From the production notes for The Dark Knight Rises - all the Tom Hardy bits:

Tom Hardy—who dons body armor and a bulky breathing mask as the menacing villain Bane—recalls precisely that moment.  It happened in the midst of a massive crowd scene on Wall Street in Manhattan, during a fight sequence between their two characters.  “It was the first time I ever heard Christian say he was tired,” Hardy remembers.  “I was watching him for however many months getting beaten up and wet and cold, and he never said anything.  Inside, I was dying, but I was thinking, ‘This can’t bother me because he’s not bothered.’  But on Wall Street, he just turned and said, ‘You know what?  I’m exhausted.’  I said, ‘Me too.’”
“We stopped the fight and started hugging each other,” Bale adds.   


Tom Hardy agrees, noting, “The thing about Chris is that he creates such a safe place to work, but it’s also challenging because this is a guy who flips trucks for real.  So, you never know what you’re going to be asked to do.  There are all kinds of pressures involved in a movie like this.  It’s like test-flying a brand new aircraft for the military.  There’s pressure that you’re going to crash it.  But at the end of the day, if I opted out of the pressure then I wouldn’t be doing my job.”

Hardy plays Bane, the film’s destructive villain who presents a real threat to Gotham City and to Batman. “Bane is a serious piece of kit,” Hardy describes. “He’s not there to joke. He’s come to do business and there’s no frivolity or messing around. It’s very blunt and militant, very aggressive from the start.”

Nolan agrees, calling Bane “extremely efficient. He’s driven by a very specific set of actions and plans. Nothing is wasted. He’s much more of a physical adversary. In the first two films, we’d never presented Batman with a physical challenge, somebody who would literally stand toe-to-toe with him and battle in a physical sense. That’s an important part of who Batman is.  He’s trained in fighting. He has honed his body. He’s an incredibly physical hero. So, we really wanted him for the first time in our movies to meet his match in somebody who’s truly a monstrous figure.”

After working with the director on Inception, Hardy leapt at the chance to do another film with Nolan and signed onto The Dark Knight Rises without even reading the script. “Chris actually called me on the phone and said, ‘Tom, there’s a character you might be quite good for but I’m not sure if it’s something you’d be interested in because it’s going to demand you to wear a mask, and I appreciate that as an actor you probably wouldn’t want to wear a mask for six months,’” the actor recalls. “He couldn’t tell me anything about the character, just that he had a mask and he was a bad, very bad guy. And I said, ‘Let me get this straight. You want me to come away and work with you around the world and I have the use of an entire stunt team and as many weapons as I want for six months and all I have to do is wear a mask?’ He was like, ‘Yeah, pretty much.’ So, I said, ‘I’m in.  Absolutely,’” Hardy laughs.  

The actor sees the mask as an indelible part of Bane’s identity. “If you look at mask work over history, they all have their own character,” he says. “Each mask is built specifically to draw out a specific character in Italian theater and whatnot. So, actually, a lot of the work is done by being camouflaged. You’re not self-conscious.”

That camouflage came in handy for some of Hardy’s more intense stunts. “I was on a walkway, holding onto the side of a building and very delicately walking out onto a platform about sixty feet high,” he remembers with a wry smile. “I wasn’t very manly, or masculine without the mask.” 

“Bane is a phenomenally strong-minded character,” Bale adds. “So, you’ve got to be bold, and you’ve got a bold actor right here. Tom goes the distance. I mean, he goes way beyond what most other actors would do. He’s created a phenomenal villain.”



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