40 Things You Didn’t Know About Tom Hardy
He’s one of the biggest movie stars on the planet, a rare leading man with global name recognition who also happens to be a critically acclaimed character actor. Born in London, England, he’s known for playing the hero of Mad Max: Fury Road, Eames in Inception, Ivan Locke in Locke, Charles Bronson / Michael Peterson in Bronson, John Fitzgerald in The Revenant and Handsome Bob in RocknRolla.
And yet, somehow, Tom Hardy has also managed to keep a fairly low profile in terms of his own personal life and history.
A relatively private star – private for someone who regularly updates his social media with candid photos from film sets and his home life, often involving dogs – he has been known to shut down any interviewers who get too personal.
That makes it tough to know who Tom Hardy really is. With that said, what details we do know about the man, slipped out in interviews over the years, are fascinating. Here are 40 things you never knew about Tom Hardy, the thinking person’s heartthrob.
40. Edward Thomas Hardy was once arrested for gun possession
Today, he successfully channels his rage into his movie and TV roles as a litany of misunderstood bad guys and complex violent men.
In his youth, though, things were different for Tom Hardy, born Edward Thomas Hardy, as he struggled to find an outlet.
As a teen growing up in London, England, he turned to crime, getting himself into trouble at school before finding it on the streets.
He was expelled from school twice: once for theft, the second time for persistent bad behaviour.
Then came a more serious incident as Hardy, aged 15, found himself arrested for joyriding.
It was after speeding around in that same stolen Mercedes that he was also collared for possession of a weapon: a handgun that he had taken along for the ride.
39. Drug addiction nearly killed this Dark Knight Rises star
These days, he keeps well away from drugs and alcohol – but only because he’s all too aware of how damaging they can be.
Now sober for more than a decade at this point, he struggled with alcohol and crack cocaine addiction as a younger man.
He has described himself as a “petite little bourgeois boy from London” – that was a private school he was expelled from – but privilege didn’t stop him from falling through the cracks.
Before he checked himself into rehab in 2003, things got so bad that he has said “I would have sold my mother for a rock of crack”.
He’s 15 years off drugs now, but he claims his addictions almost killed him at one point.
“I am f**king lucky to be here”, he now says about his recovery from his addictions. He calls that time a “near-death experience”.
38. He started his career on a reality TV show for models
In what seems like every performance, Hardy has endeavoured to obscure his features with facial hair, masks and prosthetics.
Roles in The Dark Knight Rises, Mad Max: Fury Road, Dunkirk, Legend and the upcoming Fonzo have all sought to hide Hardy’s face.
This didn’t happen behind closed doors either: his first public exposure came through his performance on a modelling reality show.
This was a show within a show called Find Me a Supermodel, part of the UK’s Channel 4 morning programme The Big Breakfast.
He beat out his rivals to win the ultimate prize in front of the nation.
37. He once got into a fistfight with Shia LaBeouf…and lost
In films like Bronson, Inception (2010), The Dark Knight Rises (2012) and Warrior, he doesn’t look like a man to be trifled with.
The same goes for Hardy’s character in Lawless, a hulking Virginia bootlegger who looks more like a shaved bear in a cardigan.
On the set of Lawless, LaBeouf was predictably unpredictable, drinking real moonshine and scaring love interest Mia Wasikowska to the point where she almost walked off the film.
Hardy later told reporters that LaBeouf “knocked me out sparko. Out cold. He’s a bad, bad boy.”
36. Charlize Theron broke his nose in a fight on the set of Mad Max: Fury Road
By all accounts, Mad Max: Fury Road co-stars Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron did not get along on the set of George Miller’s action sequel.
Zoe Kravitz says Hardy and Theron didn’t ‘vibe’, and Theron admits the pair “struggled”, but Hardy himself was much more honest.
All this tension culminated in Theron eventually breaking his nose during a fight the pair had – though unlike the tussle Hardy had on Lawless with LaBeouf, this one was just an accident.
It was this disguised arm that Hardy missed during the fake fight and that accidentally hit him in the face, breaking his nose.
