Hollywood actor Tom Hiddleston has described the works of directing greats like Alfred Hitchcock and Sir David Lean as part of Britain’s “national heritage” at an event where the Prince of Wales revealed his own cinematic tastes.
Hiddleston, the star of The Night Manager, made his comments during a British Film Institute (BFI) event marking the 40th anniversary of Charles’s patronage of the organisation.
Charles was joined at the celebration by actor David Oyelowo, famed for his role as Dr Martin Luther King in Selma, who spoke out in favour of the BFI’s work nurturing some of the next generation of filmmakers under its academy scheme.
After being shown some of the BFI’s Peter Sellers collection featuring photographs from the Pink Panther movies, the heir to the throne confessed: “I have to say whenever I put one of these on it always raises my spirits.”
Hiddleston chatted to Charles and said the prince told him he had enjoyed the BBC drama The Night Manager “very much”.
The star, famed for his role as Loki in the Marvel superhero films, added: “The reason I believe in the BFI is because I believe in film as an art form.
“It began as a physical art form, it’s a chemical process, it’s capturing life with light.”
The BFI has an important collection of Victorian films it has restored and digitised and will make available free online next year, and is home to archives of films, movie scripts, posters and other material central to the history of British cinema.
Hiddleston added: “The prints of early film work that have enabled the art form to become what it’s become, light, sound, movement, are preserved by the BFI and without it we would lose it.
“So the silent Hitchcocks, the prints of Lawrence of Arabia, Brief Encounter (by) David Lean, all British film is standing on the shoulders of those titans so the preservation of that material is as important as preserving the work of the National Portrait Gallery and the Tate, it’s part of our national heritage.”
During the visit Charles indulged his passion for the Pink Panther films starring Peter Sellers who was a member of the royal’s beloved Goons.
He was shown Sellers’ script from the Pink Panther Strikes Again with handwritten notes by the comic actor, and promotional material from the movies like photographs and lobby posters.
Charles told Nathalie Morris, who oversees the BFI’s collection of filmmaker’s material, that he had been on the set of one of the Pink Panther films and how the actors had to do “18 takes” as the crew broke down in “hysterics” they “all just dissolved into hysteria”.
The prince also met young filmmakers who have trained with the BFI Academy which has sent aspiring camera operators and directors on apprenticeships with Lucasfilm which makes the latest instalments of the Star Wars movies.
After meeting Charles at the reception, Oyelowo said about the help given to young people trying to break into the film industry: “You need support, you need someone to say ‘you’re good enough’, you need someone to say ‘go for it’ and you need someone to actually support you to do it and those are all things I think the BFI recognise and are doing.”