People In Film | Tom Hardy

Tom Hardy | A Hero Among his Heroes

Tom Hardy as Ricki Tarr in TINKER, TAILOR, SOLDIER, SPY

For fast-rising British actor Tom Hardy, the opportunity to appear in director Tomas Alfredson's TINKER, TAILOR, SOLDIER, SPY came out of the blue, when Michael Fassbender (who played Mr. Rochester in JANE EYRE) had to withdraw from the production at short notice. Hardy jumped at the chance to play the rogue agent Ricki Tarr in the big screen adaptation of John Le Carré's classic spy novel and join an illustrious cast lead by Hardy's great acting hero, Gary Oldman. “If it had been a shopping list I'd have been in there!” Hardy joked. “It just so happened to be an extraordinary piece of modern literature that's been turned into a fantastic script with a director who contains such a wealth of knowledge and understanding of his world and what he wants to create. ...The only trouble I had through any of it was sitting opposite Gary Oldman and trying to not watch him while I was trying to do my work because I was fascinated by him doing his.” But Hardy, at this point, can stand by his own performances. As Oliver Lyttelton, reviewing for indieWIRE’s The Playlist, notes of Hardy in TTSS, “We’re virtually past the point of having to say that Tom Hardy is brilliant in a film, but brilliant he is, and once more showing new strings to his bow; soft and vulnerable, deeply wounded by being shut out by his employers.”

Tom Hardy | Internal Demons

Tom Hardy in BAND OF BROTHERS, and as Shinzon in STAR TREK: NEMESIS

To some extent, Hardy’s talent for capturing characters struggling with internal demons comes from his own real-life experiences. At 13, Hardy turned to drugs and alcohol, an affliction that continued even as he was getting a foothold in the entertainment industry. At 19, he started modeling after winning The Big Breakfast’s Find Me a Supermodel competition. Soon he turned to drama, attending the Richmond College for the Performing Arts, then London’s Drama Centre (where he befriended another young actor, Michael Fassbender).  But early on, producers started noticing him. He dropped out of the Drama Centre after getting cast in HBO’s BAND OF BROTHERS. He soon picked up film work in BLACK HAWK DOWN, and as Praetor Shinzon, the evil clone of Captain Jean-Luc Picard in STAR TREK: NEMESIS. After getting clean and sober in his early 20s, Hardy made acting his main focus. As he told London’s The Telegraph, “I wanted my dad to be proud of me, and I fell into acting because there wasn’t anything else I could do, and in it I found a discipline that I wanted to keep coming back to, that I love and I learn about every day.”

Tom Hardy | Changing Mind and Body

In STUART: A LIFE BACKWARDS (2007); in BRONSON (2009).

Through the 2000s, Hardy took on roles that showcased both his emotional investment in acting and his willingness to radically transform himself to fit the role. Indeed, two of his most notable performances were playing utterly opposite real-life personalities. In 2007, he withered to nothing to play the Stuart Shorter, an emotionally and physically disabled homeless man in David Atwood’s award-winning TV movie STUART: A LIFE BACKWARDS. His powerful portrayal of a man tortured by physical limitations and childhood abuse earned him a Best Actor nomination at the BAFTA TV awards. Alexander Masters, who wrote the book on which the film was based, was amazed by Hardy’s transformative talent. “It took me a long time to get the tone of the TV production right, to get the right balance between the pathos and the humour. But Tom has managed to capture the complexity beautifully,” Masters told The Times. A few years later, Hardy was cast by the Danish director Nicolas Winding Refn for the title role in BRONSON, a biopic based on the career criminal and bare-knuckle boxer once dubbed the “most violent prisoner in Britain.”  For this role, he grew a moustache, shaved his head and put on 40 pounds of muscle. But it was not simple physical transformation that won critics' hearts. Declaring Hardy's portrayal of Bronson “remarkable,” the Chicago Tribune's Michael Philipps wrote, “This is an actor with a memorably expressive rasp of a voice, both blunt and musical. He knows how to work a close-up and perform in an arena of heightened realism, as well as purely artificial theatricality. The movie is very nearly a solo performance piece — “In the Belly of the Beast,” starring a saber-toothed tiger.”

Tom Hardy | "Today is a Good Day"

Tom Hardy in INCEPTION

Tom Hardy told Moviefone, “Bronson has been like a calling card here in the States.” And people who saw the film paid attention. In casting INCEPTION, Christopher Nolan immediately recognized Hardy’s talent and reach, telling The Guardian, “He can inhabit a role. He saw the potential of the character right away and brought a wonderful cheeky quality to his performance." He won further acclaim as an Iraq War veteran who becomes an MMA fighter in the Rocky-esque drama WARRIOR. Having shared the screen with Gary Oldman in TINKER, TAILOR, SOLDIER, SPY, Hardy will soon be seen reteaming with his acting hero in two subsequent films: Christopher Nolan's hotly anticipated THE DARK KNIGHT RISES (in which Hardy plays the muscular baddie Bane), and THE WETTEST COUNTY IN THE WORLD. Also in the pipeline for the extremely busy Hardy are roles as Al Capone in a biopic of the legendary gangster, and the title role in long-gestating fourth film in the MAD MAX franchise. Despite his recent giddy ascent, Hardy is keeping his feet firmly on the ground: “It's a good year, it's a good day, and it will inevitably end in some sort of crash at some point, won't it?” he said, smilingly, in a 2011 interview. “Careers oscillate, everybody breathes in and out, so I'm sure I'll flop at some point. But today is a good day.”

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