35. The little finger on his right hand is permanently bent
If it’s not already clear by now, let it be known that Tom Hardy has been prone to injury in his time.
His greatest foe, arguably, has been himself, at least if you consider the permanent damage he’s done to his own body – even beyond his movie performance injuries.
Eagle-eyed viewers may have spotted his curled pinky in his movies whenever he closes his right hand.
The injury required three operations just to allow him to make a fist, but the finger itself now remains permanently bent.
34. He has Leonardo DiCaprio’s name tattooed on his arm
If there’s one thing that Tom Hardy loves, other than dogs, it’s covering himself in body art.
With much of his torso inked, his body tells his life story, beginning with the first tat he got aged 15.
There’s also a star for his first child, a British flag, the Marine corps number of a friend’s father and the name ‘Charlotte’, for wife Charlotte Riley.
”Leo’ is Leonardo DiCaprio, who was so confident that Hardy would get an Oscar nomination for The Revenant that he made the sceptical Hardy a bet: the loser gets a tattoo of the other’s choosing. Hardy lost.
33. He has his own rap album
Like so many actors before him, Tom Hardy hasn’t been afraid to also dip his toe into other creative fields.
Back in 1999, a few years before he had even tasted stardom, he recorded his own rap album.
The album was never actually released, until DJ Tracy made it available late last year under the title Falling On Your Arse In 1999.
It was reported in September of this year that he is currently recording a grime album with David Bowie and Plan B producer Sam Williams.
32. ‘Tom Hardy’ isn’t his real name
It’s not unusual for actors to adopt a new name for when they enter the world of showbiz.
Just as Michael Caine was once Maurice Micklewhite and Bruce Willis was formerly known as Walter, Tom Hardy has his own secret real-world moniker.
Taking the same name at birth as his father Edward ‘Chips’ Hardy, he later took Tom as his stage name.
Christened Edward Thomas Hardy, the actor now chooses to go by his middle name in both his professional and private lives.
31. He was a guest at Prince Harry’s wedding
Tom Hardy isn’t someone known for having many celebrity pals – or even many pals full-stop.
In the past, the actor has confessed to having few friends, preferring to keep the company of dogs instead.
Among the celebrities in attendance on the day were Idris Elba, George Clooney and, rather surprisingly, Hardy and his wife Charlotte Riley.
Hardy in characteristic fashion would on the day only tell reporters that his relationship with the Prince was “deeply private” – though admitted he thinks “Harry is a f***ing legend”.
30. He reads bedtime stories on children’s TV
On-screen, he’s earned a reputation as a hard man, but in real life Tom Hardy might be a bigger softy than we all think.
Since 2016, he has joined the likes of James McAvoy and Chris Evans in regularly appearing on CBeebies Bedtime Story.
So far, he has appeared in five episodes, reading tales with names such as Odd Dog Out and Fleabag.
— BBC (@BBC) March 26, 2017
Last year, two of Hardy’s episodes ran on Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day, with mothers taking to social media to confess their tuning into Bedtime Story even though the kids were asleep.
29. He based his Bane accent on a bareknuckle boxer nicknamed ‘King of the Gypsies’
The iconic Bane voice used by Tom Hardy in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises (2012), much-imitated and much-parodied, was inspired by an unlikely source.
Bane’s bizarre accent was actually based on that of a British bareknuckle ‘gypsy’ fighter named Bartley Gorman.
Hardy has said he found inspiration in Gorman because of Bane’s latin roots in the comics: “I wanted to underpin the Latin, but a Romani Latin opposed to Latino”.
“The style is heavy-handed, heavy-footed… It’s not about fighting, it’s about carnage”.
28. He recently chased down and performed a citizen’s arrest on a moped thief
He’s played two comic book supervillains on-screen now, but in real life Tom Hardy may be more of a superhero.
In 2017, it was reported that he had got himself into a real-life chase sequence with a real-life bad guy – and emerged the victor.
One witness said that Hardy “went off like a shot in pursuit and looked furious. I asked Tom what happened and he told me he chased him through my back garden.”
