Why you’ll always find a rugged, respectful, underplayed consistency at the heart of Tom Hardy’s approach to work, parenthood and life itself.
Mutter the word ‘enigma’ in the general direction of Tom Hardy and the British actor will most likely respond with a blunt, slightly cursive repost. The star of Legend, Dunkirk, Mad Max: Fury Road and The Dark Knight Returns, who rose up through the ranks via some unusual diversions into rap and hip-hop (as both an artist and producer), as well as fashion modelling, is happy to take credit for his successes on screen, but rapidly draws a rather well inked line when the fanfare arrives.
“The acclaim just doesn’t interest me because it’s all subjective,” he says. “What to some is a brilliant piece of absorbing drama could, to me, be a performance that I’ll unpick and find endless faults with; and there is no correct answer, so for that reason I take all the plaudits with a slight sense of numbness.”
Hardy, 43, doesn’t mean to come across as ungrateful; it’s more than his schooling in the creative arts came from a place where the expectation to do something meaningful and noticeable was always there. After all, his father, Chips, was a confident and charismatic actor in his pomp, appearing across diverse comedy, TV drama and literature projects.
“I think people take me far too seriously,” he notes. “Perhaps that’s because I used to take myself a lot more seriously. I realise now though I have become a more mellow person, and a lot of that is down to fatherhood. You accept nothing is as important as your children, and nothing else really matters.”
It’s also refreshing that in a world where so many recognisable faces sell off the package of their stardom, their life and their significant others, the Peaky Blinders actor is stubbornly happy to let his talent do the talking.
That’s not to say he hasn’t broken cover once or twice in the past when the subject of his children has come about. His eldest, Louie, was born in 2008 from a relationship with producer/ director Rachael Speed.
More recently, the birth of a girl, to second wife Charlotte Riley, came along in 2015 – although her name has never been revealed – while little Forrest turned two in December.
“I think there is a big temptation to create our children in our own shadow, but it’s nonsense isn’t it. I mean, pretty much as soon as they arrive, you appreciate the fact these incredible little people are their own entities and, for the most part, they will do exactly what they want… and actually, that’s what you want too.”
Away from parenting, Hardy’s professional ambitions have, like so many others been put on hold over the past year in light of the Covid-19 pandemic. The film industry has found itself paralysed, with releases delayed and in some cases cancelled, cinemas shut down, and distributors out of pocket to the tune of billions of dollars.
“It has been tough for everyone, but nothing is more important or precious than life, and there are industries and livelihoods much harder hit than mine,” he admits.
Hardy does at least have a couple of projects slated for release in 2021, notably in June, Venom: Let There Be Carnage, then a rumoured return of Mad Max… but Hardy won’t be rushed.
“I’ve always believed the value in doing something is in doing it properly, and that’s something my father taught me,” he says. “When you do what I do there are always offers coming your way to do this, try this, get involved in that, and it’s hard to turn away good opportunities. Yet it’s harder still to carry them off if you’re not fully devoted to them.
“So that’s my position now – do it properly, or don’t do it.”