15 Surprising Facts About Tom Hardy

NIKLAS HALLE'N/AFP/Getty Images
NIKLAS HALLE'N/AFP/Getty Images

You don't have to be a Hollywood insider to know that Tom Hardy is widely considered to be one of the most talented actors of his generation … and that he has a reputation for not always being willing to play by Hollywood’s rules.

Since making his onscreen debut in 2001, the London native has gone on to collaborate with some of the world’s most talented filmmakers, including Ridley Scott, George Miller, Alejandro González Iñárritu, Sofia Coppola, and Christopher Nolan. He also created, produced, and starred in the FX hit Taboo and earned an Oscar nomination for his role in The Revenant—and all of this before hitting the big 4-0. 

Now, six years after making his mark in the comic book movie world playing Batman's nemesis Bane in The Dark Knight Rises (2012), Hardy is at it again as a journalist-alien hybrid in Venom, which arrives in theaters this week. Which gives you plenty of time to read up on Hardy's past life as a model, his struggles with addiction, and why he thinks heroes are "boring."

1. HE WON A TELEVISION MODELING CONTEST.

Technically, Tom Hardy’s onscreen debut came in 1998, when he took part in a modeling contest on the British morning show The Big Breakfast. Among the facts we learned about the then-21-year-old: He was a drama student who idolized Gary Oldman, liked Eddie Izzard, wanted to write and direct his own short films, and didn’t like football. And yes, he won.

2. HE MADE HIS ONSCREEN DEBUT IN BAND OF BROTHERS.

In September of 1998, shortly after he began attending the Drama Centre London, Hardy dropped out when he was offered a role in the Steven Spielberg-produced WWII miniseries Band of Brothers (2001). When asked about the experience by IGN in 2002, Hardy said that, “Band of Brothers was my first job so I was virtually out of the frying pan and into the fire, really. I'd not had previous experience with working in front of the camera, so there was dealing with that. Also, I had the research material—not that I'd need it. I mean, I was in two episodes and had 12 lines. That was the sum total of work [I] had to do.”

Hardy made his big-screen debut in 2001 as well, playing Twombly in Ridley Scott’s Black Hawk Down. “I was the Ranger who got left behind,” he told IGN. “He was sort of, if you could call it, comic relief to [a] very precarious situation.”

3. HE WENT TO SCHOOL WITH MICHAEL FASSBENDER.

While attending the Drama Centre London, Hardy looked up to a fellow student who was two years older than him: Michael Fassbender. “He was a really serious method actor and we used to watch him and think, ‘F**k, man! He’s the sh*t!,’” Hardy told The Daily Beast. “He was in an Irish play about this guy who came back from the First World War who was a great athlete but ended up in a wheelchair, but at lunchtime he wouldn’t come out of character and was always in his wheelchair and we’d be like, ‘Dude! Just order your lunch and come along! We’ve got an hour before we have to go back to class! But he was the best actor in the school.” (Fassbender, too, landed a role in Band of Brothers.)

4. HARDY REPLACED FASSBENDER IN TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY.

Though their careers have taken different paths, Hardy and Fassbender overlapped a bit in 2010, when Hardy replaced Fassbender as British operative “Tricky” Ricky Tarr in Tomas Alfredson’s 2011 adaptation of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, a Cold War thriller based on the John le Carré novel.

5. HE IDOLIZES GARY OLDMAN.

Tom Hardy and Gary Oldman in 'Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy' (2011)
Jack English, Focus Features

That aforementioned modeling contest wouldn’t be the only time Hardy expressed his admiration of Gary Oldman. In 2011, he told ShortList that, “Gary Oldman is my absolute complete and utter hero. He’s the f**king man. I look at him and I want to be like that for my generation—I want to have that same quality. He’s incredible.”

That same year, Hardy got the chance to star alongside Oldman in the Oscar-nominated Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. “There is a definite ‘hang on a minute’ [moment], but I’ve got past the star-struck part now,” Hardy said of getting the chance to act opposite Oldman. They have since worked together on three more films: Lawless (2012), The Dark Knight Rises (2012), and Child 44 (2015).

6. HE BATTLED DRUG AND ALCOHOL ADDICTION AT AN EARLY AGE.

With his star on the rise, Hardy was forced to confront an issue he had been dealing with since his teens: a serious alcohol and crack addiction. After shooting Star Trek: Nemesis (2002), Hardy checked himself into rehab. “I didn’t want anyone to know I was out of control, but I couldn’t hide it,” Hardy said in 2014. “I went in thinking I’d do it for a little bit until I can go out and drink and people forgive me. But I did my 28 days, and after listening to people who had been through similar circumstances I realized I did have a problem.” Hardy has been sober since 2003.