In a recent Esquire interview, he said the pursuit “wasn’t much of a chase” and added that his intention wasn’t just to punish the kid, but to help him turn his life around – which he later did. “He’s got issues, and he’s in a bad way. Do we just give up on a 16-year-old?”
27. He rehearses his lines with dogs instead of humans
Tom Hardy’s love of dogs is so pure, the British actor is not afraid of admitting that he actually prefers their company to people.
Such is his adoration, he prefers rehearsing lines with dogs as opposed to with his fellow humans.
“You can never fool the dog into thinking that you’re somebody else, so they’re great bulls*** monitors,” he told Vanity Fair in 2015.
It’s been working out well for him so far, though he admits that “it’s very soul-destroying. They’re very harsh critics, dogs. And they’re very rarely impressed.”
26. Tom Hardy made his acting debut in the miniseries Band of Brothers
Name any of today’s stars of screens big and small, and chances are good that they appeared on Steven Spielberg’s 2001 miniseries Band of Brothers.
The show, a wartime epic with a gigantic cast, features early appearances from numerous future stars.
Also making an appearance, for just the one episode, is British actor Tom Hardy, playing a greenhorn paratrooper.
Band of Brothers was not just his very first gig out of acting school: the show represented the first time anybody had seen him on screen.
But in the same year, he had his movie debut in the war drama Black Hawk Down. Playing SPC Lance Twombly, he was credited as Thomas Hardy in Black Hawk Down, which won two Academy Awards for Sound and Film Editing.
25. He went to school with Michael Fassbender
Tom Hardy wasn’t the only one to make his big break out of acting school in Band of Brothers.
Michael Fassbender, like Hardy, featured in the show’s ensemble as an American paratrooper.
Back in the late 90s, Hardy and Fassbender both attended Drama Centre London at the same time, with Fassbender a couple of years ahead of Hardy.
According to Hardy, Fassbender would remain in character off-stage, even when playing a wheelchair-bound WWI veteran: “at lunchtime he wouldn’t come out of character and was always in his wheelchair and we’d be like, ‘Dude! Just order your lunch and come along!'”
24. His childhood dog was named Mad Max
Tom Hardy has kept many, many dogs over the years, but Max was probably the closest to his heart.
Max, a Staffie-Labrador mix, was his pet from his mid-teens, and remained by his side until he passed some two decades later.
Even more incredibly, Max would pass away on the set of Mad Max sequel Fury Road.
Evidently, he and Max were inseparable: while studying at drama school, he “wouldn’t go to class unless Max was allowed in”.
23. He once cut an interview short to save someone’s life
Big star though he now is, Tom Hardy isn’t exactly renowned for being the most hospitable of celebs.
An Esquire profile from earlier this year, however, might take the biscuit in featuring the most awkward interview that Hardy has ever given.
It turned out the woman – who had fallen while walking her dog – was the mother of a childhood best friend of Hardy’s.
The Esquire profile ultimately ends with Hardy taking Sullivan along to hospital to pay a visit to the recovery woman. He probably preferred it to talking any further about his private life.
22. He speaks French
Eat your heart out, Bradley Cooper: you’re not the only one in Hollywood who can speak the language of love.
As a handful of international interviews have demonstrated, English is only Tom Hardy’s first language.
It was during these excursions that he learned French, reportedly fluently – though he continues to insist otherwise.
His response? “Yes, I speak a little French, but not very good” – in perfect French.
21. He bases his characters on Come Dine with Me contestants
Gary Oldman is an influence, but did you know Tom Hardy also takes acting inspiration from reality TV?
Come Dine With Me, a show in which a group of strangers come together to rank one another’s home cooking and hosting skills, is a particular favourite.
It’s not just easy watching either. Come Dine With Me is “great people-watching”, says Hardy.
It’s something to keep in mind next time you see Hardy giving a typically intense, critically adored character portrayal.
20. He once piled on 42 pounds in five weeks for a role
Now known as an actor given to extreme physical transformation, Hardy first made his reputation as a shapeshifter a decade ago in Bronson.
