Edward Thomas “Tom” Hardy (born 15 September 1977) is an English actor of stage and screen. He is best known for playing the title character in the 2009 film Bronson, and for his roles in the films Star Trek Nemesis, RocknRolla, and Inception. He has recently been cast in the Christopher Nolan film The Dark Knight Rises as Bane.
Hardy, an only child, was born in Hammersmith and raised in East Sheen, London. His mother, Anne, is an artist and painter of Irish Catholic descent, and his father, Edward “Chips” Hardy, is an ad and comedy writer and novelist. Hardy studied at Reeds School, Tower House School, Richmond Drama School, and subsequently at the Drama Centre London.
He began his career in war dramas, winning the part of United States Army Private John Janovec in the award-winning HBO and BBC miniseries Band of Brothers. Casting director Gary Davy,who gave Tom the role, praised the young actor: “He’s got amazing edge, and masculinity, but that’s equalled by his vulnerability. And that, you can’t buy. You either have it or you don’t. I just think he’s a star.”
Tom enjoyed his first experience acting in a large production, saying “Band of Brothers” is the perfect role for a first start. I would never have dreamed of such an opportunity. I filmed two episodes at the end of the series. I had never worked on the screen before, I mainly trained in the theater. “Band of Brothers” has not only covered a genuine shooting film but also a big production. Big money was at stake, there were numerous extras, incredible scenery. I felt a great pressure on my shoulders and I knew I had to give the best of myself. I was a little lost but I could not afford to panic. (Laughs) I had to get back on track. It was my job. I was very lucky.”
He made his feature film debut shortly after in Ridley Scott’s 2001 war thriller Black Hawk Down, in which he insisted on performing all of his own stunts, including one where he was set on fire.
In 2002, Hardy appeared in the independent film Dot the i, sharing the bill with Gael García Bernal. He then travelled to North Africa for Simon: An English Legionnaire, a story of the French Foreign Legion.
In the same year, he gained some heavy international exposure as the Reman Praetor Shinzon, a cloneof USS Enterprise Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) in Star Trek Nemesis. He returned to England to feature in the 2003 thriller LD 50 Lethal Dose.
Hardy was awarded the 2003 London Evening Standard Theatre Award for Outstanding Newcomer for his performances in Blood and In Arabia, We’d All Be Kings performed at the Royal Court Theatre and Hampstead Theatre. He was also nominated for a 2004 Laurence Olivier Award for Most Promising Newcomer of 2003 in a Society of London Theatre Affiliate for his performance in the aforementioned production of In Arabia, We’d All Be Kings.
Hardy appeared in the 2005 BBC miniseries The Virgin Queen as Robert Dudley, a childhood friend of Elizabeth I. The miniseries portrays them as having a platonic, though highly romantic, affair throughout her reign over England during the 16th century. Hardy featured in the Richard Fell adaptation of the 1960s sci-fi series A for Andromeda, on BBC Four.
In 2007, Tom played Dorimant in The National Theatre’s production of The Man of Mode, following up with a turn as Bill Sykes in theBBC miniseries Oliver Twist, and as a handyman with a mysterious past in Channel 4′s Cape Wrath.
Also in 2007, he appeared in the critically acclaimed BBC Two drama based on a true story - Stuart: A Life Backwards. Tom played the lead role of Stuart Shorter, a homeless man who had been subjected to years of abuse and whose death was possibly suicide. He was nominated in the Best Actor category of the 2008 BAFTAS for his heartbreaking portrayal. During the filming of Stuart, Tom met Stuart: A Life Backwards author Alexander Masters and became patron of the Cambridge charity he founded, FLACK, an organization devoted to helping homeless people rebuild their lives.
Tom and girlfriend Rachael Speed welcomed their son, Louis Thomas Hardy in April of 2008. In September 2008, he appeared in director Guy Ritchie’s London gangster film, RocknRolla as Handsome Bob, getaway driver for “The Wild Bunch,” a gang led by Gerard Butler as One Two, who Handsome Bob also happens to be in love with. Ironically, Tom did not yet know how to drive when the movie was being filmed. The Audi company, whose vehicles are featured in the film, taught Tom how to drive after filming wrapped and even gave him an Audi of his own. He later shot an episode of “Audi Drivetime,” which was featured on the company’s website.
In early 2009, Hardy starred in the film Bronson, about the real-life prisoner Charles Bronson, who has spent most of his adult life in solitary confinement. Tom underwent an incredible physical transformation to play the role, gaining 42 pounds of muscle. Tom received critical acclaim for his performance and was given the Best Actor honor at the British Independent Film Awards of that year.
In June 2009, Hardy starred in the Martina Cole written 4-part TV drama The Take on Sky One as Freddie Jackson, a violent drug and alcohol fueled gangster, opposite actress Charlotte Riley. The role gained him a Best Actor nomination at the 2009 Crime Thriller Awards.
In August 2009, he appeared in Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights on ITV1, playing the part of Heathcliff, the classic character who falls in love with his childhood friend Cathy (played by Charlotte Riley), “the love that destroyed everything it touched”. Telegraph TV critic John Preston praised the adaptation, saying “I doubt if you’ll see a better, and a more introspective, Heathcliff than Tom Hardy’s, or indeed a more affecting Cathy than Charlotte Riley’s.”
In early 2010, Hardy starred in The Long Red Road at the Goodman Theatre in Chicago. The play was written by Brett C Leonard and directed by Philip Seymour Hoffman. Hardy received excellent reviews for his portrayal of Sam, an alcoholic trying to drink away his past.
In early 2010, Tom played the lead role of Tommy Conlon, son of Paddy Conlon (Nick Nolte) in the film Warrior, about a mixed martial artist fighting in a tournament to redeem himself after going to prison. Tom was involved in intensive training with MMA fighter Nate Marqhardt to prepare for the role. He started filming of Inception shortly after, still suffering cracked ribs, a broken toe and a torn ligament in his hand. The film is slated for a September 2011 release.
In July of 2010, Tom starred as Eames in Christopher Nolan’s sci-fi action thriller Inception. The film received widespread critical acclaim and Tom was praised for his powerful yet nuanced performance. Director Christopher Nolan was quoted as saying: “Tom is an actor who can absolutely jump into the skin of a character and inhabit a role, and he did that very effectively with Eames. He saw the potential of the character right away and brought a wonderfully cheeky quality to his performance, which I was delighted to see come through.”
Hardy will star as Ricki Tarr in the 2012 adaptation of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, also featuring Gary Oldman and Ralph Fiennes.
Hardy has signed on to play the villian Bane in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises. Director Chris Nolan issued this statement via press release: “I am delighted to be working with Tom again and excited to watch him bring to life our new interpretation of one of Batman’s most formidable enemies.” Production for the film is slated to begin in May 2011.
Hardy married Sarah Ward in 1999, but they divorced some time later. He has a son, Louis Thomas Hardy (born 8 April 2008), with ex-girlfriend Rachael Speed. In July 2010, Hardy proposed to actress Charlotte Riley after a year of dating.
Hardy also battled alcoholism and addiction in his early- to mid-twenties, but has been sober since 2003. He was appointed ambassador for The Prince’s Trust in May 2010, a UK charity that helps disadvantaged people aged 14 to 30 overcome barriers and move into work, education or training.
Tom has hosted acting workshops and made television appearances supporting the charity, and says “I became an Ambassador for The Prince’s Trust to show my support for its work with tens of thousands of disadvantaged young people every year. It’s so important to me that they get the life-changing second chance that I had.”