We remember him from „Bronson” and „Inception”, and soon we’re going to see him in „Tinker, Tailor, Soldier. Spy”. It was him who got the part of Bane in Christopher Nolan’s “Dark Knight Rises” and who got asked by George Miller to take part in the new “Mad Max”. The actor talks with Yola Czaderska-Hayek about his upcoming projects, which include a boxing movie “Warrior”.
YC-H: In Tomas Alfredson’s „Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy” you play the part of a so called “scalphunter”, a guy, who seduces pretty girls and prepares them to work for the British secret service. You’re the right man in the right place!
TH: Thanks (laughs), but I think you’re exaggerating a bit.
YC-H: Why? Don’t tell me girls don’t fall for you!
TH: Well, actually, it depends. Everything depends on the movie I currently star in and on what the make-up artists make of me. When I was starring in “Bronson”, people were afraid to approach me on the street. Do you remember how I looked back then? Built up, bald and with this huge moustache. My ex-girlfriend (Rachael Speed- YC-H) was pregnant at the time. Whenever we went to take a walk together, we looked rather strange (laughs). Thanks to the moustache women started treating me like some sort of a good uncle, someone like Santa Claus. It wasn’t likely that someone would fall for me. But when I played a part of a homeless man (in the movie “Stuart. A Life Backwards” – YC-H), people started to get away from me, as if they somehow knew that something was wrong with me. It was very similar with the part of Tommy in “Warrior” – my family and friends kept asking me about why I look so bad. And I thought that my looks was the only thing I didn’t have to worry about, because it was another movie I had to train really hard for!
It’s just that Tommy is a very sad character. I think his sadness influenced me somehow.
YC-H: And now you’re gaining weight again. You play “Bane” in Christopher Nolan’s new movie, “The Dark Knight Rises”.
TH: Yup. Another built up man. A brutal, cruel monster, who doesn’t feel pain. I think it’s another character I took something from. Not so long ago my fiancée (Charlotte Riley, to whom Tom confessed last year – YC-H) hit me with her elbow during the night, because my snoring was too loud. It’s impossible not to snore if you spend so much time in the gym! She hit me, full force, and I didn’t even feel anything! I woke up and asked absent-mindedly, “What, do I need to check on the baby?” (Hardy is now raising a 3 year old son, Louis – YC-H). Incredible. When a man has so many grown muscles, it’s really impossible to feel pain. But I have to confess something to you – I’d love to go back to my previous weight. I weigh 15 kilos more! I look in the mirror and it’s not me I’m looking at!
YC-H: Did you become aggressive, like Bane?
TH: No, being aggresive is something I have no idea of. I’m not one of those who like to fight, I’m one of those who sit at home and watch “Sam the Firefighter” with their kids.
YC-H: It’s hard to believe when one looks at you in „Bronson”.
TH: But this is what acting is all about! I think that I’m a pretty good observer and I can recreate someone’s behavior pretty well. That’s exactly what I did in “Bronson”, starring as this guy in prison. It was about becoming someone else, to disappear beneath the part you play. By the way, it’s a bizarre movie, impossible to define, it’s rather a collection ofscenes than a consistent story. But I like it very much, it’s thanks to that movie that I ever got noticed in America. I started getting many offers, but the strange thing was, it was mostly parts of aggressive, kinda crazy guys (laughs). But I’m not complaining. It’s always a challenge.
YC-H: And then you stole everyone’s show in „Inception”.
TH: It’s mainly thanks to Christopher Nolan. He trusted me, invested money in me and placed me in a gigantic, extremely important project. And now, with his “Dark Knight Rises”, he’s doing it again. I’m very grateful for this. This man is a pure genius and if he asks me for anything regarding the movie, I’ll do it without hesitation. In a second! It’s thanks to him that I am where I am now. I will always remember that.
YC-H: Batman fans have great expectations about Bane’s character. I thinkthat soon you’re going to be under far more pressure as Mad Max.
TH: Don’t even tell me about it! The shooting hasn’t even started yet and I already can’t stop thinking about it. Mad Max, just like Batman, is a character known to everyone. I also know that I can push it too far, I have to stay with the image from previous parts. The pressure is incredible.Fortunately, the director of “Fury Road” is George Miller, who shot all the other parts, so if I have any doubts there will be someone to ask. We’re starting in April 2012, but we don’t know yet what it’s going to be like, since some complications appeared. In Australia, as you know, there havebeen massive rainfalls this year. For nature and the environment it’s perfect, for us – not so much. Because all of the deserts, those beautiful, apocalyptic landscapes, suddenly disappeared, and we have beautiful, flowery meadows instead. Can you imagine “Mad Max” on a meadow?
YC-H: Not a chance.
TH: Exactly. That’s why George and the producers have to decide what’s next. For now it really meant a world to them to shoot “Fury Road” in Australia, since that’s where all of the previous parts came to be. But if they don’t find adequate landscapes, I have no idea what we’re going to do. And we’re running out of time.
YC-H: Did you get a chance to talk to Mel Gibson about „Mad Max”?
TH: Unfortunately not. We never met. I regret that a lot. I wonder what he would tell me.
YC-H: I also wanted to ask you about your movie from this year, „Warrior”, which had not screened in Poland yet. What is the story about?
