leads, who audiences end up rooting for despite themselves.
9 Crimson Peak (2015)
Set in the Edwardian English era, Crimson Peak is considered a gothic horror movie directed and written by Guillermo del Toro. Despite being criticized for its plot and characters and poorly performing at the box office, Tom Hiddleston did an amazing job at portraying the character of Thomas Sharpe, an English baronet, and the mysterious husband of the main character Edith (Mia Wasikowska).
Yes, it can be argued that the movie is quite predictable, but per usual, Hiddleston manages to portray his character multi-dimensionally, thereby bringing depth to the formulaic sad Victorian boy trope.
8 Only Lovers Left Alive (2013)
If you want to see Tom Hiddleston as a vampire in a comedy-drama (near horror if you’re frightened by vampires), then Only Lovers Left Alive is your movie. The plot tells the story of two vampire lovers, Eve (Tilda Swinton) and Adam (Hiddleston), who get together after a long time, only to get disrupted by Eve’s wild sister. It appears that not many people are aware of the actor’s sweet-loving super-emo role, but they should. All the vampire characters casually mention being involved in major historical events, which may be perceived as cliché but can be overlooked.
7 The Avengers (2012)
The Avengers was proof that the interconnected MCU had arrived and was here to stay, as this was the film that connected everything that had come before, as the Avengers finally assembled and fought against Loki (Hiddleston) in the Battle of New York. This is the character that most people know Hiddleston for, as he’s been able to find new and interesting characteristics to Thor’s (Chris Hemsworth) half-brother, who always has felt less-than and who loves power as much as chaos and games, and here is in full villain mode, talking about subjugating humanity.
While Hiddleston previously played Loki the year before in Thor, it is in The Avengers that he truly finds the character, and he becomes a global superstar. This is the most evil Loki in the entire MCU and the closest he is to his classic comics counterpart. Hiddleston is enjoying every moment by chewing the scenery and giving the film an added gravitas.
6 The Deep Blue Sea (2011)
The Deep Blue Sea is a movie about characters, especially Hester (Rachel Weisz), an unhappy married woman who has an affair with a Royal Air Force pilot with PTSD named Freddie (Hiddleston). Weisz is at the center of the frame, as this is her movie, showing the reasons why she decides to have the affair, all the exciting, sexy things that come with it, but also everything that she’s missing without emotional stability.
Hiddleston is a great supporting player, as both the object of Hester’s affection and lust and as the attractive, toxic, should-deal-with-his-own-demons troublemaker who lashes out to her when things aren’t going his way. This might be a small film, but one that touches on themes and stories not that talked about how women, especially wives, in the 1950s felt and tries to give an interior picture of one of them, showing why she decides to put her life upside down for a man, and what she’s looking for, a real connection.
5 The Night Manager (2016)
In 2016, Tom Hiddleston starred as the main lead, Jonathan Pine, in a British mini-series The Night Manager, a performance that has earned him a Golden Globe Award. Hiddleston plays the titular night manager who gets recruited to infiltrate the inner circle of arms dealers. Playing a mild-mannered gentleman who throws his life away to become a spy somehow suits the actor flawlessly. One would think it’d be hard to reconcile the actor in different roles, but you simply have to marvel at how easily he gets lost in his characters.
4 Thor: Ragnarok (2017)
Yes, Thor: Ragnarok is one of the best movies in the MCU’s franchise. It’s almost impossible to hate Loki and his character despite all the wrongdoings and betrayals he has caused. Tom Hiddleston needs more credit for, yet again, bringing so much depth to what was initially supposed to be a supporting villain character. From the cunning ways of teaming up with the Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum) to save his own back to finally working as a team with Tho,r and to the humor delivery — Hiddleston has not once disappointed with his portrayal of Loki. Ragnarok is arguably one of his peaks as the mischievous God.
Unrelated released back in 2007 and stars Tom Hiddleston as a young blonde rebel child called Oakley. Despite essentially being about rich people summering in an Italian village, Unrelated feels like a light, soft-spoken movie, where there are no actors, just people living. Although Hiddleston’s pre-fame role is once again minimal, he acts as a pivotal character for the main character Anna’s self-discovery.
During the vacation, she ignores her adult responsibilities and contemplates starting a fling with the years-younger Oakley until he softly turns her down, which forces her to establish herself as an adult. The movie’s quite difficult to find on streaming platforms, but make sure to have a look if you want to see Hiddleston’s young potential shining through the screen.
2 Loki (2021-Present)
We have already mentioned Hiddleston’s ability to make you fall in love with a villainous character, thanks to his mastery of bringing multiple layers to the characters he portrays. But Loki allows the actor to truly shine in the part. The actor has been finally given a chance to showcase Loki as a character with deeper emotional insight. He was allowed to show the beautifully vulnerable moments, as well as the tragically sad ones. He has finally grown as a character on this journey to himself.
1 Archipelago (2011)
Archipelago certainly has a similar feel to the aforementioned Unrelated in that a family decides to go on a getaway to the Isles of Scilly while battling family and personal problems simultaneously. Hiddleston plays the character of Edward, who’s suffering a quarter-life crisis after quitting his stable job and deciding to travel to Africa to help AIDS patients. Although this movie may not be one of the more famous ones that Hiddleston has done, it certainly has a calming feeling to it despite the family issues. It gave the actor the chance to play a more humane character, and it’s a shame you rarely see him mentioned among Hiddleston’s other, more prominent, roles.
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