Meeting Tom Hiddleston + Watching Avengers: Endgame

Assalamualaikum wbt.

Wow. I haven’t updated for more than a year. I hope this will be the beginning of me making a proper comeback to the blogging world. The most important changes in my life: I graduated from UiTM with a Diploma in Communication and Media, spent one semester in UiTM Shah Alam doing an Advertising degree but dropped out to pursue my Bachelor’s degree at Newcastle University, United Kingdom. So much has happened since then. Alhamdulillah. I might do a recap of January 2018 to May 2019 soon. But for this post I will focus on what happened exactly one month ago on 25th April 2019: meeting Tom Hiddleston (yes, really, yes, the one who plays Loki) and watching Avengers: Endgame!

You might think the two are related – like, I must have met him at an Endgame event or something. But no, I just wanted to have a super eventful trip to London. HAHA.

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I’ve been a pretty huge fan of the Marvel Cinematic Universe since getting dragged to watch the first Avengers movie in 2012. Here’s my post about Age of Ultron from 2015. I can clearly differentiate between the characters and the actors. I love so many of them, but my number one favourite actor has always been Tom Hiddleston. It’s hard to describe why, but I have to boil it down to: his charisma, extreme politeness, humility and intelligence. He speaks with substance, is extremely humble, loves books, and respects women. If you guys know any single men like him in real life please DM me, thanks. Haha.

Anyway, I came to the UK on 17th September 2018. On my 39th day in Newcastle I thought it would be funny to post an Instagram story with the words ‘Day #39 in the UK and I still haven’t met Tom Hiddleston *wailing emoji*’ – because, so close yet so far! I also figured it would be a humorous way to keep track of how long I’ve been in the UK, and like… what if I actually DO meet him?

betrayal

It was late 2018 when it was announced that he would be starring in a play called Betrayal in London for 12 weeks. I debated with myself for quite a long time deciding whether to go or not. Part of it was because I was hoping for some other announcement of him making an appearance at an Avengers-related event that I could attend, as it isn’t exactly a piece of cake planning and executing a trip to London. On his birthday (9th February), I finally gave in. If not now, WHEN?! I bought a ticket (the cheapest one) for the 25th of April, 2:30pm, a day before Endgame’s scheduled release in the UK, and during my month-long Easter break. It’s really fortunate that I had the opportunity to choose from a wide variety of dates instead of it being a one-off event like Comic-Con. But mind you, when I bought the tickets I had no idea that he would be meeting and greeting fans after almost every show. I really thought that I would just go to enjoy the play and wouldn’t even have evidence of seeing him in front of my eyes because you can’t take photos/videos in a theatre.

From that moment I increased my ‘Day #__ in the UK and I still haven’t met Tom Hiddleston’ posts but never directly mentioning that I had bought tickets for the play. I was so anxious – ‘What if the bus I’m riding gets into an accident? What if I get extremely sick and can’t make it to the play? What if I DO make it to the play but Tom gets into an accident or gets extremely sick and is replaced with a different actor?’.

The play period started during early March and it turns out Tom, Charlie Cox and Zawe Ashton were meeting fans at the stage door after almost every performance except for a few times when they were sick or had other commitments. I was over the moon – obviously. I was asking people things like, ‘How do you NOT shake when taking a selfie with a celebrity?’ and ‘IF I were to meet Tom, what should I say to him?’ (a few replied ‘ask if Loki is really dead’ lol). But it was seriously nice of them to do that 8 times a week for 12- now 13 weeks because the play got extended! Stage door is not compulsory at all because the audience pays to watch the play, not meet and greet sessions with the actors, but the three of them are kind enough to do so (see price comparisons to Comic Con at the bottom of this post).

And then the Avengers: Endgame trailer came out and tickets went on sale. They also shifted the UK release date to the 25th instead of the 26th. Endgame would be released on the exact same date I was watching Betrayal. I’d be lying if I wasn’t alarmed, because I was scared that because it was Avengers, Tom would be doing press or something instead of acting in Betrayal. Or that there would be journalists and reporters crowding the stage door, other than theatre-goers.

