Tom Hardy has assembled one of the most eclectic resumes of his generation’s Hollywood stars. He’s played roles in films like Layer Cake, Black Hawk Down, Star Trek: Nemesis, and Marie Antoinette, as well as more recent tentpoles like InceptionThe Dark Knight Rises and Mad Max: Fury Road and smaller, dramatic fare like The Drop and Locke. Hardy will appear alongside Leonardo DiCaprio in Alejandro González Iñárritu Birdman follow-up The Revenant in late 2015, so his star is far from done rising yet.

Before that, though, Hardy will play both halves of a set of twins in writer/director Brian Helgeland’s Legend. The gangster thriller from Helgeland (whose last film was the acclaimed Jackie Robinson biopic 42) follows Ronald and Reginald Kray (Hardy) as they terrorize London and wrestle with psychological torment during the 1950s and 60s. Emily Browning, Christopher Eccleston, and Chazz Palminteri show up in supporting roles.

Yahoo Movies has unveiled the first trailer for Legend and spoke to Helgeland about the decision to cast Hardy as both of the Kray twins. Helgeland revealed that he originally wanted two different actors to play the twins, but he met with Hardy about the character of Reginald and Hardy said he would only do it if he could play both; Helgeland agreed instantly. As the director told Yahoo!:

[Tom Hardy is] really a true actor. He’s looking for the part to play. Most movie stars have a persona. You get the same guy over and over again, it’s a comfort zone. They figure out what it is their audience wants to see out of them and deliver it. That’s what makes a movie star in a lot of ways. Tom, I don’t think, has an interest in that. He’s all about the character. There are these wild swings in what he does. He’s very much a chameleon, never plays the same guy twice. That makes him hard to pin down. … Even when he’s a protagonist, it’s a character performance he’s looking to do, really.

Reginald, the role Helgeland initially wanted Hardy to play, is the rougher-edged half of the duo, while Ron is more of a “classic leading man movie star,” Helgeland says. In the trailer, both men kick and punch quite a bit, and in one memorable sequence, they fight each other. Hardy’s stunt double played one Klay brother while Hardy was playing the other on set.

legend poster tom hardy Legend Trailer: Tom Hardy Sees Double

Movies centered around twins played by the same actor can have an element of gimmickry (e.g. they seek to impress with the cinematic wizardry of making one man into two). However, if any actor can pull off that duality in a way that transcends superficiality, it’s Hardy – who has quietly been pulling off some of the great leading man performances of the last five years. In Locke, he essentially delivered an eighty-minute monologue while driving a car. In The Dark Knight Rises, he sacrificed his full range of emotional expressions and strapped a creepy mask to his face for the entire blockbuster. He’s willing to take chances and stretch himself to his limits.

Whether Legend‘s gangster story will rise to the level of Hardy’s ambition and talent remains to be seen; after all, it’s not as though gangster biopics are exactly in short supply at the cinema (director Scott Cooper’s Black Mass, for instance, will open in theaters but a matter of weeks before Legend does). Regardless, this film has the potential to take a well-worn genre in a new and exciting direction.

Legend arrives in U.S. theaters on October 2nd, 2015.

Source: Yahoo Movies

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