A madcap biopic of notorious British prisoner Charles Bronson, Hardy’s breakout movie saw the British actor Tom Hardy play havoc with his then-wiry frame.
Critics received the film and in particular Hardy’s performance as Charles Bronson with enthusiasm, putting the actor on a path to movie stardom.
It’s not the only drastic weight change Hardy has made for a role. To play a homeless alcoholic in Stuart: A Life Backwards, he lost 30 pounds, while for The Dark Knight Rises he packed 30 pounds of muscle weight on.
Before The Dark Knight Rises, he had previously worked with director Christopher Nolan when he played Eames in Inception (2010).
19. Shrek makes him cry
He may be Oscar-nominated now, but there’s one crucial bit of acting that Tom Hardy still hasn’t mastered.
Talking about his 2011 MMA drama Warrior, he confessed to struggling with some of the more emotionally naked scenes.
If there’s one thing that does turn the waterworks on for him, though, that’s children’s animation.
“I won’t know what will send me,” he says. “I’m quite sentimental. If my son tells me he loves me, that will make me cry.”
18. Pal Gary Oldman was his acting hero as a kid
Fassbender may have impressed him at acting school, but for Tom Hardy, one actor above all others defined him. He’s said: “Gary Oldman is my hero. That’s it.”
At drama school, along with all his other classmates, he used to idolise Brit acting legend Oldman.
Since then, he has become quite the companion of Oldman’s, having gone on to star with him in four films, first appearing as Oldman’s co-star in 2011’s Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.
Hardy, though, puts his success down to having “stolen everything” from Oldman in the first place.
17. He based his Venom character on Conor McGregor and Woody Allen
Tom Hardy isn’t afraid to think outside of the box when it comes to building his characters. (For one, he based his brutal gangster in Lawless on a Looney Tunes character.)
For Venom, however, he went even more out-there than normal in gathering up his influences.
Brock’s symbiote, meanwhile, was based on a range of real people, including Conor McGregor, James Brown and the rapper Redman.
He never told producers what he was aiming for, though: “You don’t say s*** like that to the studio”.
16. He had to wear 3-inch shoe-lifts to play Bane
At 5 foot 9 inches, he was perhaps not the most appropriate casting choice for the colossal Bane.
To make the actor appear larger and more intimidating on-screen, the Dark Knight Rises team gave him some help.
This wasn’t the only help he got from the production to transform into the super-villain.
Some production stills still bear evidence of the dense foundation that went into making Bane appear tat-free.
15. He’s Hugh Jackman’s choice for replacing him as Wolverine
He may have moved on from X-Men now, but Hugh Jackman retains a keen interest in the superhero franchise.
Jackman has let it be known he has opinions on who should next play Wolverine, and it’s an actor known both for his physique and his interest in comic book movies.
Pressed on who should take the part, in 2016 Jackman told MTV News “I think Tom Hardy would be a great Wolverine.”
Hardy is also a bookies favourite to take on the mantle of James Bond after Daniel Craig vacates the role.
14. He physically fought the director of The Revenant
Shia LaBeouf and Charlize Theron were just the tip of the iceberg: Tom Hardy has been in a fair share of on-set scrapes in his time.
The most recent came during production on The Revenant, the 2015 survival Western that earned Hardy his first Oscar nomination.
Naturally, there were tensions, not least between Hardy – who was forced to drop out of Suicide Squad when The Revenant’s shoot overran – and his director.
There was no bad blood – Hardy even had t-shirts made of him choking Inarritu on the set of the film.
13. His father is a children’s TV writer
Acclaimed though he is, Tom Hardy is an altogether serious actor hardly known for his comedic chops.
Hardy once tried romantic comedy with 2012’s This Means War, in which he stars in a love triangle with Reese Witherspoon and Chris Pine, and vowed never to do so again.
Nowadays, he’s best known as a writer and producer on his son’s show, the grim British colonial drama Taboo.
These included Helping Henry and About Face, while Chips also won a British Comedy Award writing material for legendary comedian Dave Allen.