Scared that I wouldn’t be able to meet Tom after I watched the play, I decided to pay him a visit (HAHA sounds like I just went knocking on his front door and waited for him to serve me lunch). I would be in London for a very short while because I needed to catch a flight to Warsaw, Poland on the 10th and there were no flights to Warsaw from Newcastle. So on the 9th of April, my 205th day in the UK, I arrived in London at around 5pm after an 8-hour bus ride from Newcastle. After dropping my bags off at my friend Iyliana’s house, I went off to the Harold Pinter Theatre, heart beating rapidly in my chest, to catch Tom meeting fans after the evening show. Made a friend from Germany and we kept each other entertained, talking about Marvel and stuff, while we waited on the other side of the road for almost 50 minutes. Usually it doesn’t take that long (I heard you only wait 10-30 minutes, but I guess maybe he had something to attend to). Charlie and Zawe came out earlier, though! Later I would find out that Anthony Russo attended the play that night, so Tom was probably having tea or whatever with him.

The wait was intense because we were directly facing the stage door and could vaguely see the figures of every person that came out (and there was a lot of people coming out… from ushers to bodyguards to caterers). I braced myself and recorded a lot of videos only just to find out the person coming out wasn’t him *facepalm*. It was also really dark under nothing but the streetlights, and there were a looooot of people. We got to see his dog Bobby though! And when he finally came out, wow it was unbelievable. Imagine those slow motion scenes in the movies, DUP DAP DUP DAP.

Tom Hiddleston was a living, walking, super tall and super lean human being just across the road from us! We were breathing the same air as him. Some guys walking behind us were like, ‘Wait is that Tom Hiddleston?!’. It was hilarious. We could hear his voice but were unfortunately too far to make out anything he was saying to the fans. He spent about 10 minutes saying hello and taking pictures with fans before time was up. I also shouted goodnight to Charlie and Zawe.

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How happily I slept that night. HAHHAHAHA. Plus, it’s not easy to see international actors! I mean, any Malaysian with enough money can say they’ve been to an Ed Sheeran concert but actors are a whole other level. It wasn’t a surprise for me that Anthony Russo was at the play, all the way from the United States, because the next day was the Avengers: Endgame Fan Event in London featuring Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Paul Rudd, and the Russo brothers (people were randomly selected to attend). So technically I was breathing the same air as them too 😛 Unfortunately I had a flight to catch. However, I still didn’t consider it ‘meeting’ Tom Hiddleston, just ‘seeing’ him, as we didn’t get to speak. But dude, if I lived in London I could catch him doing stage door eight times a week if I wanted to. Hahahaha.

Anyway, the 25th of April came, and I was back in London. I was watching the first screening of Endgame in the UK with my friend Izzatul. The film was a brilliantly powerful conclusion to an 11-year journey. Three hours have never felt so short. What made the experience even more special is that I watched it with an amazing crowd wearing their Marvel hoodies, who cheered and cried in all the right moments – we were literally on the edge of our seats throughout the whole movie. Part of the journey is the end, and it’s been an incredible journey. For my full 2500-word review (NOT spoiler-free, obviously), you may view my Instagram highlights under ‘ENDGAME’ (I used both English and Malay, though). One month later, I’m still not over it. In fact, I’m currently writing a research proposal for my final year dissertation investigating how social media played a part in building hype for Avengers: Endgame, because I can.

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Picture taken at ODEON Luxe Leicester Square the next day because the cinema I actually went to (Vue Islington) didn’t have an Avengers stand-up thing that they always have in Malaysia. By the way, my hoodie says ‘I am burdened with glorious purpose’, a quote from Loki in Avengers (2012). I bought it from Risa Rodil – whose artwork is SUPERB, by the way.

Slept at 5AM that night but still managed to get up at 8AM somehow. I was too excited for Betrayal that I ended up in Piccadilly Circus like, three hours too early. I killed time by walking around the place until around 1:30PM when I went to the Harold Pinter Theatre. I’ve only ever been to one play in London before – The Lion King last December. It was out of this world, by the way. The Harold Pinter Theatre was way smaller.

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Suddenly I was glad that I was a student with a limited budget because the cheap seat I bought was at the very back, at the very end of the row, and right next to an exit. If I had unlimited money, obviously I’d choose a seat at the front and in the middle, but that would make it hard to get out to join the queue for stage door. I also thought a ‘restricted view’ seat would be much worse but it was honestly fine to watch the play! The pillar didn’t even block my view that much.

