Elle UK - In a new production of Shakespeare’s tragedy, Corionalus, directed by Josie Rourke, for the Donmar Warhouse, ELLE favourite Tom Hiddleston plays Caius Marcius Coriolanus. Here, he shares his insight into the play:
‘Coriolanus is really interesting because the arch is fully tragic. The character’s name is Caius Marcius and he is an extraordinary soldier. He is the guy that you want on your team. He is just a righteous badass. He exists and excels in a space where things are very black and white.
‘There’s a war against a mortal enemy and he takes a town called Coriolies single-handed. He’s not a skilled politician but he gives a big, rousing speech and the gate to the town opens and he says, ‘now put your shields before your hearts and fight with hearts more proof than shields’. And runs in and the gates close behind him and his entire army thinks, we’ve just lost our best man. He’s locked in this enemy town, he’s gone. What are we going to do? Half an hour later he’s on the battlements covered in blood, screaming hell fury and he’s taken the town single-handed.
‘The town’s name is Corialies. At the end of the battle the army are so proud of him. He won’t take any prizes so instead they call him Marcius Corialanus as he took Corialies on his own.
‘He has this backbone and he’s unflinching and he does not dilute his integrity at all to the point of being incredibly proud and some might say selfish. Basically his integrity and his virtue are his downfall. And in terms of the arch of a tragic hero it’s perfect. Amazing, amazing. Take a town, war hero, rebel, outcast, enemy – dead.’