12. His wife is also his Peaky Blinders co-star
Making his first appearance just as he was hitting his stride as a movie star, Hardy surprised some by taking a co-starring role in cult TV crime drama Peaky Blinders in 2014.
It probably had something to do with wanting to work again with regular collaborator Steven Knight, Peaky’s showrunner.
It’s Hardy’s third of four collaborations with his wife, the pair having become regular co-stars over the years.
Riley almost starred in The Dark Knight Rises, too. She auditioned to play Catwoman, but ultimately lost out to Anne Hathaway.
11. He broke four different bones making Warrior
Mad Max: Fury Road (2015) wasn’t the first set on which Hardy broke bones for his art.
For 2011’s Warrior, Gavin O’Connor’s sports drama about two MMA fighter brothers, Hardy’s body was put through the wringer.
Still, Hardy didn’t suffer quite as badly as Edgerton, who at one point tore his medial collateral ligament, shutting production down for six weeks.
He also learned boxing, Muay Thai, kickboxing and Jiu-Jitsu from scratch for the part.
10. He may be retiring soon
He’s at the top of his game. He recently got his first Oscar nom. He’s just had one of the biggest box office successes of his life and landed his own comic book franchise with Venom. And yet…
Tom Hardy may only be 41 – compare him to Liam Neeson, still a leading man at 66 – but he might have already had enough.
Turning 40 is what got him thinking: “You’ve summited Everest…Do you want to go all the way back and do it again? Or do you want to get off the mountain and go f***ing find a beach?”
“What is it that draws you to the craft? At this age, I don’t know anymore. I’ve kind of had enough. If I’m being brutally honest, I want to go on with my life.”
9. He’s a ballet fan
By now it should be obvious that Tom Hardy’s reputation as a terrifying ‘hard man’ doesn’t hold much water.
Hardy’s evident sensitivity doesn’t end at his love of dogs, reading bedtime stories to kids and Shrek, however.
“I have to say I love it,” Hardy told the Mirror in 2012. “It is a secret passion of mine if truth be told.”
Nowadays, he prefers to watch (he reportedly catches The Nutcracker every year): “It’s big and scary and I enjoy watching it with my mum.”
8. He wanted to play Mr Darcy in Joe Wright’s Pride & Prejudice
Burly Hardy was keen to play aloof Mr Darcy, the central male character in Jane Austen’s novel Pride & Prejudice, in British director Joe Wright’s adaptation of the work.
Hardy auditioned for the role back in the early 2000s, vying for the lead role which would have seen him star opposite Keira Knightley.
However, despite Hardy’s wishes, it wasn’t meant to be. Ultimately, the part went to English actor Matthew Macfadyen.
Apparently, a studio head quipped at Hardy: “Every woman in the world has an impression of who Darcy is and you’re just not it.”
“That hurt, that really hurt,” Hardy confessed to The Telegraph back in 2009. “I’d worn a blue shirt and jeans and a blue blazer and been doing my best Hugh Grant impression.”
“But now I was back to playing the wonky skewiff-teeth kid with the bow legs,” he said.
7. He got into acting because he’s a good liar and manipulator
Back in 2011, Shortlist asked Hardy how he got into acting. “In the end there was nothing else I could do,” he said.
“I had a busy head and I didn’t really want to do things that I found boring.”
“The only thing that kept my attention was to play and have fun and manipulate.”
“I’ve always been a liar, always been able to manipulate. I pretty much get whatever I want,” he confessed.
“Acting really is a mixture of bullsh*tting and manipulating and the study of action-reaction,” he went on to say.
“And camouflage – hiding yourself in other languages, bodies, and shapes. Acting channeled me into something. I found some self-esteem and thought, ‘I’m actually quite good at something.’”
6. He finds playing heroes ‘boring’
Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter back in 2017, Hardy said: “I play a lot of scary blokes, and there are probably a few reasons why.”
He went on to reveal that he finds it more stimulating to play darker roles.
“Villains are much more interesting than hero leads, who are, for the most part, really boring,” he said.
