TOM HARDY – MAD, BAD AND DANGEROUS?

Profile by Graeme Wood
24.05.15

 

 

Tom-Hardy

Those critics and doubters amongst us who had written off a revival of George Millers 1979 cult hit ‘MAD MAX’ have been surprised and taken aback by the movie’s critical and box office success. ‘Mad Max-Fury Road’ opened to rave reviews and has already scored a worldwide $135,185,000 box office gross, there is already talk of sequels rather than a sequel and the film’s lead Tom Hardy has now had his superstar status all but confirmed.

Hardy was initially concerned about taking on the role from the original trilogy’s star Mel Gibson but director Miller felt; “Both those guys have that same animal-like quality. They’re warm and accessible and loveable, but there’s something dangerous about them. No matter how still they are, there’s something powerful going on behind the eyes – like a tiger that can claw you to death”.
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Dangerous is certainly what the film’s co-star Charlize Theron felt about Hardy, reportedly she found him ‘weird’ and ‘scary, feeling so threatened by the actor that she asked to be kept away from him when not shooting scenes together, this fuelled reports of a feud between the two actors. When asked about this Hardy replied; “I think she’s fucking awesome. I think she’s incredible. I think she’s one of the most talented actresses of our generation…. but it’s very interesting, the concept of what danger is, and this has nothing to do with Charlize Theron or Mad Max, actually, but this has to do with life in general. There is a flicker of energy that can come from certain people, whether it’s fear-based or whether it’s contrived, which can unsettle a room. And if somebody mismanages that, or if a trickster is in the driving seat of that particular asset and has no business being in said room, well…but I am no more a threat than a puppy.”

Hardy had become a genuine screen presence in the last decade and had many labels thrown at him – method actor, sex symbol, chameleon, hard man, best actor of his generation and yes dangerous – anything but boring! Born in 1977 and hailing from London’s Hammersmith area Hardy was the only child of the Cambridge educated writer Edward ‘Chips’ Hardy and artist Mother Anne, he grew up in East Sheen and was expelled from Reeds public school (for stealing), he was arrested for joyriding in a stolen Mercedes while in possession of a gun when he was 15, and soon after became an alcoholic and drug addict. At the age of 19 he entered and won C4’s Big Breakfast ‘Fine Me A Supermodel’ competition and briefly had a contract with Models 1. “I grew up around people carriers and cardigans and the deer in Richmond Park, but behind those Laura Ashley curtains there are a lot of demons. East Sheen is a middle-class area, Trumpton or Seasame Street, but there’s trouble if you want it. I would have sold my mother for a rock of crack. I was a shameful suburban statistic”.

Hardy studied at the Drama Centre in central London where he was expelled for being, he’s said “a little shit”, his first on-screen role was in the award-winning HBO/BBC miniseries ‘Band of Brothers’ and he showed promise in his feature film debut in Ridley Scott’s 2001 war thriller ‘Black Hawk Down’ quickly followed by a starring role in ‘Star Trek-Nemesis’. In 2003 he picked up the London Evening Standard Award for Outstanding Newcomer for his performances in “Blood” and “In Arabia We’d All Be Kings”. However, his drug addiction got the better of him and he collapsed in Soho’s Old Compton Street after a crack binge and was admitted into rehab. “I was a very adrenal kid”, he says, “I ran on my feelings, and there was a lot of fear. When I found drinking at 13 – a bit of beer – I felt calm. I thought this must be how everyone else feels, and I wanted more of it”.

He told one interviewer he doesn’t mind taking about his addictions because it’s part of his story and he’s sensible enough to be grateful for how his life has turned out. “People don’t know me yet, so I know they want to hear this stuff. They can hear it once, and then let’s talk about something else. I’ll be done with it. When I’m 40 I’ll be cantankerous and badgery about it. When I’m 50 I’ll slap young interviewers and swear. When I’m 70 I’ll be incorrigible!”

