Tom Hiddleston has told how he woke up at 4am every day to undertake gruelling SAS training for his latest role in Kong: Skull Island.
The star plays Captain James Conrad, a former British SAS tracker hired by American scientists to help hunt down the legendary giant ape on a mysterious island.
Speaking at the film’s European premiere in London’s Leicester Square on Tuesday, he told the Press Association: “The only reason I chose to take on the physical aspect is because the SAS are so highly regarded for the discipline, so I should try and do something.
“Let’s just be straight: I am nowhere near fit enough to be a professional soldier, I have more respect for their bravery and courage than you can imagine.”
Tom added: “I was trained by a US Navy Seal and I worked with two British Royal Marines and it basically involved getting up at four o’clock in the morning and do all manner of running, jumping, lifting, pulling, pushing and then going and doing a day’s work filming.”
Made more than 80 years after the original King Kong film, Kong takes place at the end of the Vietnam War in 1973.
A team of soldiers on their way home are recruited to join a mission to the little-known island, where creators used a stunning range of special effects to invent terrifyingly enormous animal species, ruled by Kong.
They are joined by antiwar photographer Mason Weaver (played by Brie Larson) and discover missing Second World War soldier Marlow (John C Reilly).
Tom said: “The reason he (the King Kong character) has lasted all this time is he has become an emblem of the power of nature – he is a myth that symbolises there are still parts of nature that are wild and have never been touched by human beings, but sometimes the impact of human beings isn’t a positive one.”
But for director Jordan Vogt-Roberts, Kong, who is revered by islanders but pursued by the military, has a more complex human role to play.
“He represents a basic human feeling of being misunderstood by the world and by others and everybody can relate to that,” he told the Press Association.
“To me I love channelling him towards the idea that there is something greater in the world, something bigger than us that we need to surrender ourselves to, that it’s OK that there is an unknown.”
He added: “The 1933 film was a masterpiece and you would be shocked at the ways the novel effects still hold up.”
Commenting on the use of CGI, Samuel L Jackson, who plays the militant Lieutenant Colonel Packard determined to destroy Kong, said: “The end product looked a lot more exciting than we expected. It was all about the ‘things’ so as long as they looked good we knew it will all be ok.”
The 68-year-old said he enjoyed the camaraderie of working with the faux troops, but admitted that he wasn’t so keen on all the walking and climbing involved when filming on location in the Hawaiian jungle.
Kong: Skull Island is released in UK cinemas on March 9.