Tom Hardy: The dark horse rises

4th October 2011 By Rebecca Gillie

It’s been a summer to remember for Tom Hardy. Currently filming The Dark Knight Rises, he is also primed for 2012 with a potentially lucrative mixture of roles including prohibition era gangster Al Capone and dystopian law enforcer Mad Max. With his Hollywood future becoming more and more assured with every passing day and the conclusion of the Batman franchise set for release in 2012, Hardy’s role as chemically enhanced super-villain Bane should surely help cement him as one of Hollywood’s most unlikely leading men. But if you can’t wait until next year to see Tom’s considerable heft heaving around your screen, he’s currently all over your local cinema like a infuriatingly gifted rash. When not schmoozing and crying his way through Tomas Alfredson’s masterful Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy he can presently be found pugilistically fisting many a face in the altogether less subtle Warrior. So, with all of these projects in the actor bag and his stock in Hollywood already sky high, the question remains; just where did it all go so right for London’s very own Edward Thomas Hardy?

Well, never one to shy away from a bit of the old ‘on-screen’, Hardy amorously burst onto the scene a whole ten years ago in Band of Brothers. Fast forward six years and his starring role 2007’s Stuart a Life Backwards earned him a BAFTA Television award nomination for Best Actor. Three years on from that and he wins a BAFTA Rising Star award. A year on from that? He looks poised to take Hollywood by storm, swiftly becoming the most in demand hard-nut type around.

But a barely sentient man’s Jason Statham Hardy is not. Never one to play to type, he is a private school educated, ex-alcohol and crack cocaine addict and (by his own definition) ex-bisexual with a self confessed feminine disposition. His masculinity he argues comes from overcompensating because he’s never felt like ‘one of the boys’. Not known to shy away from a fight however he reportedly started hitting the boys off-screen by taking up arms against the eminently armable (see Devil’s Advocate) Shia LeBeouf on the set of the upcoming The Wettest Country in the World – a fight that I’m sure was about as one sided as Rocky’s Rocky vs. Meat montage (albeit with a less charismatic lump of ham). But it’s this apparently cultivated hard man facade that suited him ideally for his true breakthrough film.

In 2009’s Bronson Hardy gave a heavily praised performance of nuanced menace, great presence and more unconventionally; gratuitously flailing genitals. The film’s focus on a man playing a role that may or may not be contrary to his true nature is something which Hardy evidently took to easily. It was also a role that isn’t your conventional studio fodder, succeeding as it did in the face of silly claims that the film glorified violence.

In a Hollywood producing groomed for glory stars such as LaBeouf and his Michael Bay championed ilk, the introduction to the big leagues of an odd looking British character actor who’s served his time through years of minor productions and supporting roles is encouraging. To put it simply, Tom Hardy is going to be huge.