Currently one of my favourite stars and one of Britain’s best recent exports, to many this summer’s big Batman sequel ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ may well be the first time they get to know one of Britain’s (and the world for that matter) biggest rising stars Tom Hardy.
For most, Hardy rose to stardom on the back of Christopher Nolan’s ‘Inception’ in 2010 but he started on the road to stardom in a little known role to many in Star Trek: Nemesis back in 2002, as a clone of Jean Luc Picard! Along the way Hardy has put in some great movie and TV performances. His TV work may well be known to a few, but for me this is where some of his best work can be found.
But the biggest thing you will have noticed about Hardy and his recent epic rise, is also his concurrent physical ‘growth’ culminating in what looks to be a juggernaut of a performance as superhuman ‘Bane’ in this summer’s Batman outing.
This metaphor for his ‘rise’ can be traced most specifically back to ‘Bronson’, for me his true breakthrough role, playing Britain’s most notorious prisoner ‘Charles Bronson’; and this is where he first went big!
Actors radically changing their appearance in this way is nothing new, ‘Rises’ co-star Christian Bale went shockingly skinny (really skinny) for ‘The Machinist’ and ‘The Fighter’ and DeNiro went up the weight scale, gaining four stones for his role as Jake LaMotta for ‘Raging Bull’. Hardy hasn’t quite had a role yet that has required this level of potentially damaging short term transformation. Bale must have been nuts!
‘Bane’ and ‘Bronson’ (‘Charles’ probably required the bigger change, given his physicality prior) clearly demanded some gym time though, but an actor so talented and committed as Hardy would surely sacrifice the same again for the love of his craft. So gifted and enthralling an actor as Tom Hardy is will surely mean awards glory one day with his clear screen presence where he has already stole many a show from more seasoned co-stars.
Hardy’s first big role was in ‘Star Trek: Nemesis’ back in 2002, now I watched ‘Nemesis’ at the time but don’t really recall Hardy as villain Shinzon, and many would probably have difficulty recognising him now, but watching it since recently, it’s fair to say that Hardy does a decent job, in what would have been a big role in a massive franchise quite early in his career. Not the greatest of the ‘Treks’ but the series had many far worse villains.
2004’s ‘Layer Cake’ gave Hardy a small role as one of Daniel Craig’s criminal gang members ‘Clarkie’
In 2008 Hardy played ‘handsome Bob’ alongside Gerald Butler in Guy Ritchie’s ‘RocknRolla’. It was a return to form for Ritchie after average entries ‘Revolver’ and the awful ‘Swept Away’. A small part again for Hardy but he was just as hilarious as the film was as part of Butler’s ‘Wild Bunch’, with a secret that comes as quite a surprise to ‘best’ mate Butler.
Again in 2008, Hardy went big for his transformation into Charles ‘Bronson’. A brilliant powerhouse performance, all-consuming as the role would no doubt demand, to play Britain’s most notorious inmate. This was Hardy’s first big solo role, and his central performance is his best work so far.
TV outings in 2009 also demonstrated Hardy’s real acting prowess and growing screen presence. Absolutely terrifying as psycho gangster Freddy in ‘The Take’; it was an intimidating performance in Sky’s four-part mini-series that may have passed some by, well worth a look.
In ITV’s ‘Wuthering Heights’ Hardy was slightly serener, but no less mean as the heartbroken rogue Heathcliff; another great performance that may have been missed by many. Starring also ‘The Walking Dead’s’ Andrew Lincoln.
‘Inception’ in 2010 brought Hardy international acclaim as ‘Eames’, the master forger for DiCaprio’s dream engineer in a truly brilliant film. Hardy along with Joseph Gordon- Levitt stole the show.
Parts in 2011 in ‘Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy’ and ‘Warrior’ (reviewed here) further advanced Hardy’s rising international appeal. A powerhouse performance in ‘Warrior’ as battling sibling Tommy showing the continued growing physical presence of Hardy and some genuine opportunities to show more emotional range alongside the brilliant Nick Nolte in the movies most memorable scenes.
In 2012 comes what will surely be Hardy’s ‘biggest’ role so far as Bane in ‘The Dark Knight Rises’.
To say ‘Rises’ is going to be big is an understatement, following on from the epic ‘The Dark Knight’ (reviewed here) which will star many of the finest actors around, helmed by one of the greatest directors around, about the greatest comic hero – it can’t fail?
Hardy will be even bigger on the back of ‘Rises’ which firmly places him in his first ‘blockbuster’, just how ‘big’ could he get!?