THE NEW AL CAPONE: studying how to make a great gangster film, shot by shot
Tom Hardy has been down in the vaults at Warner Bros, watching the studio’s classic gangster movies to get some Al Capone ‘into the bloodstream’. Hardy told me he will play the Depression-era Chicago crime tsar sometime next year and well into 2014, once he has completed work on a series of movies including the lead role in the new Mad Max, which begins shooting in Namibia this April with Charlize Theron and Nicholas Hoult.
‘I’ve been working with Warner Bros, watching their gangster films — the ones with James Cagney, Humphrey Bogart and Edward G. Robinson,’ he told me, citing The Petrified Forest with Bogart, The Public Enemy with Cagney, and Little Caesar with Robinson. ‘It’s interesting to get them, and a bit of Capone, into the bloodstream.
‘You look at pugnacious James Cagney in The Public Enemy and see how this guy rises up to become a kingpin in Chicago,’ Hardy said when we chatted during a reception at the British Film Institute.
The actor added that he’d watched a wide range of Warner Bros ‘social issue’ films, as they were called.
He’d also watched The Roaring Twenties, which starred Cagney and Bogart, and many other pictures that encompassed the Depression/Prohibition era when studios, particularly Warner Bros ripped stories right out of newspaper headlines and turned them into films that are still watchable today. ‘The idea isn’t to remake those films but to get a flavour of them as we explore Capone’s career as a racketeer. The idea at the moment is of doing a trilogy of films, but nothing is set. Everyone is just talking and exploring,’ said Hardy, whose career has rocked in everything from Matthew Vaughn’s Layer Cake to Nicolas Winding Refn’s Bronson and Chris Nolan’s Inception.
He’s also mega-hot in the under-rated Gavin O’Connor family fight drama Warrior. And he was part of last year’s classiest ensemble in Tomas Alfredson’s Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (which deserves recognition from Oscar and Bafta voters).
I can’t wait to see him alongside Christian Bale and Gary Oldman (so brilliant as Smiley in TTSS) in the new Batman film, The Dark Knight Rises. (Hardy plays the Caped Crusader’s arch enemy, Bane.)
The Capone project is called Cicero. David Yates, who directed four of the later Harry Potter movies, has been re-working Walon Green’s original screenplay.
After Hardy has shot the Mad Max picture he wants to work with his father, Chips Hardy, on a theatre project in London, which he will fund. ‘I’d like to hire a theatre for a week and give the tickets away,’ the actor told me.