The Best Of Tom Hardy

The man paints in grunts. Here are some of his masterpieces.

Tom Hardy has that innate capability to both terrify and transfix us when he totally loses his head. Chances are that’s going to be a common occurrence this week when he takes on yet another iconic comic book antagonist/anti-hero in Ruben Fleischer’s Venom.

Telling the origin story of the unfortunate investigative reporter, Eddie Brock, Venom sees our hero have the displeasure of being consumed by an alien parasite that is bent on using our hero as a puppet in his pre-planned path of destruction. Hunted by the organisation that discovered this strange being, Brock must form a reluctant alliance with the creature that has become a part of him, ensuring to fight against this mysterious entity should it take over him completely.

As the comic book-loving world waits with great anticipation to see if Hardy has done the long-tongue-wielding brute justice, there’s some required viewing before Venom that no Tom Hardy fan should’ve missed. Whether its breaking bats or bringing double the trouble on some occasions, these are the Essential Top 10 Tom Hardy Movies.

10. The Drop

Tom Hardy observing the criminal underworld is one thing, but Tom Hardy observing the criminal underworld and nursing an abandoned puppy deserves your undivided attention. That’s what The Drop earns as our canine-loving gent handles a bar that also operates as a drop-off point for local gangsters, working alongside Noomi Rapace, and the late James Gandolfini, who both run into trouble at the money-heavy hotspot.

Earning his own space alongside the late and great Gandolfini is worth the admission alone, but Hardy gives us another unique iteration of a character type he’s mastered over the years. Bob, the barman is a timid but equally intense character that eventually sheds a weight that’s been hanging on him for years and the revelation is jaw-dropping. A slow burner of a straightforward crime drama, but this high-level double-act we’ll sadly never see again make it a brilliant one.

9. The Revenant

Unlike his appearance as Gotham’s reckoning, Tom’s portrayal of The Revenant‘s antagonist is unlikeable from the off. Reuniting with Inception co-star Leonardo DiCaprio in one visceral tale of revenge, admittedly, it’s the top billing beard’s big win, but Hardy makes sure to throw himself into the fierce western as well.

Looking as grizzly as DiCaprio’s other co-star, it’s apparent he’s just as deadly as treacherous trapper John Fitzgerald, who leaves Glass for dead and commits an unspeakable act that leaves you just itching to see his comeuppance. Thankfully it comes, but not until Hardy revels in constructing a blunt and brutal individual that is only out to save his skin and any kind that makes a profit. As a result, seeing him getting sold down the river is a real treat and as unforgiving as the rest of the film.

8. Lawless

The gig that got Hardy his grunt, Lawless sees him acting rings around everyone on show as the oldest Bondurant brother, and head of a whisky-making operation alongside Shia LaBeouf and Jason Clarke. Less menacing than other gangster figures he’d eventually take on, Forrest is more of the wise warrior only stepping forward when necessary. Best to step back as far you can when he does, though.

Damn near unstoppable, Forrest displays Hardy’s tough paternal side, grumbling and mumbling in Shia LaBeouf’s ear every time he puts his foot in it, and still managing to come back from every attack thrown his way. He’s a reserved beast waiting to explode and the biggest draw of the film. Overall, it feels like Lawless is one of the least rewatched entries on Hardy’s back catalogue, but just like Forrest himself, should never be underestimated.

7. Inception

Should anyone be struggling to plead the case of Tom Hardy getting the coveted role of 007, you need to look no further than his appearance in Christopher Nolan’s headf*ck of a heist movie, Inception. Stepping in as the super suave Fencer on Cobb’s dream team, this was another huge stepping stone for Tom and the first outing with Nolan before he put on the mask in The Dark Knight Rises.

Stealing scenes as a man not afraid to dream a little bigger and finding subtle moments to make a significant impact, this is an undeniable audition for a good Bond. Following his first meeting with his old friend in a dusty bar, Hardy’s Eames sizes up the situation and sneaks out the back unnoticed. It’s one of Hardy’s least imposing roles, but that doesn’t make him all the more impressive. Barely shaken, although a little stirred by the circumstances of his new job when he learns the real stakes, there’s a charm from Hardy that we’ve rarely seen since and one always worth going back to.

6. Mad Max: Fury Road

Director George Miller’s joint effort with Charlize Theron and Tom Hardy in Mad Max: Fury Road is less of an action film and more of a visceral attack on the senses for just over two hours. That being said, even with the pendulum swinging anarchists, the high distribution of guzzoline and that nutter on guitar, there are still excellent performances at the core of this sun-drenched rollercoaster, one of which unsurprisingly comes from Hardy himself. Theron may well have walked away with the most praise for her role as hard-edged heroine, Furiosa, but Hardy’s reinvention of Mel Gibson’s Road Warrior is also something to witness, too.