“The thought of going into work day in and day out to play someone who is just mind-numbingly boring fills me with dread, so I don’t bother.”
“Another part of it is when I was younger I remember being frightened a lot,” he went on to confess.
“[I was frightened] of being small and skinny and vulnerable and feeling that I could have been preyed upon easily. So, everything that I play is what scared me.”
5. He drew on personal experience when it came to shooting Warrior
Hardy got candid in a 2011 interview with ShortList when discussing his portrayal of Tommy Conlon in Warrior.
In the film, he plays the son of an alcoholic retired boxer, Paddy Conlon (Nick Nolte).
In the ShortList interview, Hardy revealed that “In the [alcohol abuse] scenes with Nick Nolte, if you’ve been to those depths, experience allows you to think ‘this is right’ or ‘this is wrong’ and know how to react.”
He went on: “There’s only so much imagination you can use before you have to go out and live life again.”
“You see these kid actors who work from 10 to 21 and then all of a sudden they disappear for a bit.”
“They’ve got nothing to draw upon apart from a life of working, so you need to go out and catch up and then come back in again.”
4. He improvised the lobster tank scene in Venom
Hardy has played a lot of brawny, headstrong characters in his time – like in films such as Legend and Warrior.
Notably, Hardy played antihero Eddie Brock in Venom, where his masculine, dominant presence shone through in one particular scene.
The film’s famous lobster tank scene sees Hardy immerse himself in a lobster tank and begin eating the live lobsters.
Amazingly, this scene was improvised. “One of my favorite moments in the movie is when he’s in the Bistro […] and he ends up jumping into a lobster tank,” director Ruben Fleischer told CinemaBlend in 2018.
“That was something that we hadn’t planned. We went to rehearse the scene at the set, and the production designer had planned for a giant lobster tank in the middle of the restaurant.”
“And Tom goes, ‘Well, I must get in that [if] there’s going to be a giant lobster tank. Of course I’m going to go in it!'”
3. He relapsed after Star Trek: Nemesis
As a young man, Hardy seriously struggled with substance abuse, but he managed to get his life back on track in the early 2000s.
In 2002 Hardy was busing shooting for the sci fi movie Star Trek: Nemesis, and explained to Total Film that he was afraid of relapsing while working on the film.
“Every day on that set, I was terrified – which worked for the character anyway,” he explained.
“You can’t hide that, the camera will pick it up. I was genuinely out of my depth.”
“The whole thing was ‘How can I do this?’ I took it very seriously, with my technique. I didn’t have a single drink when I did it – for three months.”
However, the film was a critical failure on all accounts, which cause Hardy to relapse. He then checked himself into rehab in 2003 and has been sober ever since.
2. He replaced Michael Fassbender in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
Hardy dazzled in 2011 spy thriller film Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, starring opposite his role model Gary Oldman.
The film went on to secure a BAFTA and three Academy Award nominations – but Hardy almost didn’t have a role in it at all.
Initially, the role of Ricki Tarr was meant to go to Hardy’s old classmate, Michael Fassbender.
Fassbender was originally cast in the role but ultimately could not accept the part as he was too busy starring in X-Men: First Class.
This proved serendipitous, as Hardy wowed audiences with his engaging performance in the Cold War thriller.
The film went on to earn $81.2 million at the box office and, moreover, was the highest-grossing film at the British box office for three consecutive weeks.
1. He’s besties with his stunt double
Back in 2013, stuntman Jacob Tomuri worked as Hardy’s stunt double in Mad Max: Fury Road.
Since then, Tomuri has stood in as Hardy’s double on multiple occasions, including in Legend and The Revenant.
Tomuri has displayed exceptional attention to detail when it comes to filling in for Hardy.
“I felt if we were to make this work we needed to take on the continuity, so when you watch the film you can lose the fact that one actor is playing two roles,” he explained in Viva in 2015.
“I wanted to replicate Tom’s characters as much as possible, from their posture to their mannerisms.”
Off-screen, the two are best buds and often pop up on each other’s social media profiles.