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!
**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.