Born: September 15th, 1977
Place: Hammersmith, London, England, UK
Major Awards and Citations: BAFTA Awards (2011): Won the Rising Star Award
British Independent Film Awards (2011): Nominated for Best Supporting Actor for ‘Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy’
British Independent Film Awards (2009): Nominated for Best Actor for ‘Bronson’
Satellite Awards (2011): Nominated for Best Actor for ‘Warrior’
Oscar Snub(s): ‘Bronson’ (2008), and ‘Warrior’ (2011)
Tom Hardy is someone we were always planning to profile in this series (though I’d hoped that he’d score a surprise nomination last year and negate the need to do him…alas), but with 30 Days of Batman beginning to wind to a close (‘The Dark Knight Rises’ is now only days away from release), there’s no time like the present, right? Hardy is an incredibly talented young actor who’s headed for the A-list (I included him in a piece last year on future A-listers, found here), but what’s most interesting about him is the risks he seems willing to take and the various types of characters he’s interested in playing. It’s safe to say that you likely won’t see the man play the same type of role twice. Playing it safe is just not something on his mind, that’s for sure. That being said, Hardy has yet to really introduce himself to mainstream audiences in any big way outside of a supporting turn in a non Batman blockbuster from Christopher Nolan (we’ll get to that in a bit), though obviously playing Bane is going to change all that. Will that be the role that gets him nominated for an Oscar? Will it instead be his other upcoming film ‘Lawless’ that scores a nod for the man? Will he have to wait? All this and more will be addressed below, so let’s get right down to it and go Under the Circuit with Tom Hardy!
I first saw Tom Hardy in 2001 when he had a short run on the HBO miniseries ‘Band of Brothers’ and a small part in ‘Black Hawk Down’. I didn’t actually know that it was “Tom Hardy”, but merely an actor going by that name. He got a bigger part the next year when he took on the villain role in ‘Star Trek: Nemesis’ (2002). It’s not a performance that’s one for the ages, but it’s hardly bad and gave him a small platform to branch out and look into more artistically challenging projects. That obviously was a few years off, namely 2008′s breakthrough performance in ‘Bronson’, but between here and there he certainly did his fair share of work. There were parts in movies like ‘The Reckoning’ (2003), ‘Layer Cake’ (2004), ‘Marie Antoinette’ (2006) in between, but no one was talking about him as the next big thing…at least not yet. That was about to change in 2008.
The combination of a supporting turn in ‘RocknRolla’ and the title role in Nicolas Winding Refn’s ‘Bronson’ (both 2008) announced Hardy as a force to be reckoned with, notably with the latter performance. He disappeared into the role of criminal Michael Peterson, who took on the persona of Charles Bronson and was swallowed up by that violent alter ego. What was supposed to be 7 years in prison turned into 30 due to his behavior, and you can’t take your eyes off of him. I may have some issues with the film itself, but the performance is flawless and one of the best of that year, along with being his best performance to date (and many say of his career). There was a movement to get him an Oscar nomination, but the flick was too small and aside from a handful of precursor citations, Hardy was snubbed almost completely. He certainly deserved all of the acclaim that he received, and even though he didn’t get a nomination, it did open a few doors for the man.
Tom Hardy didn’t just jump on any offer after the acclaim he received for ‘Bronson’, spending 2009 only taking a supporting turn in the film ‘Thick as Thieves’ and a major role in the TV miniseries ‘The Take’. He also took on the lead role in a TV movie version of ‘Wuthering Heights’, so he was working hard, but he hadn’t capitalized on being a hot young actor yet. That was about to change after a call from Christopher Nolan…
‘Inception’ (2010) was the first real blockbuster of Hardy’s career, and while the role of Eames clearly wasn’t the lead role in the film, it was still a nice sized part and gave him a nice forum to showcase his talents. He certainly caught the eye of Nolan, as he didn’t just use him once (as you no doubt know, though I’ll get into that particular film shortly), but he also marked this as his transition from working actor to emerging star. His character was one that provided a few moments of humor, and he was able to show off a screen presence just as intense as in ‘Bronson’, but in a while new way. This as much as anything is what made Hardy a wanted man in Hollywood. Where he went next though shows how Hardy isn’t interested in just taking the best paying jobs or the highest profile ones. He wants to pick the right ones, as we saw in 2011.
Last year Tom Hardy gave two performances that brought on Oscar buzz. The first was the crucial supporting role of Ricki Tarr in ‘Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy’, while the other was a co-lead performance in the sports drama ‘Warrior’ (both 2011). I’m not a huge fan of the former, though I liked him in the movie, but the latter is a mini masterpiece. Hardy was as good as ever (I keep going back and forth as to whether he’s better in ‘Bronson’ or ‘Warrior’, so for now let’s just call them 1 and 1A) portraying former marine turned mixed martial arts contestant Tommy Conlon. The character is like a crazed animal, and Hardy portrays that perfectly. The film itself is amazing (my then early rave review of it can be found here on the site), and Hardy is one of the best things about it. Both ‘Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy’ and ‘Warrior’ wound up with Oscar nominations, but Hardy was snubbed for both, as the precursors mostly focused elsewhere. If nothing else, ‘Warrior’ was a test run for one of his parts this year…I think you know which one.
This year (2012 for those of you who somehow don’t know) started off for Hardy with a bland performance in the dreadful film ‘This Means War’, but in August he’s going to be looking for Oscar buzz again with a big part in the bootlegging film ‘Lawless’. Before that though, he’s playing the insidious Bane in a little movie called ‘The Dark Knight Rises’. The part may not initially seem like as juicy a bad guy role as Heath Ledger got playing The Joker in ‘The Dark Knight’, but if anyone can elevate this part, it’s Tom Hardy. ‘Lawless’ may be a baity role for him, but ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ and Bane will likely be his most memorable one.
So, can Hardy score a nomination this year for ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ or ‘Lawless’? I’d say he’s a bit of a long shot, but both roles have potential. I’d actually say that ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ could be his best play, especially if the film is hailed as being as good as, or better than, ‘The Dark Knight’. My guess is that he ultimately doesn’t get nominated, but it paves the way for him to take on some real strong projects in the coming years…
Going forward, he only has the new Mad Max film (‘Mad Max: Fury Road’ to be precise), as well as an Outlaw Biker project and the film ‘Cicero’ on his upcoming slate. I can’t say much, if anything, about his Oscar prospects there, but I’d say that the film he gets the nod for hasn’t been announced yet. My hypothesis is that he’s about 3 or 4 years away, perhaps with an indie drama, but I’m sure it’ll happen when the time is right.
There you have it, ladies and gents…Bane…I mean Tom Hardy. I now turn it over to you. What’s your favorite Tom Hardy performance? Do you think he’ll wind up getting nominated for ‘The Dark Knight Rises’? Will it actually be for ‘Lawless’? Is this just not his year? The floor is yours, so have at it!
Discuss in the comments!