Tom Hiddleston and Zawe Ashton's Sweet Love Story: Newly Engaged Couple Have a 'Lovely Chemistry'

PEOPLE confirmed Thursday that the couple is engaged

Tom Hiddleston and Zawe Ashton
Photo: David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images

Tom Hiddleston and new fiancée Zawe Ashton hit it off quickly.

On Thursday, PEOPLE confirmed that the 41-year-old Loki actor and Ashton, 37, are engaged.

Three years ago, the two played husband and wife in the play Betrayal on Broadway, though they met prior to that when the show was revving up in London before making the leap to New York City. A source close to the production tells PEOPLE that the mostly private couple always had "lovely" chemistry together.

"They were very private publicly, but behind the scenes you could just see a lovely chemistry," the source recalls. "There were twinkles in both of their eyes, and the entire company, including Charlie Cox, were all very close."

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"And being Brits abroad, they would hang out frequently. Zawe and Tom showed great affection for each other, and you could also see that coming off slightly in their onstage performance," adds the source.

Tom Hiddleston and Zawe Ashton
Tom Hiddleston and Zawe Ashton. Stephane Cardinale/Corbis via Getty

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The source says, "Tom has always been a very, very private person. Behind the scenes, they would just privately be affectionate and hugging and sitting next to each other and holding hands."

In Betrayal, Hiddleston starred as Robert, a man whose wife Emma (played by Ashton) is having an affair with his best friend, Jerry (Cox). The story follows the infidelity in reverse, from its aftermath to its beginnings. It opened on Broadway at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre on Sept. 5, 2019, and continued performances until Dec. 8, that year.

The pair confirmed their relationship this past September when they made their red carpet debut as a couple at the Tony Awards, where he was nominated. At the 2022 BAFTA Awards over the weekend, Ashton sported her engagement ring while holding hands with Hiddleston on the red carpet.

Charlie Cox, Zawe Ashton and Tom Hiddleston
Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for Tony Awards Productions

Hiddleston, who previously dated Taylor Swift, explained why he doesn't discuss romantic relationships during a 2017 interview with The Telegraph, saying, "Everyone is entitled to a private life."

"I love what I do and I dedicate myself with absolute commitment to making great art and great entertainment, and in my mind I don't conflict the two. My work is in the public sphere and I have a private life. And those two things are separate."

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