TH: I mentioned this movie before. It’s a story of two brothers, who have different reasons to independently take part in a tournament of mixed fighting styles. And it’s not only that they have to face each other on the ring, they also have to overcome the conflicts which divide them.
YC-H: Mixed fighting styles? And here you were talking how much you hate fighting.
TH: Because it’s true! I don’t have a warrior’s nature, I’m not one of the people who fight for no apparent reasons. And Tommy, the movie character, is a man who has fighting in his blood. He gets on the ring and smashes his opponent to pieces in a few swift movements. At the beginning the producers probably didn’t see me in this part and it’s no surprise to me. But I nagged them for a long time and they finally said yes. Also, Gavin (O’Connor, the director – YC-H) stood behind me all this time. He believed that I could turn into a guy who values fight the most in his life.
YC-H: What did your preparations for this role look like?
TH: Together with Joel (Edgerton – YC-H), who plays my brother, we started the training two months before the shooting was supposed to start. Gavin, apart from us being reliable and realistic, wanted us to understand what exactly mixed fighting styles are. Because this is a really infamous sport, you know. For example, in France it got banned for being too bloody and brutal. At the same time Gavin wanted us to show a different face of this phenomenon. He wanted us to focus on exactly how hard the contestants train, how long they have to work, how many sacrifices they have to make. You need to be extremely devoted to this discipline and work all the time. Mixed fighting styles is not about just hitting one another, there’s an element of art in in. In other words, we wanted to show this sport as… sport. No more, no less.
YC-H: Did you manage to overcome your aversion to fighting?
TH: It was the least of my problems! It was harder for me though, since Joel is a born sportsman, he has a black belt in karate, and at the same time I only have a golden medal in sitting on a couch and playing X-box (laughs). Going to the shop for milk or walking the dog was the peak of my physical activities. And then, suddenly, I had to pull myself together and pretend to be a sportsman. Our day looked more or less like this: we stood up early in the morning and went to Eric Hibler’s school (a prestige place in Pittsburgh, where one can train mixed fighting styles – YC-H). We trained boxing there for two hours. After that two hours of muay thai. Then, two hour of jiu-jitsu or an aerobic training. And then two hours in a gym. Seven days a week!
YC-D: One could die, actually.
TH: Exactly! But every cloud has a silver lining. I could eat whatever I wanted, no restrictions. The trainer said: “Tom, the most important thing for you is to gain weight. So you can eat whatever you want, whenever you want. You’re going to gain weight, of course. So stand in front of the mirror, look at your fat belly and say to yourself – this baby has to go! So you start running” (laughs). As if the normal training was not enough! So that’s how my getting rid of the carbohydrates started. Then, there was choreography of the fights which occur in the second half of the movie, and of course the most important, final duel. But the hardest thing was definitely the language!
TH: The sportsmen language. Contestants, who take part in mixed style fighting, have their own language and come up with their own names for every move and every hit: with an elbow, with you knee, with your foot… Joel and me had to learn every single one of those names, so that we could use it freely in the movie and so that it didn’t sound fake. We had to consider the fact that not only normal people, but also mixed styles fighting fans would come to see the movie. We didn’t want to disappoint them. We really wanted them to be satisfied with the way their favorite sport was portrayed on the screen.
YH-C: You said earlier that Tommy’s sadness influenced you a bit. Can you tell us what that meant?
TH: Tommy is a very traumatic character. Not only in the army, but also in the family many bad things happened to him. He can’t negotiate with his father. He can’t forgive him the things he did because of alcohol. When you have such a part to play, of course you do realize that it’s only a part, but some of this depression really stays in a man. Besides, if one of the topics in the movie is alcohol and a dysfunctional family, one can’t help but remember your own experiences (Tom Hardy fought with addiction to drugs and alcohol, he went to rehab and is clean since 2003 – YC-H). You remember things you would prefer to forget about. Mentally “Warrior” was as exhausting for me as it was physically.
YC-H: But you made it, and that’s what matters the most.
TH: Well, I didn’t succeed with everything. I didn’t manage to master all of the kicks, probably my legs are made out of wood. During sparrings I had to use my fists mostly. Unfortunately, I’m not Natalie Portman, they wouldn’t have wanted me in “The Black Swan” (laughs).
YC-H: You wouldn’t dance cancan either.
TH: I can’t hide it. But it’s a shame, really, because one of my dreams is to star in a musical. Something light, nice, with lots of dance and singing. I’m dreaming of a new, contemporary version of “Guys and Dolls”. If I ever get tired of all this weight-gaining and weight-losing, I’ll do everything I can to play in something like this.
YC-H: True that! How long can you play the tough guy?
TH: I’ll tell you something, and it’s a secret for now. Together with my father we’re working on a project (Edward Hardy, Tom’s father, is a writer – YC-H). Maybe we’ll be able to do something for TV. It would be a costume story set in the 19th century. Something like “Sherlock Holmes”, but closer to Bill Sikes (a famous bad guy from “Oliver Twist” – YC-H). Besides, my father always complains that I left the theater for movies. I don’t mind starring on stage, but I don’t have the time now. So many roles wait to be played! Entire Shakespeare, Chechov… I hope I’ll be able to fulfill my plans one day. But for now, I’m sitting in Hollywood and playing tough guys, which is fine too. I’m not complaining.