One of the finest British talents in the last decade, Tom Hardy doesn’t come across as your quintessential Hollywood star, more like the kind of guy you’d love to have a pint with (despite his sobriety obviously). Unlike some actors around, Hardy is famed for his devotion to fulfilling acting, much like his Dark Knight Rises co-star Christian Bale. Hardy’s desire to perfect his physical appearance is certainly admirable, as well as his ability to ease into any kind of role, no matter the difficulty. Despite being around for a long time, many didn’t take notice of Hardy until his faultless performance as Eames in Christopher Nolan’s 2010 sci-fi epic Inception, but even before that, his sheer talent was obvious to many. Earning the coveted BAFTA Rising Star Award in 2010, Hardy has certainly shot to prominence since; and it is not surprising that today he has become one of Hollywood’s most sought-after actors.
Charles Bronson/Michael Peterson in Bronson (2008)
As Britain’s most notorious prisoner, Hardy really came into his own. Piling on the muscle to create Bronson’s muscular appearance, it was the first time the people would notice Hardy’s devotion to acting. Not only did he have to look the part, Hardy had to get inside the mind of a madman in order to perfectly portray Bronson, and Bronson himself was certainly pleased with it, later dubbing Hardy: “Britain’s number 1 actor”. Hardy appeared to ease into the theatricality of the film, superbly directed by Nicolas Winding-Refn, and managed to nail the scenes of heavy violence, spontaneous singing and was frightfully excellent in the infamous ‘hostage scene’. It was definitely the first time I took notice of Hardy, simply because he made me feel like I was watching the real Charles Bronson there and then. His captivating performance truly felt real, and is definitely one of his most accomplished roles.
Eames in Inception (2010)
As Eames in the aforementioned Inception, Hardy seamlessly flowed Britishness through him. Using sarcasm, wit and a slightly camp edge, Hardy become somewhat of a fan-favourite within this film. This role essentially earned that BAFTA Rising Star Award, and it was certainly deserved. Though he didn’t receive a huge degree of screen-time like DiCaprio or Joseph Gordon-Levitt; Hardy managed to make his scenes really count, and left perhaps the longest lasting image for any viewer. His on-screen chemistry with Gordon-Levitt’s Arthur was a highlight of the film, creating comedy and grounding the story to make it less-heavy at times, a trademark of Christopher Nolan. Hardy’s consistent swagger made Eames such a riveting character to watch, and definitely inserted another layer into the film, oozing confidence out at every point; an early sign of the star quality that Hardy possesses. In Inception, Hardy certainly wasn’t afraid to “dream a little bigger darling”, and his performance as Eames certainly skyrocketed his career to all new levels.
Tommy Riordan/Conlon in Warrior (2011)
In this tale of estranged brothers, alcoholic fathers and MMA fighting; Tom Hardy shone alongside Joel Edgerton and Academy Award nominee Nick Nolte as soldier turned fighter Tommy Riordan, who deserts the army and returns to the fighting ring in order to raise funds for the widow of a soldier friend killed in a bombing. Though Nolte deservedly received the most plaudits for his portrayal of Tommy’s father Paddy, an alcoholic trying to reconcile with his two sons, Tommy and Brendan (Edgerton); Hardy’s portrayal of the mentally scarred soldier is truly heartfelt and moving. His on-screen presence was captivating as usual, and his chemistry with Nolte’s Paddy was emotional, as well as his climatic fight scene against Edgerton’s Brendan. As well as fantastic acting, Hardy also devoted his body to the role too, again working extremely hard to pull off Tommy’s muscular, fighter physique. Hardy helps tell a superbly written story, and truly pushes the viewer to their emotional boundaries, another sensational performance, on par with the truly brilliant Nolte.
Bane in The Dark Knight Rises (2012)
This is a role that needs no introduction. United once-again with Christopher Nolan, Hardy stunned viewers across the globe with his terrifyingly brilliant performance as Batman villain, Bane. “Speak of The Devil and he shall appear” says Bane, and quite frankly Hardy was much scarier than The Devil could ever be surely? Hardy certainly stole the show, not quite to the lengths of Heath Ledger, but enough that he overshadowed about everyone else in this film by a mile, even fan-favourite Christian Bale’s Bruce Wayne/Batman. In Bane, Batman not only meets his mental, but also his physical match, with Hardy again showing how he can push himself to the physical limits to achieve a certain physical image, much like his counterpart Bale, which is certainly inspiring. Even Bane’s comedic moments, such as “what a lovely, lovely voice.” are absolutely fantastic to watch, but nobody can forget the moment he conquers Batman and his whole “you think darkness is your ally” scene, because for the first time, the viewer is truly scared for Batman. Certainly my favourite Hardy performance, simply because he owned the whole film, every second he spent on-screen he masterfully controlled, and who can honestly say that he didn’t have a “lovely, lovely voice”?
‘Mad’ Max Rockatansky in Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)
Revisiting a cult film series is hard enough, replacing a cult icon like Mel Gibson’s original ‘Mad Max’ is another story altogether, but he was replaced by Hardy for George Miller’s Mad Max: Fury Road, and well the results speak for themselves. Hardy put his absolute heart and soul into playing Max, a cop turned survivor in the post-apocalyptic setting of the film. Scarred by the loss of his wife and child, Hardy nails Max’s whole ‘man of few words but of action’ mantle. His transition into an action star is seamless, considering the magnitude of this project, and putting everything into the gruelling 6 month shoot in the vast deserts of Namibia has been totally worth it. Hardy encapsulates everything I’ve always loved about Mad Max, the lack of lines, use of eye contact, and of course; his madness. Max’s brutality whilst also seeing visions of those he lost is perfectly translated to screen by Hardy, and I instantly fell in love with Mad Max all over again because of it. Hardy’s on-screen chemistry certainly with Charlize Theron’s Imperator Furiosa as well as his shorter stint with Rosie Huntington-Whiteley’s Splendid is what made Max such a interesting character. All he needed was a look, whether it’s a slight grin or some kind of gesture, Hardy absolutely nails it with ease. As well as the film being a true cinematic achievement, Hardy was very impressive, and has certainly made me even more excited for the following Mad Max sequels.
This video just captures what Max is all about:
Look out for Hardy in 2015/16, with a number of interesting features coming up, such as his portrayal of the famous Kray twins in Legend, as well as starring opposite Leonardo DiCaprio in Alejandro González Iñárritu’s (Birdman) next film, The Revenant.
Honourable Mentions: Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011), Lawless (2012), Locke (2013), Stuart: A Life Backwards (2007) and TV series Peaky Blinders (2014)
Words by Elliott Jones