Why Did It Take Tom Hardy 38 years to come into our lives?

It doesn’t take long for our population to get over a seemingly large issue, and move onto the next without looking back. This year at the Oscars, the big issue was Leonardo DiCaprio and his lack of little gold man. Once that situation was eradicated, the nation moved onto bigger and better things to gripe about. I’m here to start a ruckus over the next star that absolutely should have walked away with an Oscar in recent years – that man is Tom Hardy.

Hardy has found his way into the hearts of many Americans, yet surprisingly I still sometimes hear, “who?” when his name is mentioned. After the Oscars, the headlines surrounding Hardy’s evening were rumors of his wife pumping breast milk in the ladies’ room and his phone case displaying a picture of himself (with his dog, to be fair).  That is a travesty. Tom Hardy is underrated and deserves a little shine.

Tom Hardy comes from Hammersmith, London which is why a number of his (early) films are British Productions. He is an only child to artist parents and spent some time modeling before his TV debut in the 2001 HBO miniseries Band of Brothers. This was shortly followed by his film debut, Black Hawk Down.

His portrayal of Twombly in Black Hawk Down, I must say, is hard to spot. The bulky Tom Hardy we know today was not the young man in the film. The only signifying characteristics are those full lips because everything we’ve come to know and love about Hardy… the big muscles, the deep voice, strong silent-type is absent. When portraying Twombly Hardy was 24 and from the looks of the interviews, he was a very young 24-year-old. For a DVD behind-the-scenes interview Tom Hardy giddily says, “I begged them to blow me up, and I’ve been looking forward to it. Then they blow me up and it was great…and any time anyone wants to blow me up, I’ll do that again. ” It is this adolescent attitude that I think has something to do with his career missing the takeoff point much earlier on.

Left Tom Hardy, Right Patrick Stewart - Star Trek Nemisis. Image: Paramount Pictures

Left Tom Hardy, Right Patrick Stewart – Star Trek Nemisis. Image: Paramount Pictures

In 2002, Hardy played the role of Shinzon, a villain, in Star Trek: Nemesis.  He was cast because he looked enough like a younger Patrick Stewart. Director Baird specifically wanted an unknown actor, and Hardy auditioned by tape after Stewart asked Hardy’s agent if they thought any of their clients were suitable for the role. Hardy wasn’t happy with his screen test and luckily had recorded himself doing scenes the previous night in a hotel room. Those tapes landed him the role.

Unfortunately for Hardy, Star Trek: Nemesis did not garner many positive reviews and fell flat at the box office due to its release in proximity to LOTR and Harry Potter installments that same year. This, in no way seemed to be the fault of Hardy, however. He received a Saturn Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor and many say this is a great performance on his part. His character Shinzon was dedicated and even reminds me a little of Eddie Redmayne’s bold portrayal of Balam Abrasax in Jupiter Ascending.

Some blame Nemesis’ flop for Hardy’s development of some serious drug and substance abuse problems thereafter. Again, here is yet another reason it took so long for us all to know and love Hardy. He once said in Us Weekly that during that time he “would have sold his own mother for a rock of crack cocaine.”  Hardy eventually checked himself into rehab in 2003 and has been sober for over ten years – just adding another notch to his swoon meter.

Once sober, Hardy began working more often in film and television, building an unstoppable momentum (I feel it, Tom!). He landed a few more Hollywood roles in Dot the I (2003) and Marie Antoinette alongside Kirsten Dunst in 2006. Yet to no avail, Hardy says, “People didn’t sit up and take any notice of me until I started putting on weight, kicking people and being aggressive.”

Tom Hardy in 'Bronson' - Image: Magnet Releasing

Tom Hardy in ‘Bronson’ – Image: Magnet Releasing

Fast forward to 2010 where Tom Hardy caught everyone’s attention as Eames in Inception (am I right ladies?). This film was, in my belief, wrongfully considered Tom Hardy’s breakthrough performance. His prior films in 2008, Bronson and RocknRolla are two of my favorite turns from him, either of which could be considered a breakthrough role. In RocknRolla Hardy plays Handsome Bob, a closeted gay man with a secret crush on Scottish mob leader, One-Two. In Bronson Hardy is the lead portraying real life prisoner, Charlie Bronson, otherwise known as Michael Gordon Peterson, who spent the majority of his life in solitary confinement for being the United Kingdom’s most dangerous prisoner. It is this film which should have snagged Hardy more looks. His performance is incredible– both comedic and sadistic. Real life Bronson recalls that Hardy “looked more like me than me.”   

From that day on, Tom Hardy has become a force to be reckoned with. His films constantly remind of us his versatility although the public seems to favor his strong, quiet brute roles more than the rest. However, it’s important to look at films like, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011), in which Hardy plays British spy, Rikki Tarr.  While he didn’t have much screen time, this reminds the public of his multifaceted talent during his newfound recognition. Another film to note is Locke where Hardy’s skills are under a microscope, as this experimental film follows a long car ride and multiple phone conversations with the camera right in his face for most of the film. There is no reprieve from Hardy in this one, and you won’t want one.

I am most surprised that his work alongside Joel Edgerton in Warrior didn’t stir up more major recognition. This film was an incredible performance for me. This tale follows two estranged brothers – a war hero and a teacher – and their alcoholic father. The movie also showcases some intense MMA skills and hardcore fight scenes. The one film I’m still raving about is Lawless, which is still streaming on Netflix.

Tom Hardy in 'Lawless' Image: The Weinstein Company

Tom Hardy in ‘Lawless’ Image: The Weinstein Company

Looking at the release dates in each of his films we can see that Tom Hardy works a LOT. He is constantly pushing his body to mold and change for each role, and when asked why he puts his body through it all, he says he’s, “just trying to stay gainfully employed.” In 2015 alone, Hardy was in five feature length films ranging from long and grueling shoots like the 8 months it took to make The Revenant and the short 7 weeks to film Legend. IMDB lists that some of his upcoming works will include Dunkirk the story of the Dunkirk evacuation during WWII directed by Christopher Nolan, the follow-up to Fury Road, Mad Max: The Wasteland (also to be directed by George Miller) and Rocketman, the story of Elton John with Hardy playing the singing legend. 

Whatever future projects you have for us, Tom, we all think you’ll be wonderful.  I’m looking forward to Hardy’s upcoming work and have a feeling he’ll be attending many more award ceremonies in the future. Who knows? Next time we might all be holding our breath for him to win Best Actor at the Academy Awards. Move aside Leo, your time has passed.