However I was honestly ‘redha’ (accepting) if it were fated that I wouldn’t get to meet Tom after the play. I didn’t want to put my hopes up too high to avoid severe disappointment.

betrayal2

And so I watched the play. I was thrilled to see Tom, Charlie and Zawe performing live on stage. Their acting was spectacular and really conveyed the emotional complexities of a love triangle. The set was very, very simple and minimalist – most of the time it was just a white background with a couple of chairs. The play focused on the quality of acting and presence of the characters, unlike The Lion King which puts heavy emphasis on costume design and musical numbers. They also play with silence a lot – many meaningful pauses where the audience is supposed to ‘fill in the blanks’. Tom’s eyes actually welled up with tears at one point and I think it’s amazing how he can do that eight times a week. Also, his legs are unbelievably long. Here’s a video of Robert Downey Jr comparing his legs to Tom’s haha.

However honestly I think that Betrayal is a play meant for an audience who appreciates certain kinds of things, and not for the general public. Basically what I’m trying to say is: I think that if it was adapted into a movie, you could use A-list stars like Angelina Jolie but it still might end up being a flop. I could be wrong, though. (Update: I just found out the film adaptation from 1983 has a good Rotten Tomatoes score). I also think it’s hard to understand completely the first time you watch it, because the first scene starts from the present and gradually goes further back in time with every scene. If I had the money, I would watch it a second or third time, just to make sense of the plot more (and because of Tom, of course). Maybe my far distance from the stage also affected the experience because I wasn’t able to pick up certain things. I do think it can be a very beautifully emotional play though, when enjoyed properly.

I was so annoyed because I saw a few people a) taking photos in the theatre, and b) leaving hurriedly even before curtain call just to be at the front of the line for stage door. Can you really consider yourself a Tom fan if you can’t even show basic respect for him and his work? Some of them literally just wanted a picture with him. You can tell the difference when someone is a genuine fan of a celebrity who truly admires their work and their personality, and when they don’t even bother greeting or making eye contact with that celebrity properly – all they want is a selfie to show off to their friends.

But anyway, we are coming to the peak of this article. I was lucky enough to be at the front part of the line. I didn’t have a good experience with the security and it ruined my mood for a bit, but never mind, I’ll send them an official complaint. Charlie came out first. I’m so sorry to say I’ve never seen any of his film/TV work, not even Daredevil. So I just told him he was hilarious in the play and he grinned and thanked me. He has the sweetest smile! I feel like English can’t express my words properly so I’m gonna say it in Malay – senyuman dia sangatlah manis. I might just watch Daredevil from now on. I feel bad for him and Zawe because I’m pretty sure like 90% of the people in the queues everyday are mostly waiting for Tom.

Tom came out shortly after, at around 4:30PM. I was sooooo glad he WASN’T doing Avengers interviews after all and that there were no annoying reporters swarming the place. HAHAHAH. Usually he waits at the beginning of the line and fans go up to him (which allows more individual time with a single fan, which is great for those who get to meet him but obviously terrible for those who don’t get the opportunity). But after a few people he decided to move down the queue like Charlie and Zawe always do.

[ENDGAME SPOILERS AHEAD]

I panicked immediately because I was not expecting that. He was moving through the queue so fast! I was too scared to take a video, afraid that my phone would malfunction or something when I got to him. Instead of waiting another 3-4 minutes I probably had like less than a minute until he reached me. Good thing I had already planned what to say. It was so surreal seeing him right in front of me. Plus, he is 36cm taller than I am. He began to get closer and closer and I was like, “my goodness, he really IS real” with freckles on his arms and everything. It was so different than looking at him on stage from a distance, or in the dark, like the other day. And definitely a world away from seeing him on a phone screen.

When he finally did come up to me, I said, “I loved you in Endgame”. Didn’t say more than that because I was afraid he hadn’t watched Endgame yet (Marvel actors literally get different scripts – the secrecy of the plot is THAT high). I must’ve not gotten my words out clearly enough (NERVOUSSSS LOL) because he asked, “What was that?” before taking my phone and posing for the selfie. He took two pictures – how smart! I repeated my statement, and he grinned and said, with that tone all Brits use when they’re being sarcastic, “I didn’t know I /was/ in Endgame”. God, how true though. He only had like, what, one minute? Yet he managed to make fun of Cap, mockingly wave at Hulk, AND steal the Tesseract before disappearing. I then laughed and said “Thank you!” before he moved on to the next person.

tom baby

I left the area and crossed the road. And when I saw a video somebody took of me, I was apparently grinning like an idiot. Sigh. I think he spent a lot longer with the fans on that day though! The crowd was also bigger than the one on the night of the 9th. I was planning to ask him if he liked my Loki hoodie, but didn’t get the chance. I think Zawe came out late, so I didn’t get a photo with her either.

