Tom Hardy (Mad Max: Fury Road) has never been one to shy away from a challenge. Ever since his first role in HBO’s acclaimed miniseries Band of Brothers in 2001 he has cultivated an impressive resume of well known, deeply nuanced characters ranging from the alien clone Shinzon (Star Trek: Nemesis), the fearsome Charles Bronson (Bronson), all the way to the masked supervillain Bane (The Dark Knight Rises). His accent and body mass have varied for each role he takes, and he shows no sign of breaking his streak of impressive performances.
Starring in writer/director Brian Helgeland’s crime thriller Legend, Hardy’s latest challenge is playing the dual role of Reggie and Ronald Kray, London gangsters and identical twins who are very different in their manner and speech. In the the second trailer for the film we see a heavy emphasis placed on Hardy’s performance, as well as the movie’s rock-and-roll shoot-’em-up vibe.
This shorter promo has less exposition than the first full-length trailer, spending most of its time cutting between jokes and good old fashioned gangster brawling, giving it a lighter feel. Set in the 1950s and ’60s, the movie focuses on the twins’ rise to prominence, becoming two of the most infamous gangsters in England. Here Reginald’s mental instabilities are played more for laughs than the deadly problem they presented in the longer teaser.
Sharing the writing credit with Helgeland is John Pearson, whose book “The Profession of Violence: The Rise and Fall of the Kray Twins” the movie is based on. This is Helgeland’s second time directing a film based on real life subject, having helmed 2013’s Jackie Robinson biography 42.
Though Helgeland originally wanted Hardy to play Reginald, it was a smart and interesting choice to have him take on both roles. We know Hardy has the chops to pull off both mentally unstable characters and criminal masterminds with ease, and this twist gives the often-done gangster drama a new feel. Based on the trailers it looks like Legend could go the distance, straddling the fine line between biography, crime thriller and gangster action movie wrapped into one.
Regardless of Helgeland’s resume and Hardy’s acting chops, this is still a risky move. If the body doubles and CGI aren’t well done it could easily undercut the entire movie, making it feel more Parent Trap than The Untouchables. Either way it seems well worth checking it out, if only to see Hardy’s impressive transformation on display in two characters.
Legend arrives in U.S. theaters on October 2nd, 2015.