Does Tom Hiddleston have any idea what he's getting himself into with Taylor Swift?

By Rupert Hawksley

There is a line in The Sun's front-page exclusive, accompanying pictures of Tom Hiddleston and Taylor Swift tottering flirtatiously on some rocks, which says it all, really. "They then kissed," the article reads, "before taking a series of selfies."


No doubt it won't be long before Swift, 26, uploads these selfies to Instagram, where they will be pored over by her 81.7 million followers. Social media is already patting itself on the back after naming the couple "Swiddleston". In response to the photographs, Swift's ex-boyfriend, DJ Calvin Harris, unfollowed her on Twitter. I'd probably LOL or something - if it wasn't all so depressing.

Hiddleston, a first-rate stage and screen actor, with an Olivier Award for his performance in Cymbeline and an Evening Standard Award for his portrayal of Coriolanus, is now tabloid fodder. Never mind that he is in line to be the new James Bond or that the next instalment of the superhero series Thor, in which Hiddleston plays Loki, is out next year - as of now, every interview with the 35-year-old will be about his relationship with Swift.

As her previous boyfriends, including actor Jake Gyllenhaal and One Direction star Harry Styles, have discovered, Swift doesn't "do" discreet. One of her biggest hits, I Knew You Were Trouble (2012), is rumoured to be about singer John Mayer. Forever and Always (2008) - "We almost never speak/ I don't feel welcome anymore/ Baby, what happened, please tell me?" - supposedly charts the breakdown of Swift's relationship with singer Joe Jonas.

Not that any of Swift's exes ever resented the publicity, of course. Harris and Styles, particularly, seem to be on any guest list going and are permanent fixtures in the gossip columns. Both have had a number of high-profile girlfriends and are used to their every move being scrutinised.

Earlier today, Harris deleted a series of tweets about his relationship with Swift, including one he sent on June 2, which read: "The only truth here is that a relationship came to an end and what remains is a huge amount of love and respect." Harris, the world's highest-paid DJ, is savvy enough to know that deleting this tweet would be picked up on. He and Styles are internet stars, burning brightly through the dark matter of social media.

By contrast, Hiddleston's relationship with the internet is cooler. His social media accounts are comprised almost exclusively of tweets about his work or charity projects he is involved with. His Twitter bio reads, simply: "Actor".

All of which begs the question: does Hiddleston, who has always guarded his privacy obsessively, have any idea what he is getting himself into? And if so: what the hell is he thinking?

There have long been rumours about Hiddleston's love life. He was photographed with record producer Jane Arthy at Wimbledon last year and he has been linked with a string of co-stars, including Kat Dennings, Jessica Chastain, Lara Pulver and, most notably, Elizabeth Olsen.

But Hiddleston has always refused to comment on his private life. In a typically restrained interview with GQ in 2013, Hiddleston said: "I understand the curiosity [in my love life]. One day I hope, when there's really something to write home about, then I'll be able to talk."

He is - or was - as inscrutable as Jonathan Pine, the undercover agent he played in recent BBC series The Night Manager. Why? Because Hiddleston has a ferocious work ethic and refuses to allow anything to get in the way of his career - the RADA-trained actor once missed a friend's wedding in order to attend an audition.

His father, James, is a Scottish Presbyterian from a working-class background who had to graft to achieve success. He eventually became the managing director of a biotech firm in Oxford and it was he who insisted on his son attending Eton.

Hiddleston's parents divorced when he was 13. He dealt with this trauma by immersing himself in drama. Hiddleston then attended Cambridge University, where he was spotted by a talent agent during a performance of A Streetcar Named Desire.

"I love the acting community at Cambridge [University]," Hiddleston once said. "It's really quite committed and serious, since the days of Derek Jacobi and Ian McKellen, right through to Emma Thompson and Hugh Laurie [co-star in The Night Manager]."

This love of serious acting remains undimmed. The idea that his private life should overshadow his professional achievements would distress him. That, though, is the reality that now faces Hiddleston.

This very public display of affection - the beach where "Swiddleston" were photographed is just minutes from the privacy of Swift's Rhode Island mansion - is so out of character. If it was choreographed, what was the motive?

Or perhaps I should just stop being so cynical. Was this, in fact, simply a case of love making people do strange things? Maybe. But if so, Taylor Swift's new boyfriend should be ready for things to get a whole lot stranger in the coming weeks.

- Daily Telegraph UK

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