More notable television roles followed with the mini-series Colditz, Sweeney Todd (with Ray Winstone), The Virgin Queen (with Anne-Marie Duff) and Cape Wrath (with DavidMorrisey). In 2007 he starred in the BBC drama, “Stuart, A Life Backwards” and found himself nominated for a BAFTA Best Actor award. Based on the life of Stuart Shorter a homeless man, who suffered from muscular dystrophy and a drug addiction and who had been subjected to years of abuse. The role required something of a physical transformation and it was to become a trademark of Hardy’s “Character transformations started happening to me because I got tired of not being able to get on the floor. There are two types of acting; there’s convincing acting and not convincing. That’s it, right. And so, if you are going to convince people, then put it in the real world”. In 2009 he gained 2½ stone in order to play Britain’s most notorious prisoner, Charles Bronson for the film ‘Bronson’ he had already gained a reputation for being seen as difficult by some but was hailed as a method actor and a chameleon.

On television he went on to star in Martina Cole’s drug and gangsters thriller ‘The Take’ for Sky One and as the doomed romantic hero Heathcliff in ITV’s “Wuthering Heights” it was here he met his wife to be actress Charlotte Riley, who played the role of Cathy in the drama. 2010 saw Hardy being directed by the late Philip Seymour Hoffman in “The Long Red Road” at the Goodman Theatre in Chicago. Hardy was amongst the first to pay homage to Hoffman following his death; “I loved Phil he was my North Star of standards – he was brilliant – funny and full of wisdom and eccentricities and love – he nurtured talent and believed in team. I felt he believed in me in a way that few have ever and took the time and effort to show me the road”.

Director Christopher Nolan then cast Hardy in his thriller ‘Inception’ for which he won a BAFTA Rising Star award. Hardy replaced Michael Fassbender in the 2011 adaptation of “Tinker, Taylor, Soldier, Spy”, and then learnt to cage fight for his next role in ‘Warrior’ for which he found more critical Bane_TomHardyacclaim. He was then cast by Nolan again as Bane in his final Batman film 2012’s ‘The Dark Knight Rises’. Nolan touched on Hardy’s performance in interviews; “He can inhabit a role. He saw the potential of the character right away and brought a wonderful cheeky quality to his performance”
Earlier this year in Steven Knight’s thriller “Locke” Hardy spent the film’s 90 harrowing minutes on-screen as the film’s only visible character talking on phone via Bluetooth in his car. It’s a mesmerising tour-de-force. Hardy also returned to television in the second series of the BBC’s ‘Peaky Blinders’ playing Camden gangster Alfie Solomons with humour and swaggering menace – an uneasy ally for Cillian Murphy’s Brummie hood Tommy Shelby.

Super-hero movies were bound to come calling and Hardy was cast a Rick Flagg in DC’s upcoming “Suicide Squad” movie however, soon after Hardy left the project citing ‘scheduling difficulties’ though it’s been reported that having seen the script he was unhappy that his screen time had been shortened following the roles of Will Smith, Margot Robbie and Jared Lento being filled out and given more screen time. He has since said that he’s still in talks with DC about ‘something awesome’.

Following the success of “Mad Max-Fury Road” Hardy says he’s ‘looking forward’ to working on the follow-ups and he can next be seen on the big screen in October in ‘Legends’, starring alongside Emily Browning, Christopher Eccleston and Tara Fitzgerald. Hardy plays both of the legendary real-life gangster twin brothers Ronnie and Reggie Kray. Written and Directed by LA Confidential LEGEND-Tom-Hardyscreenwriter Brian Helgeland, the film tells the story of the brother’s rise and reign over 1960’s gangland London.

Hardy will also be seen in “The Revenant” directed by Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, starring alongside Leo DiCaprio. Next year he will back on TV in the Ridley Scott produced period drama ‘Taboo’ written by Steven Knight. Hardy stars as adventurer James Keziah Delaney who sets out to build his own shipping empire in the early 1800s. The idea for the drama came from Hardy and his father who took the story to Knight and Scott.

As Hardy himself told Esquire magazine; “I hope you’ll find I’m a reliable team player. But you have to be as open and honest about it as I am, because you will be fucking judged, as I’ve been. But let’s have some fun! Some people will hate you, some people will like you, but then most people are completely indifferent about the fuck of my ideas and why the fuck he’s even being talked to.”

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