Wednesday, 23 November 2011

A Career in Ten Movies: Tom Hardy

Every actor, whether they are churning out rehearsed lines in a waiting room fringed with competitors or bright eyed and bushy tailed fresh out of drama school, dreams of establishing an all encompassing career that enables them to play a wide spectrum of characters. One such actor whose star is set to rise in 2012 is Tom Hardy, a home grown British talent with a rough and ready streak which is reflected in the roles he has been offered. With the perfect mix of physical masculinity and ability to reflect heartfelt inner turmoil, Hardy has emerged as a hunk, an anti-hero and a villain. Here I look at ten of Tom’s most memorable roles:

1.       Wuthering Heights – Heathcliff

Certain roles present themselves as gifts to the actors that take them on. Heathcliff is one such character that comes steeped in tradition and expectation, in being a role that has been done to death but never really ‘captured’ in essence on screen. Many believe that Tom’s turn as the tortured and embittered lover comes closest. Though he speaks with a brawling Londoners accent, Tom managers to come over all ‘Yorkshire’ (and rather convincingly) and this is also the film that persuaded Tom to ditch his long term love interest and mother to his child and test out a new relationship with co-star Charlotte Riley, which adds a dimension of plausible reality to their simmering on screen chemistry. With his wild, windswept looks, Hardy brings an interesting quality to the bitter and brooding Heathcliff.

2. Warrior – Tommy Conlon

Tom as Tommy Conlon in 'Warrior' - tom-hardy photo

A role that Tom was born to play – gritty, grim and gruesome, Tommy Conlon is estranged from his family and harbours a few grudges against his brother and father. Little does he know he must battle brother Brendan in order to win a rather handsome fortune in a mixed martial arts competition. Tom perfectly becomes the brutal and unbalanced animal of a man that Tommy morphs into in the fighting arena, whilst managing with great sensitivity and grace, to depict the tender fragility of Tommy’s past whilst never losing the manly, masculine slant of his personality. The raw, wild tenacity of Tom’s adrenal performance established him as a man’s actor in one respect, but by capturing the heartache of Tommy’s tragic past, Tom secured himself as a favourite with the ladies. It didn’t hurt one bit that his shirt was off practically the entire time.

3. Inception – Eames

Inception is loaded with big movie star names – you’ve got Leo, you’ve got preggers from ‘Juno’, Michael Caine (who will forever be Scrooge to me), but Tom manages to own the character he is bestowed with and really hold his own. Eames is an identity forger who joins Cobb’s team as they perform the feat that is inception. The plot for me was crazier and more complex than a box of frogs attempting to knit a scarf but even with his role as a sideline character, Hardy demonstrates sincerity and naturalness in his performance.

 4. Bronson – Charles Bronson / Michael Peterson

That rough diamond London Boy gleam that Tommy boy gives off does not go unnoticed. Charles Bronson has been described as one of Britain’s most notorious criminals, having spent forty years in prison for his various crimes. If you’re looking for the bad boy with charm, Tom can most certainly deliver. He transforms in this role, to deliver a sneaky, sinister, slow paced way of speech that verges on the very cusp of insanity and psychosis. Bursting with effervescent personality, Hardy manages to be funny and frightening and even manages to look kinda sexy with that mammoth tash. This role single-handedly set Tom up for the many villainous roles he has been bestowed with since, as he adds a human touch to what could be construed as very black and white roles.

5. Star Trek: Nemesis - Praetor Shinzon

Tommy boy portrays a clone of the well known and well loved Captain Picard as all Star Trek fans will know. Possibly a good set up for his role as Tommy in Warrior, Shinzon is the ultimate test tube baby, brewed, bottled for a purpose and discarded when he is no longer of any use. The exchanges between Shinzon and Picard are memorable as Tom displays a growing confidence and command of his craft.

6. Layer Cake – Clarkie

This is a true all boys club bruiser of a film, so who better to cast than Tom, with those chavtastic charming looks? With a double first from Cambridge, Clarkie is in cahoots with Daniel Craig’s ‘XXXX’ as a supplier of cocaine. The film takes an interesting angle and you really have to pay attention to delve into the layers of society and its criminal underbelly that seems to permeate through all classes and spheres. ‘Clarkie’ is not a huge role but Tom establishes himself as ‘generic bored and suave criminal' rather well. This was the first film I witnessed Hardy in and it’s amazing to see how far his career has since spanned.

7. Scenes of a Sexual Nature – Noel

Tom’s career could have gone in a very different direction had he followed the rom-com route, but this seems to be one of his few forays, as various strangers meet and mingle in a Hampstead Heath park. Tom is gawky, awkward and a little cringy as he attempts to pick up the ladies (which must have been a real stretch for him), but there is something quite endearing and disarmingly sweet about him as a ‘park dwelling creep’. I for one am glad he took the route of badassery.  There is definitely a place for him should the chiselled, hot damn sexy thing fail to work out for him.

8. RockNRolla – Handsome Bob

Once you’ve been in one movie that explores London’s intricate criminal underworld, chances are, you’ll probably be in them all. Directors tend to get all nostalgic and whimsical about home-grown English criminals and they love a bit of banal, bad boy banter. Naturally, Tom has a place here with his half cocky, half naive eyes. As part of the ‘Wild Bunch’, Handsome Bob does a lot of smoking and swearing. The interesting twang to Hardy’s character is that in the smack talking, gun toting world of crazy crime – a world that just screams MANLY MEN – Handsome Bob is a closeted homosexual harbouring a massive crush on member One Two (well he is played by Gerard friggin’ Butler).

9. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy – Ricki Tarr

By now, Hardy has established himself as ‘one of the boys’ so no doubt calling on his experience from earlier bit roles in Layer Cake and RockNRolla, Tom is yet another part of a complex crime puzzle. Tom is fairly unrecognisable as a blondie and without giving away too much of this intricate espionage movie (for those who haven’t seen it) he plays his part well.

10. The Dark Knight Rises – Bane

Fair enough this film has not been released yet, but I just know that this film will do for Hardy what the Dark Knight did for Heath Ledger. Not much is known of Bane’s character, although we do know that he is Batman’s new adversary eight years after the events of the Dark Knight and Batman has somewhat lost his edge after the tragic death of Harvey Dent.  Hardy became a sheer machine for the filming of this movie, bulking up to great effect and has explained that he wishes to portray Bane as a ‘menacing’ character. Tom certainly looks the part, but he is sure to become it too, promising that Bane will be an exhilarating antagonist with a brutal and unforgiving vendetta against Gotham City.