7. HE HAS DUG INTO HIS PAST FOR CERTAIN ROLES.

When discussing his role in 2011’s Warrior, in which he plays the son of an alcoholic former boxer played by Nick Nolte, Hardy told ShortList that, “In the [alcohol abuse] scenes with Nick Nolte, if you’ve been to those depths, experience allows you to think ‘this is right’ or ‘this is wrong’ and know how to react. There’s only so much imagination you can use before you have to go out and live life again. You see these kid actors who work from 10 to 21 and then all of a sudden they disappear for a bit. They’ve got nothing to draw upon apart from a life of working, so you need to go out and catch up and then come back in again.”

8. HE ALMOST PLAYED MR. DARCY IN JOE WRIGHT’S PRIDE & PREJUDICE

Hardy auditioned to play Mr. Darcy in Joe Wright’s 2005 adaptation of Pride & Prejudice, starring Keira Knightley. The role ultimately went to Matthew Macfadyen, while a studio head told Hardy that, “Babe, every woman in the world has an impression of who Darcy is and you’re just not it.”

“That hurt, that really hurt,” Hardy told The Telegraph in 2009. “I’d worn a blue shirt and jeans and a blue blazer and been doing my best Hugh Grant impression. But now I was back to playing the wonky skewiff-teeth kid with the bow legs.”

9. HE GAINED MORE THAN 40 POUNDS FOR BRONSON … BY EATING CHOCOLATE AND PIZZA.

Tom Hardy in 'Bronson' (2008)
Magnolia Pictures

Hardy first gained international attention for playing the title role in Nicolas Winding Refn’s Bronson (2008), an in-your-face biopic about Michael Gordon Peterson, who has been called both the “most violent prisoner in Britain” and “Britain's most notorious prisoner.” He gained 42 pounds to play the role.

“I was a mess after Bronson,” he told ShortList. “I got really fat. I was a real road crash ... By the time I went to Pittsburgh to film Warrior I had two hours of boxing, two hours of Muay Thai, two hours of Jiu-Jitsu, two hours of choreography, and two hours of weightlifting a day, every day for eight weeks. I don’t know how people do that every day. Bronson was fun. For Bronson I just ate chocolate and pizza, lifted [my friend] Pnut up and down the stairs, played Xbox, shaved my head and grew a mustache."

10. HE ATTRIBUTES HIS ACTING TALENT TO BEING A GOOD LIAR.

When asked about how he ended up pursuing a career in acting, Hardy said that, “In the end there was nothing else I could do. I had a busy head and I didn’t really want to do things that I found boring. The only thing that kept my attention was to play and have fun and manipulate. I’ve always been a liar, always been able to manipulate. I pretty much get whatever I want.”

“Acting really is a mixture of bullsh*tting and manipulating and the study of action-reaction,” he added. “And camouflage—hiding yourself in other languages, bodies, and shapes. Acting channeled me into something. I found some self-esteem and thought, ‘I’m actually quite good at something.’”

11. HE’S AWARE THAT HE HAS A REPUTATION FOR BEING CHALLENGING.

Over the years, Hardy has developed a reputation for being an intense collaborator—and not always in a good way. Hardy knows what people think of him, but he doesn’t know that it’s well deserved. “There's this myth, which is quite asinine, that circulates about me—usually by those who haven't worked with me,” he told The Hollywood Reporter. “There's only one thing worse than being talked about and that's not being talked about in this game so I'd rather it be that, I guess. But there are other people who I work with consistently who know that's not the case—who just wouldn't risk having somebody like that in their midst because there's too much at stake. Obviously you're going to rub people the wrong way … and I've been a dick. But then, who hasn't?”

12. IT’S HARD FOR HIM TO CRY ON CUE … BUT MR. HOLLAND’S OPUS MAKES HIM WEEPY.

For an actor with a reputation for being a tough guy, it’s probably not surprising that Hardy can’t cry on cue. “I find crying difficult,” he told ShortList. “It takes a long time for me to go. And I won’t know what will send me. I’m quite sentimental. If my son tells me he loves me, that will make me cry. Mr. Holland’s Opus, unbelievably, broke me. A random anomaly. Bambi would probably do me. Or Shrek."

