Despite his reputation for fights on set, his battles with addiction, his maddening attempts at doing accents, and his quizzical penchant for mumbling every line he speaks, Tom Hardy has emerged in the last decade as one of the most intriguing figures in modern Hollywood. He has leading man good looks but an omnipresent sense of danger about him that he wears like a second skin or a well-worn leather jacket.
His tendency to be cast as intense, brooding characters would have branded him a "heavy" in the Golden Era of Hollywood, but his incredibly authentic vibe in interviews combats that image, showcasing a man with a razor sharp sense of humor and an observant wit. As he shows his more comical side in films like Venom, we see his range expand. In fact, Hardy has all the makings of a British Marlon Brando if he sticks it out long enough. So, here are ten interesting things you didn't know about Tom Hardy.
10 HE WAS ONCE A MODEL
In some ways, it's difficult to imagine the molten Hardy as a male model, but Hardy was much more slight of build in 1998 when he entered a modeling competition on Britain's Channel 4 program The Big Breakfast. He was just 21 at the time, and as he strut his stuff down the catwalk, the presenter read off his interests: drama, Eddie Izzard, and Gary Oldman, who he would star opposite years later in Child 44.
But things were picking up for Hardy, and even though he signed with a modeling agency, he would never make modeling his full time career. Shortly after that he appeared in Star Trek: Nemesis, which earned him international recognition.
9 THERE'S A REASON FOR THAT FINGER
If you watch closely in films, you might notice something peculiar about the pinky finger on Tom Hardy's right hand. It's more prominent in interviews, where he gesticulates against a plain backdrop. It perpetually curls inward, and the actor can never straighten it out.
This is due to an occasion when Hardy stabbed a knife into a chopping board, severing a tendon in that finger. He had to have three separate operations to allow him to be able to close the pinky finger into a fist along with the rest of his digits, but he'll never be able to straighten it.
8 HE'S GOT TIES TO THE ROYAL FAMILY
For contributing to the dramatic arts and through continued performances elevating its integrity, Tom Hardy has been made a CBE by Prince Charles. That small acronym stands for the lengthy and lofty title, Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire.
Many of the UK's leading thespians have been awarded the honor, but it's still no less indicative of Hardy's impressive filmography. In excess of being a CBE, he's also an ambassador to the Prince's Trust, a charity which puts focus on at-risk youth.
7 THE BEST SCENE IN VENOM HE AD-LIBBED
Tom Hardy has become known for playing tough characters with a thirst for brawling and violence. His roles in films like Legend, Warrior, Bronson, and Lawless have cemented him as an actor with a very physical presence, who isn't afraid to do his own stunts and get dirty.
This came in handy when he starred as the anti-hero in Venom, but not in the way you might think! The "Lobster Tank Scene" has become famous in the film because Eddie Brock plunges into a tank of live lobsters and just starts eating them. Originally Hardy was just supposed to burst into the restaurant and cause a scene, but when he saw the set had a lobster tank, he embraced his comedic side and said, "I'm going in" and it was written into the script!
6 LEONARDO DICAPRIO INSPIRED ONE OF HIS TATTOOS
Tom Hardy has been getting inked for over 20 years. Starting at the tender age of 15 with a fighting Leprechaun to celebrate his Irish heritage, he's been steadily growing his collection of tattoos, often getting them to commemorate a film role. While filming The Revenant with Leonardo DiCaprio, he lost a bet to his co-star and was forced to get a tattoo for his punishment.
A man of his word, the ink reads "Leo Knows All". Hardy's tattoos have made him a walking scrapbook, showcasing every meaningful moment in his life (whether good or bad), as well as his varied career. He even has his agent's name tattooed on his left arm.
5 HE WAS ALMOST A RAPPER
Prior to his acting career taking off, Hardy aspired to be a rapper. He went as far as getting a record contract and representation by the same management team that handled the Fugees, but his career in music never really took off. Despite working with Grammy winning production teams like Gordon Williams and Warren Riker, nothing so much as a demo LP has surfaced.
Perhaps it's just as well, because we all saw how successful Joaquin Phoenix's rapping career was. Many actors have the talent to dabble in multiple artistic areas, but others might see diminishing returns once their focus was taken away from anything but their film career.
4 HE ALMOST PUNCHED SHIA LABEOUF IN THE FACE
Over the years, Tom Hardy has developed a reputation for being a hot-head on the set of his films. Whether due to his exacting standards as an actor, the irascibility of his personality, or irritation with his co-stars, he's been known to blow his stack in ways Hollywood would deem "unprofessional".
One of the most infamous cases of this occurred on the set of Lawless, the prohibition-era family drama that he starred in alongside Shia LaBeouf. At one point, the two "brothers" got into such a heated argument that it almost came to blows, with Hardy nearly punching LaBeouf in the face. They were able to clear the air and resume filming, but the incident made a mark on Hardy's record.
3 HE GETS INSPIRATION FROM ODD PLACES
Tom Hardy is an actor who likes to take risks, and do things he's never done before, which accounts for his varied and dynamic film career. This entails that he has to look in some pretty odd places for inspiration and motivation for his wide-range of interesting characters.
When he took on the role of Forrest Bondurant in Lawless, he had no idea how to play an older brother who suddenly finds himself the maternal figure for his younger brother (Shia LaBeouf) when their mother dies of the Spanish flu. To prepare for the role, he watched the Granny from the Tweety and Sylvester cartoons to work on his motherly image, which was both tough but also tender.
2 HE'S PLAYED A SUPERHERO IN REAL LIFE
While Tom Hardy is best known for playing Bane, the main villain in The Dark Knight Rises, he's recently shifted gears into playing a more heroic role in the cape and cowl films, starring as the anti-hero in Venom. As for being a full blown superhero? He reserves that for when the cameras aren't rolling.
Back in April of 2017, Hardy was strolling in southwest London at the exact same time a moped thief was trying to make his getaway. When the thief crashed his bike into a parked Mercedes-Benz, he ran off into a neighborhood, prompting Hardy to give chase. He was seen sprinting and vaulting fences in pursuit, finally apprehending the thief until authorities arrived.
1 HE'S A RECOVERING ADDICT
Like other notable Hollywood leading man Ben Affleck, Hardy has had to work hard to distance himself from his reputation as an addict. He doesn't shy away from discussing his turbulent past, even though he's been sober for over 15 years. He hopes his candor can be useful to other people struggling with their inner demons.
Hardy maintains that his addiction to alcohol and cocaine began in the early '00s, after he was married to Sarah Ward in 1999. Their marriage was anything but blissful, and when they divorced in 2004, he spiraled out of control. It's one of the reasons he's an ambassador to the Prince's Trust, helping at-risk youth with coping skills that will ensure they don't make his mistakes.