Known for his chameleon-like ability to adapt himself to any role, actor Tom Hardy has admirably managed to find a place beside fellow Brits Christian Bale and Daniel Day-Lewis, who are known for their similar approach and dedication to acting.
For Hardy, the fame didn't happen overnight; it was the result of 17 years of hard work. Before making his debut in 'Black Hawk Down', Hardy appeared in the series 'Band of Brothers', which fetched him a small part in the Ridley Scott film. At one point seen only in small-budget indie films -- usually in tough-guy roles or psychopaths -- Hardy is now recognisable enough to lure audiences to tentpole blockbusters featuring him in leading roles.
Given his remarkable range, it's no wonder why a studio like Marvel would take him aboard something like 'Venom', the independent Spider-Man spin-off. Regardless of the quality of the script, there is a minimum guarantee that comes with any Tom Hardy movie, and that's the actor himself. His mere presence has, on more than one occasion, made a weak movie watchable. Before 'Venom' hits theatres tomorrow, here's a look at his five best performances so far.
Darkly hysterical and deliriously violent, Bronson showcased Hardy in arguably his first breakout role. A biopic of 'Britain's most violent criminal' Charles Bronson a.k.a Michael Petersen, the film saw Hardy at his most unrestrained, doing things that most actors wouldn't dare. Directed by Nicolas Winding Refn, the film is a fascinating meditation on violence and gives us a peek into the mind of a troubled criminal who hops from one prison to another owing to his multiple rage-fueled episodes. On seeing Hardy's portrayal, the real Charles Bronson, who was initially hesitant about any actor portraying him, was so impressed that he is said to have remarked, "Tom looks more like me than I look like me."
Perhaps the most challenging entry in Hardy's filmography, Steven Knight's Locke had the actor carrying the entire film on his shoulders, playing a construction foreman who takes a road-trip from Birmingham to London. Throughout the film, we are stuck with Locke and no one else, watching him display a diverse range of emotions from guilt to sadness to anger. Though a few other actors were part of the film, they are only present as voices coming from Locke's cellphone. Their revelatory conversations with Locke -- and the imaginary ones Locke has with himself and his dead father -- give the viewer a fairly good picture of the man's life.
The Take (2009)
A nasty, mean and appropriately vicious 4-episode long crime series, The Take is Britain's answer to Martin Scorsese's Goodfellas. Set in the 1980s, the series starred Hardy as Freddie Jackson, a brutish and menacing thug straight out of prison. With his devilish gaze and snaky demeanour, Hardy is a terrifying presence on screen. It's worth noting that despite playing a despicable character, there are moments where the character's softer side stands out in uncomfortable contrast to his hard side, and this is not an easy thing to pull off.
The Dark Knight Rises (2012)
It was a given that Heath Ledger's benchmark-setting portrayal of The Joker would be a hard act to follow. But then it was quite obvious that director Christopher Nolan wasn't looking for anyone to top the Joker. And from Hardy's performance as Bane, one can see that it didn't carry the weight of the audience's expectations. The actor held his own, delivering a three-dimensional villain who was capable of overshadowing Batman, although not quite to the extent as the Joker. In spite of having on a mask that obscured most of his face and the occasionally indecipherable voice, Hardy used his expressive eyes and incredible body language to great effect. Bane is, undoubtedly, one of cinema's most memorable villains.
I think it's only fitting that one discusses Hardy's supporting turn in Guy Ritchie's return-to-form crime caper after mentioning Bane because it was this role that gave Nolan the impetus to cast Hardy in that role. Hardy played Handsome Bob, a closeted gay who, in spite of being part of a comedy, is not associated with the usual gay cliches. Among the film's stand-out moments is Gerard Butler's hilarious reaction to Handsome Bob's revelation and the subsequent taunts by Butler's buddies.
Peaky Blinders (2013-present)
The Drop (2014)