Before he was Mad Max: Tom Hardy.

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Okay, Tom Hardy is no longer a British TV secret. In past years he has been everywhere: on his new TV show Taboo (for the FX network; it debuts today, Jan. 10*); as Max in Mad Max: Fury Road; John Fitzgerald in The Revenant (playing opposite Leonardo DiCaprio); Ivan Locke in Locke; Bane in The Dark Knight Rises; as Eames in Christopher Nolan’s hugely popular movie Inception. He is so omnipresent in American media that Americans probably figure he is American.

Tom Hardy is emphatically not American. (Listen to the accent.)

But I’d like to go on record as being a Tom Hardy fan long before he took on the role of Mad Max.** (Which, full disclosure: I can’t watch because the amount of violence in the three-minute trailer turned my stomach. I love Tom Hardy, but if I have to endure two hours of nonstop horrific violence to get to him, I just can’t do it.) I have, in fact, loved Tom Hardy since he played opposite Anne-Marie Duff (another huge favorite of mine, and also, incidentally, Mrs. James McAvoy, that lucky girl) in the fabulous 2005 miniseries The Virgin Queen.

Playing Robert Dudley to Duff’s Queen Elizabeth I, Hardy took over the screen every time he was on it, which was no mean feat, because Elizabeth I seems, by all accounts, to have been a pretty domineering person, and Duff did a fantastic job playing her. Oh, and the chemistry:

Have I mentioned that you simply must watch The Virgin Queen?

So, yeah. I actually haven’t seen Tom Hardy in any of the huge star-making roles that I listed in the first paragraph. (I just realized that as I was typing.) But I’ll always love him for The Virgin Queen, and I also loved him in Guy Ritchie’s film RockNRolla. (By the way, that film includes a nice turn by the very talented Idris Elba, as well.) I so wish I could include one of my favorite clips from that movie here, but any of my favorites would give away a fairly large plot point that you should really only get by watching RockNRolla (which, full disclosure, is also violent. Good Lord, It’s disturbing how many violent things I’ve watched and I don’t even remember how violent they were).

Speaking of other, earlier roles, I can’t say I was crazy about his Heathcliff in the 2009 adaptation of Wuthering Heights, but he was very, very good as the very repugnant Bill Sikes in the 2007 remake of Oliver Twist. And, although it is a later role, he also does nice work as Jewish gangster Alfie Solomon in Peaky Blinders (which, here’s a surprise: is a bit too violent for its own good). To his credit, even Hardy seems to realize that he’s been in a lot of dark stuff; he points out in this interview that his two kids don’t believe he has a day job and that it’s acting, because they’re not old enough to watch anything he’s been in.

This whole post has made me miss The Virgin Queen all the more (he was conniving in that, but not downright scary). I would love to see Tom Hardy in a new role in something that I could actually watch without being disturbed. I’ll continue to hope!

*Speaking of violence: yeah, just judging from the trailers it looks like I’m not going to be able to watch Taboo either.

**And I’m not the only one these days taking a closer look at Hardy’s career; The Wire beat me on this sort of post by one day! WARNING: There’s some spoilers in that article.


  1. I’m not a big fan of violence either, but the violence in FURY ROAD was so over-the-top and almost … balletic, really, that it didn’t bother me. But I loved that movie, not because of Tom Hardy (Max is pretty much a nonentity in the film) but because of all the awesome badass women and sisterhood and Girl!Powa~ and stuff.

    I can’t stand the Nolan Batman, or any Nolan film, or DiCaprio in anything, so … I haven’t seen most of his ouevre. I never heard of RocknRolla, so I looked it up, and was sold from the moment I read “crime comedy”.

    • Hapax!
      Yeah, the violence, I don’t know. Sometimes when it’s so choreographed and balletic (I know exactly what you mean) and so…pretty…then the violence bothers me even more. Because that portrayal of violence almost makes it look like it doesn’t even hurt. Like it’s transcendent or something. I do not find pain transcendent, and I say that as someone who enjoyed (!) natural childbirth.

      All of that aside…I can’t really follow any of the Batmans or Marvels or most of the superhero stuff, so I won’t be seeing that one either. But do track down some of Hardy’s earlier stuff. “RockNRolla” is GREAT–speaking of crime comedy, have you also seen Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels? Awesome. And I really would like to hear what you think about “The Virgin Queen.” Perhaps historical drama is not your thang, but it’s a solid watch, and at only four episodes or so, it won’t take your whole life.

  2. I loved Tom Hardy from The Virgin Queen too, i was watching every movie that my favorite actress Emilia Fox was in, and i discovered Tom, he was so brilliant as Robert Dudley, Emilia had a small supporting role, she played his wife, Amy. she and Tom had one scene but their story was deeply touching, what i liked the most is Amy’s love and loyalty to Robert and the tragedy of their story, Robert’s character was described in this series that he was only trying to reap a bout of the queen’s favours, Implying to the queen that he feels nothing for his wife and stuff like that to satisfy her, before Robert allows his ambitions to swallow him, he told his wife Amy that he have to reap as long as he can from the queen’s favour and fearing that the queen would send him far away from his wife (like she refused to invite Amy to the court), and telling her maid to take care of her since “she might well be the best part of me”. i know that Robert and Amy’s story was short but it was very interesting, i loved Robert’s sad grin in the rain, it has so many feels….

    anyway, i think that’s Tom’s only role as a romantic and charming hero, mostly of his roles are villain and anti heroes, but still, he’s so amazing!!

    • Lady Amy Dudley!
      I can tell from your login name that you are a big fan of the Dudleys!
      I too loved every aspect of The Virgin Queen, including the relationship between Amy and Dudley. I thought they left it rather ambiguous what really happened between the two of them–there was certainly tenderness acted on both sides! Great acting jobs by both Hardy and Fox.
      Hardy does seem to gravitate toward the role of villain, doesn’t he? While he wasn’t a romantic in either of these movies, I think he played the hero in Locke and his role in The Drop was really interesting. Kind of a conflicted role. A sad movie, if I remember correctly, but one I want to see again because Hardy did such a great job in it (“The Drop,” that is).
      Thanks for commenting!

    • The Drop and Locke are terrific!! Locke is my favorite movie role of Tom, the Drop is my 4th favorite role (2nd is Warrior and 3rd is Bronson), his movies are so unique!!

      AHH! ❤️❤️ Heathcliff ❤️❤️ such a dark character, Hardy’s television roles are so interesting, to be honest i loved his British television roles more than his american movies, but don’t get me wrong, every movie he starred in is great ❤️❤️

      I Enjoyed reading your article ❤️

      • I’ll admit I can’t get myself to watch “Bronson,” too dark for me! Maybe someday…

        Loved The Drop, though. Such a human movie, with some people being jerks and others just trying to deal with the fallout from that.

        Let’s face it, most of British TV is better than American movies…I still can’t believe how many people have not seen him in “The Virgin Queen.”

        Thanks for reading the article, and thanks for commenting!

  3. yes Bronson is violence and darkness overload, it’s not suitable for everyone, i completely agree with you that the British TV is better than American movies. I have MANY British TV series and I really enjoy them the most, i even lost interest of what’s trending on Hollywood and stuff like that, but the British TV are not that popular in the internet unfortunately and you just can’t find anybody that cares for them or someone is discussing them, you just can’t find anything.

    i suggested Colditz for you because it’s not dark and does not have that violence, and Tom Hardy is the hero, also it’s the same year as ‘The Virgin Queen’. 🙂

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