by Remy Carreiro
(To truly respect this piece, I need the reader to forget This Means War is about to be in theaters. He made ONE cheesy romantic comedy, and we have to immediately forgive him and pretend it didn’t happen or this piece won’t work. Please, trust us. He is a brilliant actor. We can prove it to you.)
Christopher Nolan is a casting genius. Some people may argue that, some may agree. But I am not leaving it open for debate. I am TELLING you. When he cast Heath Ledger as The Joker, you could hear the collective sighs of fanboys all the world over, groaning in disapproval. I can say that because I was one of them. But upon viewing that film, and moreover, that character, I was more floored than I had been in some time by his performance. He scared me. He unsettled me. He intrigued me. He effortlessly swallowed the scenery in every moment he was in. Actors disappeared around him. And after that film, everyone was talking about his run as The Joker. Christopher Nolan knew this would be a result of this performance. He had written his Joker that way. He had us in his hand the whole time.
How many of us went and rented more old Heath Ledger movies after the film? I did, and not because he had passed away, but because he had shown the acting chops of a master. A character so real, the actor beneath all but vanished. Like I said before, Christopher Nolan knew what he was doing. He plays his audiences in the same way Stanley Kubrick would. Every move is intentional. Every color is in place for a reason. So expect Tom Hardy, who is playing Bane (*Spoiler* The Batman back-breaker) to blow up in 2012. While some are complaining ahead of time that his audio performance as Bane is muddled and hard to understand in certain scenes, remember, Christopher Nolan was probably very much aware of this long before you. I decided to check out some of Tom Hardy’s films BEFORE the movie dropped, so I would know what I had in store. And truthfully, it took two films and I was an immediate fan. This guy is unbelievable. And as the result of reading some interviews he has done, he may be bat-shit-crazy too. But as we all know, it is the tortured geniuses who tend to give the best performances. Be prepared to add Tom Hardy to your list.
Christopher Nolan apparently already knew Hardy was something special, and did what he does with all his stars. He gave Tom a test run as Eames in his critically acclaimed, but widely misunderstood hit, Inception. The character was well played, but not remarkable. Think of it as his own Inception move. He placed Tom Hardy into our subconscious, before pulling that subconscious to the forefront for Dark Knight Rises. Again, Nolan is a genius, but I digress. The piece is about Tom Hardy, dammit.
So for me, it took two roles for me to realize this guy was quite good at his craft. The first being his role as Handsome Bob in the Guy Ritchie film RockNRolla. The film was a fun, albeit familiar Guy Ritchie heist-gone-wrong movie, but Hardy owned the flick with his subplot about being a gay gangster. He portrayed a character that could have been played solely for laughs as a somewhat troubled and tortured young man (with genuine feelings for his best friend, played wonderfully by Gerard Butler). A man torn between the violent, patriarchal world he knows, and the true feelings he has in his heart. His interactions with Butler are a blast to watch, and again, he plays it in a classy and subtle manner. He is not the “GAY GANGSTER” in this film. He plays a badass gangster who just happens to be gay. Playing both vulnerable AND tough can be incredibly tricky to convey, but Hardy nails it. He goes subtle. And to his credit, it works.
As a result of the role, the up and coming actor faced a slew of homosexual rumors offscreen, and to his credit, handled them with grace, I think. Well, to tell you the truth, I can’t really tell you how he reacted because it was different from what other actors would say. When asked by interviewer Simon Babe for ‘Attitude’ magazine if he had ever had a sexual relationship with a man, Hardy responded ”I’m an actor for f***s sake. I’m an artist. I have played with anything and anyone, but I’m not into men sexually. I love the form and the physicality, but the gay sex does nothing for me.” Alright, let’s both take time to process that quote together for a second. So what he said, I think, in different words is: “I have literally fooled around with everything ever, just to kind of get a feel for it as an actor. I had sex with dudes, but I didn’t love it. Don’t get me wrong though, because I like looking at buff guys, but I don’t like sexing them. “ Wow, that is a relatively brave answer for an actor who is about to explode in Hollywood (weird pun unintended). It was a brave and honest answer. A real movie fan cares nothing about someone’s gender or race or sexual preference. We like good performances. And Tom Hardy is already delivering that. Also, he seems to give few f***s about what other people think.
In Hollywood, that kind of attitude can seem forced and doesn’t always work. With Tom though, it seems genuine. For that reason I really think it works. We need more badasses in Hollywood. And genuine badasses. Not those Jason Statham ones. You know the kind, they PLAY badass really well, but when you see them in the street or see them on TMZ they are all mousey and insecure? Yeah, I hate that kind. Hardy might be crazy. Hardy might be badass. I am ok with it. Frankly, I encourage it.