13. HE PREFERS PLAYING VILLAINS, BECAUSE HEROES ARE “BORING.”

 Actor Tom Hardy arrives at the Winter TCA Tour FX Starwalk at Langham Hotel on January 12, 2017 in Pasadena, California
Matt Winkelmeyer, Getty Images

When discussing his penchant for playing villains, Hardy told The Hollywood Reporter, “I play a lot of scary blokes, and there are probably a few reasons why. First, villains are much more interesting than hero leads, who are, for the most part, really boring. The thought of going into work day in and day out to play someone who is just mind-numbingly boring fills me with dread, so I don't bother. Another part of it is when I was younger I remember being frightened a lot—of being small and skinny and vulnerable and feeling that I could have been preyed upon easily. So, everything that I play is what scared me.”

14. HUGH JACKMAN THINKS HE’D MAKE A GREAT WOLVERINE.

With Hugh Jackman’s run as Wolverine winding down, MTV UK asked the actor who he thought might be able to fill his mutant shoes. Jackman did not hesitate to suggest Hardy for the part.

15. HARDY THINKS HE’D MAKE A BETTER JAMES BOND.

When asked about the chances of returning for a fifth go at playing James Bond in 2015, current 007 Daniel Craig famously stated that he’d “rather … slash my wrists. No, not at the moment. Not at all. That’s fine. I’m over it at the moment. We’re done. All I want to do is move on.” Ever since, fans and the media have been discussing who could be the next James Bond. Tom Hiddleston, Idris Elba, and Henry Cavill have become a few of the most frequently talked about replacements. But when Hardy made it known that he’d be game to take over the role, if Christopher Nolan would direct, Hollywood took interest.

“You know, there’s a saying amongst us in the fraternity of acting, and in the fellowship of my peer group, that if you talk about it you’re automatically out of the race,” Hardy said when asked about the possibility of becoming Bond. “So I can’t possibly comment on that one! If I mention it, it’s gone. But Chris Nolan, what a fantastic director for a Bond movie. Because Daniel [Craig] is so good, and what [Sam] Mendes, and [producer] Barbara [Broccoli] have done has been so impressive, that it would be a very hard reimagination to follow after. I wonder what the next installment of that franchise would become, and I think when you mention someone like Christopher Nolan, that’s a very powerful figure to bring into that world who could bring something new and create something profound … again.”

When asked whether he’d be into reinventing another franchise, Nolan told Playboy “definitely … I’ve spoken to the producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson over the years. I deeply love the character, and I’m always excited to see what they do with it. Maybe one day that would work out. You’d have to be needed, if you know what I mean. It has to need reinvention; it has to need you. And they’re getting along very well.”

But fans will have to wait and see. In August 2017, Craig confirmed that he will be returning for Bond 25.

25 Most Extreme Actor Transformations for Movies

Christian Bale stars as Dick Cheney in Adam McKay's Vice (2018)
Christian Bale stars as Dick Cheney in Adam McKay's Vice (2018)
Greig Fraser, Annapurna Pictures

When an actor is critically acclaimed for their work, it's not just the talent people are looking at. It's the dedication that truly drives the star to dive deep into their character and persuade us as viewers of their story. While some are more convincing than others, the best actors frequently go to dangerous extremes to craft as authentic a performance as possible. Sometimes this means undergoing unbelievable transformations, as Christian Bale recently did to inhabit the role of Dick Cheney in Adam McKay's upcoming Vice—and not for the first time. Here are 25 of the most extreme actor transformations.

1. CHRISTIAN BALE // THE MACHINIST (2004)

Christian Bale's most extreme transformation is hands down for his performance in The Machinist. The Method actor played the part of an industrial worker who hadn't slept in a year, and truly looked worse than that. Bale lost 63 pounds in four months, thanks to eating only one can of tuna or one apple a day.

2. CHARLIZE THERON // MONSTER (2003)

In the role that proved Charlize Theron was more than just a pretty face, the actress played real-life serial killer Aileen Wuornos, completely transforming her appearance. Besides her facial differences,Theron gained 30 pounds for the part, by mostly eating donuts and other junk. Her performance earned her an Oscar. It wasn't the last time Theron transformed her body for a role; she gained 50 pounds to play a mom with post-partum depression for this year's Tully.

3. JARED LETO // DALLAS BUYERS CLUB (2013)

To play a transgender person living with HIV in Dallas Buyers Club, Jared Leto basically stopped eating—and dropped down to 116 pounds. "I think the role demanded that commitment," Leto said of the extreme diet plan. "It was about how does that affect how I walk, how I talked, who I am, how I feel. You know, you feel very fragile and delicate and unsafe." He ended up winning an Oscar for his performance.

4. TOM HARDY // BRONSON (2008)

To play the real-life British criminal Charles Bronson, Tom Hardy put on 42 pounds for Nicolas Winding Refn's Bronson. He reportedly did so with the help of an ex-Marine, who motivated and trained him. Hardy said he ate mostly chicken, rice, chocolate, and pizza while training, gaining about seven pounds a week.

