Here’s the Finnish interview again, now making PERFECT sense thanks to rohkeutta! Like I said, it’s an interesting interview, I love the way he talks about Help for Heroes and how he talks at length about acting, only to dismiss it as a bit trivial. Tom Hardy being Tom Hardy, in other words:
Tom Hardy’s star in the entertainment world is on the upswing. In summer, the man played Bane in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises, but it was only the beginning.
Tom Hardy arrives at the interview table. Today he has a big beard. ”It’s for Mad Max,” says the actor.
He plays the lead role in the fourth Mad Max movie, which premieres in 2013. It is also the 35-year-old Brit’s first lead in a really big movie. Hardy’s career development has been quick. Only a few had even heard of him four years ago. This year, Hardy has been seen on the big screen as much as three times - each time in a very different style and a different kind of the movie.
The biggest of his films (this year) is TDKR, in which Hardy plays Bane, the ruthless muscle man hiding behind a breathing mask. He imitated the strong accent of the bad guy from Sean Connery. In the spring he appeared in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy in the role of the British spy, the betrayed Ricky Tarr - who was skinny compared to Bane.
Now on the big screen is Lawless. It is a fact-based and functional crime story in the late 1920s, during Prohibition when the Bondurant brothers produced moonshine. What is common to these roles is a certain type of toughness.
“Have you ever been in the same room with a dangerous animal?” Hardy asks. ”This what I’m aiming for. That’s what I need. I want to be a beast, like my acting idols.”
Predatory means spontaneity. When looking more closely, the best Hardy-roles are as cornered animals. Utterly evil Bane, of course, but also the trapped Tarr and Forrest Bondurant, who turns from peaceful to rabid in seconds. It is no wonder that Hardy’s idols are familiar with such roles, where there’s an internal conflict. ”Gary Oldman, Robert de Niro and Sean Penn,” he lists as his heroes.
Many viewers first noticed Hardy in the role of the Dark Knight director Chris Nolan’s previous film Inception as the chameleon Eames. Star Trek fans may remember him from several years ago in Nemesis, in the film’s villain role. Considered to be a breakthrough, however, is his role in Drive director Nicolas Winding Refn’s almost surreal Bronson. In the UK Bronson was a minor hit. It told the story of the real-life criminal Michael Peterson, freely exaggerating, sometimes in an utterly crazy way.
How do you make very exaggerated characters like Bane and Michael Peterson believable?
“You just have to rely on your own bullshit-meter,” Hardy says. ”Every day on the street you see guys like that and you wonder what the heck is that guy doing. If you act exactly the same way on stage or in front of the camera, the director will protest that, come on, people don’t act like that. The only risk for an actor is that it seems silly,” Hardy says.
”Just look at the fashion world, or the film business. Weird kids. So where can you draw the line? Peacocks, wild animals, nutters. You observe and imitate. The Bullshit Meter tells you where that line goes.”
Especially bad guys are a balancing act.
“A movie role is always artificial. Some of the audience believes your character, some do not. On the other hand for example, the real criminals are often exceptional individuals, strange types. This enables you to go a long way. Questions can be addressed. Even if there are no answers. The work is in the gray area. That’s it.” Hardy laughs. ”This is just acting, we’re not fucking saving the world.”
Lawless was made outside of the Hollywood system. The script was written by Nick Cave. The director is John Hillcoat who is also know for the films The Road and The Proposition. The investors want to put their dollars in superhero movies. ”Making Lawless was more difficult,” Hardy says.
Although the movie has a lot of violent action, like when the Bondurants clash with Gary Oldman’s gang of gangsters and the sadistic henchman of the police played by Guy Pearce, it’s closer to realism than to Hollywood fairytales. Even the ending is unpredictable. Hardy is Forrest Bondurant, the toughest of the brothers. The character may be the harshest guy of all time to almost always wears a cardigan.
Jack Bondurant, the film’s actual protagonist is played by Shia LaBeouf. ”Shia is growing all the time as an actor. He’s breaking his own cage. He will be a man. He is 23, something like that, ten years younger than me,” Hardy says.
Compared to Shia, Hardy is like a block of muscle. But the thug himself doesn’t believe in physical strength. ”I think we’re ready for a new kind of masculinity. It is not machismo, or negligence. Caution is risk aversion. Courage is born out of fear,” Hardy says.
The actor himself is wearing a t-shirt promoting a Combat Stress organization. They raise money for mental health care for the British war veterans. “A lot of my friends are in the army. I don’t take a stance on why people fight, but I want to support the troops.” the actor says, when asked about his shirt. ”I don’t want to turn my back, even though I get paid to do so much lighter work, to pretend that I’m someone else.”
Supporting the soldiers might be taken as supporting the unpopular wars Britain has gotten into with the U.S. That is not the case. ”This is completely personal, not political. My friends have been killed at the front.” Hardy sighs.
Hardy himself is a film fan - a former one. ”I love films. They are my world. But I don’t have time to watch them anymore.” Hardy says. ”When you make movies, you don’t have time to watch them. You can’t make them and enjoy them at the same time.”
What about the role of Bane? TDKR was not only a mega-production, but also as expected, a hit, one of the most watched movies of the year.
“Same shit, different day.” Hardy laughs. ”The process is the same. The bowl of the gold fish is just bigger sometimes, but you always have to find your own place. I’ll be there, do what I do, I hope that it’s enough. Once you’ve done this work long enough, you’ll begin to trust that you’re convincing in front of the camera.“
It would be strange if Hardy doesn’t become a first-class star. He has the same uncompromisingness as his fellow countryman, the Batman star Christian Bale, but Hardy is more approachable and feels like a more relaxed guy. A tough guy. Like Bale, Hardy experiences acting as a continuous process. He never really stops. “It becomes your nature. I am working all the time. I steal from everybody. Even you.”