A lovely interview with Tom Hardy from a Polish paper - translated by me and google. (As always, please do help correct any mistakes!)
What are the dog tags around your neck?
It’s a symbol of the organization Help for Heroes which works with Combat Stress, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Marines. They help people who come back from war mentally scarred, alone, scarred by traumatic memories. I feel guilty that I’m not one of them. I try to at least not turn my back on them.
You recently played strong characters: a boxer and ex-soldier in Warrior, and now in Lawless a brutal man who in the 30s operates an illegal distillery. Also coming back are Schwarzenegger and Stallone. Is the cinema changing the formula of masculinity?
The golden age of metro-sexuality finished at the end of our prosperity. Times are tough, once again strength counts, responsibility, the ability to rise from the fall. You have to appreciate the ideals of the forgotten artistic cinema mainly telling of loss and loneliness. Which, moreover, doesn’t necessarily mean the promotion of macho culture. My character in Lawless is a tough type. He handles his enemies with a hard fist, not fleeing from atrocities. But at the same time he’s a man with a golden heart, with the characteristics of an ideal mother who provides something close to a rough tenderness, concern, care. He puts caution before reckless actions, because courage always goes hand in hand with fear, with wisdom and patience. Maybe someone will say on his grave: “He was a good guy.” Not romantic perhaps? But to me it’s beautiful.
Lawless is a story of the times of prohibition, the mafia gang wars. You have no a sense that it’s already been done?
I’m fascinated by old gangster movies, they have the same elegance as a rough old whiskey. But I don’t want to imitate anything. Jazzmen go back to Mozart and Rachmaninoff and interpret their music in their own way. We were interested in how the 30s would be reflected in the present, like a mirror. Cinema is a continuous recycling of ideas, conventions, styles. I don’t know if we were able to be at par with the ideal, but I do know that Lawless is a bold and brave film. Which is increasingly difficult in a time when Hollywood is mainly proposed stories about superheroes.
You shouldn’t complain. The role of Bane, Batman’s muscular enemy in The Dark Knight Rises, really helped you in your career.
I have faced the legend, I had the chance to work with the best professionals in the industry. Anyway, you accept that Chris Nolan’s film is nothing like the ordinary movie adventure. It has a lot of bitterness, and my Bane is very contemporary. He proves how little it takes to fell any social structure. This is not a simple and schematic antihero.
You prefer to play contemporary characters as in Warrior, dressed in the costume of the past as in Lawless or fantasy as in The Dark Knight Rises?
It doesn’t matter. In every role my imagination is running at full speed. An actor must have the instinct of a police lie detector and the sensitivity of a child. I sometimes feel like I don’t have any skin. The world is constantly attacking me and stimulating me. I watch people’s behavior, but also their tics and obsessions. Stealing the small gestures which I then use when filming. I’m always running a private investigation, trying to understand my character. It doesn’t matter if I’m in a social drama, or in science fiction.
Don’t you feel safer in any genre?
No. You can fuck it all up in any movie. As filmmakers we are trying to fake it in order to seem credible. We tell a noble lie, and it is never safe. Some viewers believe part of the the hand waving, some can’t find the time to see our work. It’s difficult, it’s just art.
Do you believe in its power?
Too much. When I see something strong in the cinema I’m like a fully charged battery. But when I am acting, I don’t let myself slack off. But do we have to be so serious? Let’s not go overboard. I’m not a sufferer, just an actor. Work on a film can also be a great pastime. And I like to enjoy life to the full.