5. MATTHEW MCCONAUGHEY // DALLAS BUYERS CLUB (2013)

Alongside co-star Jared Leto, Matthew McConaughey had to drop some serious weight for his role as the real-life HIV-positive Ron Woodrooff in Dallas Buyers Club. Ultimately, he dropped 38 pounds by dieting and eating in small quantities. McConaughey went on to win an Oscar for his performance.

6. ROBERT DE NIRO // RAGING BULL (1980)

For one of his most iconic roles ever, Robert De Niro played real-life boxer Jake LaMotta in Raging Bull, and won an Oscar for his performance. In order to play this part, the actor got extremely buffed up through a grueling training routine with the actual LaMotta. Then, to play the boxer in later years, De Niro put on 60 pounds. Director Martin Scorsese was said to have only been able to shoot the actor for short periods of time in the later parts of filming, due to his struggle to breathe and general decline in health.

7. MICHAEL FASSBENDER // HUNGER (2008)

To take on the role of real-life activist Bobby Sands in Steve McQueen's Hunger, Michael Fassbender lost more than 40 pounds. Sands participated in the 1981 Irish hunger strike, and ultimately died doing so. For the role, Fassbender restricted himself to a 600-calorie-day diet, along with exercising.

8. 50 CENT // ALL THINGS FALL APART (2011)

To play a cancer patient in All Things Fall Apart, rapper 50 Cent lost his muscular frame by dropping 54 pounds. His method involved a liquid diet and running on the treadmill for three hours a day. “I had so much muscle on me that it was hard for me to lose definition even as I got lighter and slimmer," he said of preparing for the role. "I started running to suppress my appetite. Towards the end it was really difficult."

9. JARED LETO // CHAPTER 27 (2007)

In order to play Mark David Chapman, the man who assassinated John Lennon, Jared Leto had to gain nearly 70 pounds. By eating a lot of ice cream and other junk food, the actor put on 67 pounds, and ultimately developed gout, making it painful for him to simply walk.

10. ANNE HATHAWAY // LES MISÉRABLES (2012)

Anne Hathaway was already thin when she landed the iconic role as Fantine, a factory worker-turned-prostitute in Les Misérables. Still, she ended up losing 25 pounds for the part, claiming to have eaten two small squares of oatmeal paste a day. For the shoot's final 13 days, she basically stopped eating altogether. Though she only logged 15 minutes of screen time despite the film's whopping 158-minute runtime, Hathaway won an Oscar for the role

11. CHRIS PRATT // GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY (2014)

Chris Pratt's weight has fluctuated over the years, from his heftier Parks and Recreation look to his extremely ripped figure in Guardians of the Galaxy. For the Marvel role, Pratt lost 60 pounds in six months with intensive workouts and a diet change, including lots of water. "I was peeing all day long, every day," Pratt told Men's Journal. "That part was a nightmare,”

12. CHRISTIAN BALE // AMERICAN HUSTLE (2013)

Christian Bale is known for his incredible transformations for roles. For American Hustle, he gained 43 pounds to play a conman; he relied on junk food to reach his "goal" weight. His performance earned him an Oscar nomination.

13. ROONEY MARA // THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO (2011)

​In order to play the iconic role of Stieg Larsson's antihero Lisbeth Salander, Rooney Mara truly transformed her look for David Fincher's The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. The normally innocent-looking actress got her lip, eyebrow, nose, and nipple pierced, bleached her eyebrows, chopped off her hair. Mara was nominated for an Oscar for her performance.

14. MATT DAMON // COURAGE UNDER FIRE (1996)

In his breakout role, Matt Damon lost over 50 pounds in three months to play a heroin addict in Courage Under Fire. His diet consisted of chicken, egg whites, broccoli, and a baked potato everyday, along with running 13 miles daily, which resulted in him weighing only 137 pounds during filming. “I went too far," Damon once said of his extreme diet. "I got sick and I wouldn't do that again because it was just too much."

15. TOM HANKS // CAST AWAY (2000)

To prepare for his Oscar-nominated role in Cast Away, Tom Hanks put on 40 pounds to bulk up for the first half of the film. Once his character was stranded on the island, Hanks then had to lose the weight he had gained—and then some—for a 55-pound weight loss. (When it came time for Matthew McConaughey to lose weight for Dallas Buyers Club, he called Hanks for advice.)

16. JAKE GYLLENHAAL // NIGHTCRAWLER (2014)

Jake Gyllenhaal was nominated for a Golden Globe for his performance as a reporter in Nightcrawler.
The actor dropped around 20 pounds for the film by basically starving himself to get into the mindset of his character, Lou. "I knew that Lou was literally and figuratively hungry, so I got into the mode where I was always a bit hungry," the actor revealed.

