A birthday* ode to Tom Hardy
This post was inspired by Meghan O’Keefe who wrote Dear Ryan Gosling… please stop where she implores Ryan Gosling to, well, stop being so Ryan Gosling, because he’s made it so difficult for other men to measure up.
I know how she feels, because Tom Hardy is my benchmark of where I measure men on the awesome spectrum. And here’s why.
Tom Hardy is imperfectly perfect
Tom Hardy shouldn’t be handsome, but he is. His features, taken separately, are not classically good-looking. His nose is a tad too big, his lips a touch too pillowy. His teeth are crooked, and he is covered in tattoos. He is not a tall man, at only 5’8″ or so.
See these? [shows his teeth] These are the reason that I’ll never have a career in Hollywood.
Tom freely admits to having a drug and alcohol problem, and now abstains, having been clean since 2003. He is a man who is not afraid of commitment: he was married to Sarah Ward from 1999-2004, and is in a long-term relationship with Charlotte Riley, who he met during the filming of Wuthering Heights (where Tom first came to my attention). He has a son, Louis, born in 2008, with Rachael Speed. By all accounts, he is a devoted father.
There are two things in my world that are important to me — my family and my work — and I will protect both of them fiercely to the death. So when things about me come out, then you can have it, it’s cool, because it will never touch what’s inside here [taps his chest].
He doesn’t do social media – apart from a quick crash and burn on Twitter – but regularly appears on shows like Chatty Man and Jonathon Ross. He is a Prince’s Trust ambassador, and freely gives his time to help disadvantaged youth, acknowledging that he could have quite easily kept travelling down a disastrous, self-destructive path.
Taken as a whole, though, his imperfections make him perfect.
Tom Hardy is richly resilient
While Tom was born into a rather well-known “arty” family (his father is a writer and his mother Anne is an artist) he did not take the easy route into acting. He was well and truly heading down the path to becoming a juvenile delinquent, and – quite possibly – a petty criminal.
I was ashamed of not having any relevance…not being comfortable in my own skin. Huge ego, very low self-esteem. A lot of anger and rage and fear. It would be, ‘I’m not going to feel frightened so I’ll strangle the biggest guy in the bar and then no one will fuck with me. I’ll get tattoos and people will know I’m not afraid to hurt myself and they’ll be like warning signs’.
Luckily, fate intervened in the way of him a) winning a modelling contract and b) starting acting school (not necessarily in that order).
(He is so young and adorable in this clip, by the way.)
These days – as well as making movies – he can be found making documentaries highlighting the awfulness of poaching, and working with disadvantaged youth via the Prince’s Trust.
Who doesn’t love a self-aware tattooed man, who grows a mean beard and gives back to the community?
Tom Hardy is dangerously deep
It is hard to reconcile the man who plays such depraved characters like Freddie in The Take, Charles Bronson/Michael Peterson in Bronson and Bane in The Dark Knight Rises with the man who volunteers his time with disadvantaged youth. But the contradictions are what make him so fascinating, and such a good actor.
I’m never lost in a character, ever. Everything is absolutely articulated and worked out and there’s no room for error. The only thing there is room for is inspiration in the moment because you’ve done your homework up to that point….
He makes brave, inspired choices with his roles – This Means War aside – and my favourites include him playing Stuart (a homeless alcoholic) in Stuart: A Life Backwards**; a tortured Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights; Elizabeth I’s long-time love Sir Robert Dudley in The Virgin Queen; and kickboxing returned serviceman Tommy Conlon in Warrior and the forger Eames in Inception.
I’m very much looking forward to Mad Max: Fury Road, which comes out later this year. And it’s a pity that Locke only had limited release in Australia (although as luck would have it, it is now being screened at the Mercury, and I will be seeing it on my birthday).
If you look round Hollywood there’s no end of white smiles and six packs. Long lines of beautiful people lining up to be incredible on film. Lots of people who want this part. I have a responsibility to those who didn’t make it to the pitch. [on Mad Max]
So, have a very happy 37th birthday, Tom Hardy. May you grace us with your presence for many more years to come.
* Tom is a Virgo, like me. His birthday is 15 September. He was born in 1977 as Edward Tom Hardy. He is an only child. Not that I’ve stalked him on IMDb or Wikipedia or anything 😉