Tom Hardy & Riz Ahmed Interview: Venom

Tom Hardy is a prolific actor who has appeared in multiple blockbuster movies, including Inception, The Dark Knight Rises, and Mad Max: Fury Road.  Now, he plays lead character Eddie Brock in the comic book movie Venom.  Eddie is an investigative journalist who gets in over his head and becomes the anti-hero Venom.

Riz Ahmed is a British actor who won an Emmy for HBO’s The Night Of.  He has also appeared in blockbuster movies including Jason Bourne and Rogue One.  In Venom, he plays Carlton Drake, a genius inventor experimenting on alien symbiotes.  Hitting theaters October 5, Venom is a combination action-film, comedy, and dark horror directed by Zombieland’s Ruben Fleischer.

Screen Rant: So, the first question I have is, what sequence or moment from the script really drew you in and got you guys on board for Venom?  I know that you've been a fan for a very long time.

Tom Hardy: My son has been a huge fan of Venom for a very long time and I got initiated. I knew who he was from the comic books when I was a kid. I saw the front covers of the Venom comics, but that's where it ended. ‘That's the black Spider-Man and he looks way cooler than Spider-Man.’ If I ever read a comic, it will be that one over those two. But I wasn't a big fan.

Screen Rant: Gotcha.

Tom Hardy: Now I'm one, but that's where I'm coming from. And for me the initial draw was the interaction, the dynamic between Eddie Brock and the symbiote.  And the inner conflict and the struggle between primal need which is the Venom. ‘When do we eat? The earth is an all you can eat buffet and why can I not do as I wish whenever I want.’ And Eddie Brock, who has very few scruples trying to create an ethical framework in order to negotiate the terms of this alien living inside of him. I thought this was really good fun. And it happens to be a Marvel movie too. But centrifugal, that was what was the key issue for me. And you?

Riz Ahmed: It was… thought it might be fun is all [LAUGHS].  Have like a laugh, so… I wasn't doing anything that week, you know?

Screen Rant: Tom, how did you approach the role? Because I saw a documentary on paranoid schizophrenia and it seems like there's a lot drawn from that. At least with the way of the Eddie handled the Venom character, the symbiote, inside of him.

Tom Hardy: Do you know, I didn’t study paranoid schizophrenia.

Screen Rant: Really?

Tom Hardy: No, no, I didn't. I don't see necessarily, apart from armchair-psychology, sort of conversation about potential delusional behavior or inner voices.  There was nothing which was specificity designed to reenact any semblance of mental health in that aspect.

Screen Rant: Sure.

Tom Hardy: So, any comment in that, in that area at all would be glib. However, I have an inside voice personally and my own mental health issues which was very simple to draw upon. That part of me which is nourishing or less nourishing in my actions. And then it was just to personify the one that didn't really care, the chaos, or the self will run riot.  Which is symbolized in Venom, who’s actually a pretty quite innocent and naive creature in many aspects, but also incredibly advanced because he's from outer space. We can imbue him with a much higher-powered intelligence if you wanted to. But primarily on this planet, it's really about, ‘What do I eat, where do I sleep.’ And it really broke it down very simply.

Screen Rant: Basic survival, yeah.

Tom Hardy: But how you see that interact with a human being with an ethical framework, trying to negotiate the terms of his inner landscape, has a tortured neurosis about it, which I find funny. As opposed to what you’d describe as schizophrenia.  I would say it was more the embracement of tortured neurosis, which is hysteria, and some of… an emotional imbalance. And therefore there’s a more humorous palette. Although that is a legitimate suffering of people, who do have neurosis, and I'm not making fun of, or being glib either.

Screen Rant: Right. Riz, your character Carlton Drake, he's a scientist, a businessman, and also has like glimmers of a cult leader. The way he kind of speaks to people. Can you talk to me about the approach of Carlton Drake?

Riz Ahmed: Well, you know, it's interesting that you say he’s a cult leader because really what he is, is he's the head of a big technology company. And if you think about lots of the big companies that really control so many different aspects of our lives and how we interact with each other, what we consume, how we kind of mediate the world and our experience of it. You could say there’s something cultish about that in terms of the reach, the power, the personality cults, the Great Man Myth that a lot of these companies kind of build themselves around. So, it was that element, but I wasn't drawing from cults or anything like that. Really, I was just drawing from the reality of what a lot of these billionaire industrialists and their ambition seems to enable them to try and achieve. And Carlton Drake is someone whose ambition reaches as far as the stars and that's a situation that we live in right now as well. We've got lots of people sending rockets into space to explore and explore space as a frontier. So, to be honest, the research for this was in the times that we're living in and it was at my fingertips.

Screen Rant: Right. Tom great job on that Venom voice, man. Like it was amazing. Where did you come up with that?

Tom Hardy: Redman, Busta Rhymes, James Brown, as ingredients. And I played with it. The fusion to create what you hear, which sounds nothing like them.  But initially that was the vibe, or the heartbeat, that I wanted to bring to it. Was the kind of bombastic, playful, dark, witty, clever, very edgy…honest. But with a powerful, familiar, friendly sound, which is palatable but will drop unexpectedly, like birds…do. That’s the truth.

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Key Release Dates
  • Venom (2018) release date: Oct 05, 2018
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