17. NATALIE PORTMAN // BLACK SWAN (2010)

To play a troubled ballerina in Darren Aronofsky's Black Swan, Natalie Portman ate a few hundred calories a day, underwent a grueling training schedule, and eventually dropped 20 pounds. Portman went on to win an Oscar for her performance.

18. TOM HANKS // PHILADELPHIA (1993)

To portray a gay man with HIV in his Oscar-winning role in Philadelphia, Tom Hanks shaved his head and lost 35 pounds. His fragile and sickly look only added to his amazing performance.

19. HILARY SWANK // BOYS DON'T CRY (1999)

For her Oscar-winning role as Brandon Teena, a transgender man who was killed in 1993 as the result of a hate crime, Hilary Swank underwent a dramatic transformation. Not only did she play a male, but she literally lived as a man for a month to prepare. This included binding her chest and using socks as a prosthetic penis. She also lost weight in order to maintain a more masculine figure. Kimberly Peirce, the film's director, spent more than two years searching for an actress who could play the role; Swank won an Oscar for the role.

20. CHRIS HEMSWORTH // IN THE HEART OF THE SEA (2015)

Known best for playing the jacked Thor in the Marvel films, Chris Hemsworth had to get seriously skinny for his leading role in In the Heart of the Sea. In order to do this, the actor dropped 33 pounds in just four weeks, which he said took a toll on both his body and his mind. “In order to do it justice, the story, we had to suffer in some way and we did,” he told People. “In other words, not a whole lot of acting was required. We were desperate.” 

21. EMILE HIRSCH // INTO THE WILD (2007)

To play the late Christopher McCandless, Emile Hirsch and director Sean Penn decided that the actor should embark journey similar to the real-life traveler he was playing for Into the Wild. McCandless's experience through North America to Alaska caused him to lose a dramatic amount of weight before eventually passing away in the wild. Hirsch dropped 40 pounds by not drinking, cutting out sugar, and running five miles a day. “It took more willpower to lose that weight than to do anything I've ever done in my entire life,” Hirsch told USA Today of his transformation.

22. TOM CRUISE // TROPIC THUNDER (2008)

Tom Cruise had the help of prosthetics for his role in Tropic Thunder, but the actor really transformed his whole image a bit with this role.

23. CAMERON DIAZ // BEING JOHN MALKOVICH (1999)

With her normal blonde locks transformed into a frizzy, red mess, Cameron Diaz was practically unrecognizable as the wife of a puppeteer (John Cusack) in Spike Jonze's Being John Malkovich.

24. RUSSELL CROWE // THE INSIDER (1999)

Russell Crowe put on 35 pounds, shaved back his hairline, bleached his hair, and had liver spots and wrinkles applied with makeup to age him 20 years for his part in Michael Mann's The Insider—a role that earned Crowe went an Academy Award nomination.

25. EDDIE MURPHY // COMING TO AMERICA (1988)

In addition to his starring role as Prince Akeem in John Landis's Coming to America, Eddie Murphy also played the role of Saul, an old, white, Jewish man who hung out with the other characters at the barbershop. This role led Murphy to go on and play multiple characters in other films.

Daniel Radcliffe Says Kids No Longer Recognize Him as Harry Potter

John Sciulli, Getty Images for Turner
John Sciulli, Getty Images for Turner

Take a deep breath. If you're standing, sit down. Relax and find your happy place. Now try your best to stay there while I remind you that the first Harry Potter movie came out in 2001 and the last of the core films was released seven years ago. It's been so long, in fact, that series star Daniel Radcliffe—who made his debut in the role at age 11—will turn 30 next summer.

Apparently that separation of time has caused Radcliffe to lose some of his fame among the younger generation, as ​he discussed on MSNBC's Morning Joe. "I do have a thing sometimes where I meet kids now and their parents will bring them up to me and they'll be like, '​this is Harry Potter' and the kids will be like 'No it's not,'" Radcliffe said.

In the same interview, Radcliffe elaborated on what being a generational icon has meant to him. "It is very strange but also genuinely lovely when somebody comes up and says, '​You were a huge part of my childhood.' For me The Simpsons was a massive thing and the idea that I could occupy a similar place in someone's else life is so crazy and wonderful," he shared.

"I always say I'm incredibly lucky to have got famous with Harry Potter because it is a genuinely beloved thing," he added.

Radcliffe is currently starring in the Broadway production of The Lifespan of a Fact.

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER