Tom Hardy famously battled personal demons in his 20s, and brings a brooding presence to all his roles – whatever the genre. In reverse order, here are our pick of the best.
If one Hardy isn’t enough for you, Tom doubles up for this fascinating portrait of the infamous London gangster brothers, playing both smooth, menacing Reggie and psychotic Ronnie. The movie is haphazard in parts, but Hardy’s committed performances dominate the whole thing, making it never less than entertaining.
9 Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
Hardy is surrounded by some heavyweight British acting muscle – Gary Oldman, John Hurt, Colin Firth, Toby Jones, Benedict Cumberbatch – in this fast-moving take on John le Carré’s complex thriller. But his clammy rogue agent Ricki Tarr sets the ball rolling with his report of a high-ranking mole in British Intelligence.
8 The Dark Knight Rises
Hardy made lots of headlines as Bane in Christopher Nolan’s Batman finale, some of it for the muscle on show (he gained an extra 42lbs in weight), some of it for the muffled growling that passed for dialogue spoken through his mask. The result is a memorable performance as one of the franchise’s most intimidating villains.
The physical demands of this MMA flick may have been a cinch for Hardy, but he had to push himself to his limits emotionally to portray an ex-marine who returns to his estranged family with demons to dispel. The kitchen spats with his screen dad Nick Nolte are as bruising as the cage fights.
This mind-bending sci-fi thriller marked Hardy’s first team-up with Christopher Nolan, and it brought him to a larger audience. Among an A-list ensemble, Hardy fits right in as the sharp-tongued identity-forger Eames, part of a team brought together to plant a dream in the mind of an unsuspecting corporate billionaire.
Bronson showed that Hardy could carry a movie. He plays notorious British jailbird Charles Bronson, with a brutal performance that includes music-hall vignettes and fourth-wall-breaking asides, as well as violent prison scenes that explain why Bronson’s original seven-year sentence eventually extended to 35 years behind bars. It’s violent, yes, but funny, too.
There’s nowhere to hide in this one-man show, with Hardy behind the wheel of his car for almost the whole movie, playing a construction manager on the phone during a trip. It sounds like the dullest pitch ever, but you simply can’t take your eyes off him.
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3 Mad Max: Fury Road
Hardy took the lead for George Miller’s long-awaited reboot of his cult action series. Many critics voted it their film of the year, and it was nominated for ten Oscars. Hardy brought a dangerous presence to the role of Max, and had no problem working almost without dialogue: “I could do grunting for the whole film,” he suggested.
2 The Revenant
Hardy gained a first Oscar nomination for his performance as a treacherous trapper in this relentless wilderness adventure. It’s set in 1820s America and sees heartless, pragmatic Hardy leave Leonardo DiCaprio to die in the snowbound wilderness after being savaged by a bear. In addition to his Oscar nod, Hardy also gained a tattoo stating “Leo knows all” after losing a bet with DiCaprio that his co-star wouldn’t win the best actor statuette.
Christopher Nolan’s epic, sweeping snapshot of the evacuation of Allied soldiers from France puts Hardy back behind a mask. But nothing can prevent his unflappable RAF pilot making his mark – which is why Nolan admits he begged Hardy (“in a dignified manner”) to take the part.