So when people discussed Loki with me over the next few days I would say, “I know right?! Tom himself joked to me that he didn’t know he was in Endgame” as if I was his close friend or something HAHHAHAHAH. I cannot wait to watch the Loki series and see him get up to more mischief!

I was also actually hoping for a normal picture with Tom (not a selfie), but the circumstance of him moving down the queue made my plan difficult to execute. The lighting in the selfie is a bit weird as you can see it looks almost Photoshopped. Unfortunately I have quite a reputation for being a Photoshop wiz (even went viral once for Photoshopping a ‘UiTM graduation’ photo shoot in Newcastle). Even the candid photos I took look like I could’ve stolen them from anyone on the internet. Sigh. I was pretty much LOKI. Nobody believed it when he actually died because he’s fake died so many times before. I could tell some of my friends didn’t 100% believe I met him even though I am a sweet innocent girl who would never lie about something huge like that. Zzzz.

For days I was digging through the depths of Twitter and Instagram for a photo, video – ANY sort of proof that I had truly met and spoke to Tom, but failed to find any. Did none of the dozens of people recording with their phones that day manage to tape me and upload it on the web? It was also becoming increasingly hard to find Betrayal content because of the Endgame hype. Tom Hiddleston tags were becoming flooded with Loki/Avengers posts and not so many Betrayal posts. And you know on Instagram people will tag #tomhiddleston #chrishemsworth #robertdowneyjr #chrisevans #scarlettjohansson #markruffalo #jeremyrenner even though said actors are not even IN the picture they’re posting *rolls eyes*

Luckily, on the seventh day, I was lucky enough to be randomly scrolling through my Twitter timeline when I saw it. This glorious, glorious video. Look how ecstatic I am! I was sooooo excited and happy to find it that I called Shasha up immediately.

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That shut the mouths of all the doubters. Wow, I really spent less than ten seconds with him. It was lovely though. Really. One month later and I’m still having a hard time believing it. I would like to give my eternal thanks Instagram user @maryloumendivil for recording/posting the video and Twitter user @maryxglz for sharing it. I also smile at my phone ten times a day knowing that Tom Freaking Hiddleston held it in his hand.

Anyway, I looked up the prices for photo ops at ACE Comic Con Arizona 2019.

General Admission
3 Day Weekend – $125 (£98)
Friday – $65 (£51)
Saturday – $75 (£59)
Sunday – $75 (£59)

Tom Hiddleston
VIP – $645 (£508): Package includes 3 day badge as well as 1 photo op, 1 autograph, and guaranteed seating to the panel.
Photo Op – $220 (£173)
Autograph – $225 (£177)

Charlie Cox
VIP – $330 (£260): Package includes 3 day badge as well as 1 photo op, 1 autograph, and guaranteed seating to the panel (£260)
Photo Op: Solo – $85 (£67)
Autograph – $65 (£51)

I paid only £40 and got to take photos/interact with Tom and Charlie. If I were to do that at ACE Comic Con Arizona 2019 (and without the pleasure of watching them perform live), it would’ve cost AT LEAST £305. Which is absolutely INSANE. God. I could go travelling around Europe with that kind of money.

But okay, to be fair, that’s for a convention in the US. Let’s do a comparison with something more local: a pass to meet Sebastian Stan (Bucky Barnes / The Winter Soldier) at MCM Comic Con London 2019 cost £179 (NOT including admission tickets for £20 – which would total up to £199). Tom is a bigger star than Sebastian, so, you do the math – and that’s not even including Charlie. £40 was a small price indeed to pay and I’m happy. I am counting my blessings here.

In conclusion, I love stanning an unproblematic, lovely, smart, humble and well-mannered king. People say you should never meet your heroes, but Tom is known worldwide for playing one of the most spectacular villains in all of fiction, so it turned out alright 😛 Fantastic, actually.

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arifahbadli

Creating contentment.

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