- Simon Garner
Actor of the Week: Tom Hardy
It was only a matter of time before Tom Hardy got picked for our Actor of the Week, as we are huge fans of his at Life of Films. This week felt like the perfect time, given the release of Dunkirk, and his seemingly low-key but highly influential role in it.
Hardy has previous in the World War II genre, having made his debut in the 2001 TV series Band of Brothers. His debut year was a big year for him, as he was cast by Ridley Scott in Black Hawk Down.
He’s gone on to star in films and TV of all genres. A favourite of mine is 2008’s RocknRolla, where he stars as Handsome Bob. RocknRolla is a brilliant film. It’s got action, violence, comedy, the lot. Hardy stars alongside some big personalities in this film, such as Idris Elba, Gerard Butler and Thandie Newton. Having been a Hardy fan for a long time, he’s gone from strength to strength with castings like this, because he has worked with a lot of talent on a regular basis. In turn, it has enabled him to turn his hand to anything and do it well, hence the broad range of genres.
This trend continued when he was cast by LoF-favourite Christopher Nolan in 2010’s Inception. The cast was A-list, with Leonardo DiCaprio and Michael Caine being the heavy hitters, and it was Inception that really got everyone talking about him. I find the term ‘breakthrough role’ is used too loosely, because he was in plenty of sizeable things before, but Inception certainly propelled him to the big levels. From here, everyone wanted a piece of him, and rightfully so!
Sticking with Nolan, he himself has, as he is renowned for doing, cast him more than once since Inception, in The Dark Knight Rises and now, as mentioned above, Dunkirk. In The Dark Knight Rises, he played Bane, a terrorist and a tank of a man! What Hardy did with this character was nothing short of excellent. Firstly, the level of commitment to the role was staggering. He gained 30 pounds in weight to be true to the sheer physicality of Bane, but in a realistic manner. He also studied several fighting styles for his showdown with Christian Bale’s Batman. Secondly, the voice he used was of his own design. Hardy said that he based the voice on a Romani gypsy fighter’s, by the name of Bartley Gorman. It was bold, because Bane’s background is from a fictional Caribbean place called Santa Prisca, and Hardy’s accent doesn't reflect this. The voice raised eyebrows, because, along with the mask Hardy had to wear for the role, it was criticised for being difficult to hear at times. I was actually a big fan of Hardy’s take on the character, as I really felt he made it his own. Christopher Nolan also praised Hardy for how he used his eyes, as it was all you could see of his face. You can read a lot from just his eyes in terms of emotion and emphasis, and this is just another example of his impeccable ability. Check out the scene below for a great example of this.
In 2015, he starred alongside DiCaprio again, in the Oscar-winning The Revenant. He plays John Fitzgerald, ruthless nemesis to Leo's High Glass. They are at odds for pretty much the entire film, and one particular deed drives a final wedge between them, and Glass is thirsty for vengeance as a result. Hardy delivers a brilliant performance here, making Fitzgerald despicable and vile, which, in turn, has us instantly side with Glass. This performance also got him nominated for the Best Actor in a Supporting Role Oscar.
There are plenty of other examples of his diverse back catalogue, such as 2012’s This Means War - a rom-com, in which he starred alongside former Actor of the Week Chris Pine. In 2011’s Warrior, he plays a fighter with hang-ups, who ends up fighting his brother in the final of a big tournament. The finale of this film has brought a tear to my eye on numerous occasions. Hardy also played Heathcliff in a TV mini-series version of Wuthering Heights. The man is a genius, anything he does, he does to an amazing standard. BBC’s Peaky Blinders shouldn't go unmentioned, being very highly rated, and, again, he stars alongside another Nolan favourite in Cillian Murphy.
I can't speak highly enough of Tom Hardy, but hopefully I've had a good enough go. I look forward to anything he has in the pipeline, so thanks Tom, plenty more please!