Tom Hardy isn’t a household name, but he will likely be one by the end of 2012. In a series of five films (one of which hasn’t been released yet) from 2010 through this year, the British actor has quickly established a name for himself. This eclectic mix of films show Hardy in a variety of roles – and are quickly propelling him onto on the Hollywood A-list.
Prior to these movies, Hardy had been working in the business for a number of years and earned strong reviews for his work in earlier films, including 2008’s Bronson. But it wasn’t until 2010 that a little film by Christopher Nolan put Hardy in front of a huge international audience and put him in line to become a member of the A-list.
“You musn’t be afraid to dream a little bigger, darling,” Eames (Hardy) says in the 2010 blockbuster, Inception. It seems that Hardy has followed his character’s advice of dreaming big with his career. Since the release of this story about thieves who break into the unconscious mind, Hardy has made a series of strong career choices.
Hardy impressed many for his work in Inception because he stood out in this cast of high-profile Oscar nominees and winners. The film stars Oscar winners Marion Cotillard and Michael Caine, alongside Academy Award nominees like Leonardo DiCaprio and Ellen Page. Lesser actors might not have been able to perform with so many well-known actors around but Hardy steals a few scenes and seems to having a blast along the way.
In the underappreciated gem Warrior, Hardy stars as Tommy Conlon, a military veteran who must eventually come to grips with his family. Conlon is an MMA fighter who has to face off with his estranged brother Brendan (Joel Edgerton) in the ring. A championship battle pits the brothers against each other in this emotional and compelling drama.
Hardy’s physically demanding role required solid acting, especially in scenes he shares with veteran thespian Nick Nolte – who was nominated for an Oscar for his performance. Yet Hardy pulled it off, proving once again that he has the talent to go a long way in Hollywood.
Although I’ve seen Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy twice, I still don’t completely understand it. What I do know is that this complicated and acclaimed Gary Oldman drama is worth seeing. As Ricki Tarr, an agent that helps guide George Smiley (Oldman) to the mole in a secret British intelligence unit, Hardy again shows his vulnerable side.
This intelligent drama was never going to have the mass appeal of Inception or Warrior. Instead, it’s a character-driven story filled with moments of great subtlety and quiet tension. Again, Hardy showed off his acting skills in a small but interesting role.
This weekend, Tom Hardy stars alongside Chris Pine and Reese Witherspoon in the new comedy, This Means War. Although many critics disliked the film (we gave it a middle of the road score), it’s a perfect vehicle for Pine and Hardy to show off their comedic sides. As one of two men fighting over a woman, Hardy pokes fun at his own image as a tough guy, and seems to be having a good time doing so.
Plus, to be one of three major stars on the movie poster – alongside A-listers like Witherspoon and Pine (Star Trek) – helps to establish Hardy as a big movie star himself. Even though ‘War’ will get more people to appreciate Hardy, it likely won’t be this film that makes him a household name.
The Dark Knight Rises, the eagerly-anticipated conclusion to director Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy, will likely make Mr. Hardy a household name. Nolan previously directed the actor in Inception but it looks like Hardy will have a much much bigger role in TDKR, which finds his character facing off against the Caped Crusader.
Anticipation for the final film in this series is high, and Hardy’s performance is likely to be scrutinized in great detail. Remember that the last person to play a villain in a Nolan Batman film was Heath Ledger, who won a posthumous Oscar for his performance. If this movie is nearly as good (or, dare we say, better) as The Dark Knight, Hardy could have his most high-profile and powerful performances to date.
So far, we’ve noted five films that are helping Hardy make it onto the Hollywood A-list. From smaller films like Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy to big blockbusters like Inception to character-driven dramas like Warrior, Hardy has established himself as a strong and compelling actor who is worthy of Hollywood’s attention.
Hardy will also be starring in a film called Wettest County (pictured left), which arrives in theaters late this year with a cast of well-known actors like Shia LaBeouf, Gary Oldman and Jessica Chastain. Although that movie hasn’t received a lot of publicity thus far, it will be interesting to see where Hardy takes his career from here. I, for one, cannot wait.