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Actor Affinity: Tom Hardy

With the impending release of Inception this week, we PAMers thought that it is time for another Actor Affinity. With an impressive cast that includes Joesph Gordon-Levitt, Ellen Page, Marion Cotillard and Cillian Murphy we have decided to focus on Tom Hardy, who you may have seen in Star Trek: Nemesis and RocknRolla.

Born and raised in West London, Hardy was educated at the Tower House School, the same school Robert Pattinson attended, and the Drama Centre London, the same drama school that trained excellent actors such as Pierce Bronsan, Colin Firth and Michael Fassbender.
Like his contemporary Fassbender, Hardy landed a role in Band of Brothers after finishing Drama school, playing Private John Janovec in two episodes. He quickly landed his first feature film role in Ridley Scott’s Black Hawk Down, working in an ensemble cast that included Josh Hartnett, Ewan McGregor, Eric Bana and William Finchtner.

His promise was clear early on in his career. He soon got his first major role in a blockbuster, playing the villain Shinzon in Star Trek: Nemesis. Shinzon was a imperfect clone of Captain Picard (Patrick Stewart) who was meant to replace the Captain. Whether you like or hate Star Trek, it was still a plum role for a young actor.

Hardy could and should have had more roles in Hollywood after "Nemesis," but instead he went to star in two plays in London in 2003: Blood and Arabia and We’d All Be Kings. His performances were recognized and he won the Evening Standard Award for Outstanding Newcomer, whose previous winners include Chiwetel Ejiofor (Serenity, Children of Men), Jake Gyllenhaal (Donnie Darko, Zodiac) and Andrew Garfield (the future Peter Parker). He also won the Laurence Olivier Award for Most Promising Newcomer.

Following his theatre success, Hardy returned to the screen, having supporting roles in films such as Layer Cake and Marie Antoinette and having major roles in British television such as The Virgin Queen and Stuart: A Life Backwards.

At the end of 2007 Hardy starred in the BBC high profile miniseries Oliver Twist, playing the villainous thug Bill Sykes, starring along side Sophie Okonedo (Hotel Rwanda), Timothy Spall (Peter Pettigrew from Harry Potter) and Edward Fox (Day of the Jacket). This was a role that brought him back into the public consciousness (at least in Britain) and was confirmed when had the major supporting role as Handsome Bob in Guy Ritchie’s RocknRolla. He performed along side Gerald Butler and Idris Elba as part of a three-man crime team, The Wild Bunch, and he easily held his own alongside top actors Mark Strong and Tom Wilkinson.

Hardy’s big film break finally came in 2009 when he starred in the independent British film Bronson. Hardy plays Charles Bronson, Britain’s most infamous prisoner, a muscular man you really wouldn’t want to mess with. Under the stylist direction of Nicolas Winding Refn (The Pusher Trilogy) Hardy injected a lot of comic energy in a very surreal film. He shows the violent mind of this man and mixed drama and comedy in equal measure. His commitment to it was such that he met Bronson in prison and gained 3 stone (42 pounds) in muscle to match his large figure.

With a budget of £150,000 ($228,957) Bronson was a surprise hit in the UK, both commercially and critically, having a Rotten Tomatoes rating of 77%, with excellent reviews from The Times and Roger Ebert.

Hardy has now finally come back to Hollywood, with Christopher Nolan casting him in Inception, playing part of the Inception team with DiCaprio, Gordon-Levitt and Page. Inception is bound to be one of the biggest films of the year, with critical reception so far being very positive. Nolan is known for forming ensemble casts, as well as having a real eye for acting talent. Nolan has made many bold casting choices, such as Robin Williams in Insomnia, in addition to recruiting talented actors like Gary Oldman, Morgan Freeman, Liam Neeson and Heath Ledger in the Batman series. He even noticed Rebecca Hall (The Prestige) before her breakout roles in Vicky Cristina Barcelona and Frost/Nixon.

Hardy is in good company with Inception’s talented cast, and it should be an excellent addition to his filmography.

The immediate future for Hardy is a starring role in Gavin O’Conner’s (Pride and Glory) new movie Warrior. Hardy stars along side Nick Nolte as a father and a son. Warrior follows an alcoholic former boxer that trains his youngest son to fight in a mixed material arts tournament, much to the disapproval of the older son (Joel Edgerton).

Recently Hardy has been cast by George Miller to replace Mel Gibson as Max Rockatansky in Mad Max: Fury Road, set to be released in 2012. Mad Max is of course a popular series, and it is tough for any actor be a replacement for such an iconic character, but Hardy is an extremely talented one who can step up to the challenge. It would be Hardy’s first leading role in a major film and if it goes well it could open more doors for him.

Hardy is a talented and versatile actor. He has commitment to roles by researching for them and willing to extremely alter his appearance. He is like both Robert De Niro and Christian Bale, who went through massive weight changes for roles.
He has shown real commitment to his trade, having success on film, television and in the theatre. He has carefully picked out the roles he plays. Due to his commitment, he can easily work with top directors and I can picture him in award-contending films directed by high profile directors. At 32, he is still young and should have a long career. A good comparison is Viggo Mortensen, who is talented, physically fit, and carefully chooses his roles.


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