Haunted by the ghosts of his past and lost in the bleak future world encased in fire and blood, Hardy taps into that borderline savage state we love seeing him in, fuelled by a storm that can’t be sedated and unleashing it on both ally and enemy, alike. With plans of a sequel still floating in the ether, Fury Road remains unmoving in the halls of Valhalla, not just as one of Hardy’s best, but one of the greatest action movies ever made.

5. The Dark Knight Rises

Over analyse Jared Leto and Joaquin Phoenix’s turns as the Joker all you like, but the toughest challenge to follow up Heath Ledger’s masterful effort was for the man who wasn’t even in the same role. At the dawn of the comic book movie boom and following the best Batman movie of all time, in steps Tom Hardy as the Bane of the Caped Crusader’s life in the closing chapter of The Dark Knight Trilogy.

Grabbing Nolan’s unique take on the towering brute of a villain from the Batman lore and running with it, Hardy creates a menacing foe that is a lot more calculated than Ledger’s anarchist. Besides orchestrating the deconstruction of Bruce Wayne, he then goes onto break the symbol of Gotham’s last hope in what is a genuinely intense fight with some prime dialogue from Hardy – and all with a miniature radiator attached to his face. Initially met with a mixed reaction, thankfully time has been kind to The Dark Knight Rises, and the world has come to realise that the man who broke the Bat was also one of the actor’s most commendable roles.

4. Warrior

Equal in both melodrama and muscles, Warrior still packs a punch not only through Joel Edgerton’s reserved performance as the struggling father but the ferociousness and somewhat feral opposition he faces in the ring with his on-screen brother, played by Tom Hardy. Returning from the war a reluctant hero and home to memories he’s still struggling to forget, Tommy Conlon is a solid example of Hardy demonstrating his physicality and his raw acting talent that he’d refine in the years to come.

Hunched over and squeezing in an undeniable presence with every scene he’s in; there’s an intense heartache exuding from the youngest Conlon as he reverts to breaking bodies rather than rebuild the family bonds. His performance as the unstoppable freight train that is close to exploding is without a doubt one of Hardy’s finest, that is still a joy to go back to and watch.

3. Legends

Cool and crazy are what Hardy is known for, and both get put through their paces when he was tasked with playing two of the UK’s most influential criminal figures, in Legends. Not only taking on the brains of Reggie Kray, but also the unhinged and profoundly unnerving beast of a brother, Ron, Hardy plays two sides of a coin that’s thrown between the eyes of everyone that dares cross the twin kings of 1960s London. Smooth and psychotic, cool and terrifyingly callous, Hardy delivers double and sells the idea that you’re watching two very different individuals dominate the criminal underworld, which makes the occasions when they face off against each other even more insane.

Besides the bar fight that should’ve been a proper shootout (“like a WES-tern”), one of the highlights of Legends is seeing Ronnie and Reg go toe-to-toe demonstrating the seamlessness of this impressive feat. Cleverly choreographed, Hardy is at the centre giving it his all and still has some to spare. He may have some great co-stars with the likes of Emily Browning and Christopher Eccleston, but it’s when Tom’s working opposite himself that Legends earns its status.

2. Locke

Though it might seem like one of the most divisive of Hardy’s films given its concept, his turn as the family man on a road to redemption or ruin is an impressive one – even if it is 90 minutes of Hardy alone in a car. Jobs like this are a sure-fire risk for any actor to take on when they’re the only person on-screen, but that doesn’t stall Hardy from constructing a flawed and fascinating character, putting his foot down to demonstrate every side he can conjure in Locke.

Filmed in one night and coincidentally while the man himself was under the weather (hence all the nose-blowing), Hardy is Ivan Locke; a construction foreman driving into his own personal inferno when a one night stand comes back to haunt him. With only the hum of the engine and various characters on the phone to keep him company, Hardy gives a solo turn that keeps you in the backseat and desperate to see where he’s going. Rage, acceptance, and the constant navigation of holding his sanity are what draw you in and make sure you don’t take your eyes off the road, or Hardy.

1. Bronson

Undeniably still one of Hardy’s best performances to date was also one of his earliest. Taking on the role of one of the most feared prisoners in the UK demanded attention and Hardy gives it his all in both body and mind. Gaining a physique that he wouldn’t surpass until Bane three years later, his turn as Michael Peterson who became Charles Bronson is a perfect tornado-based acid trip. Directed by Nicolas Winding Refn before he was shot into the Hollywood stratosphere by way of Drive, his work with Hardy still holds up thanks to its leading man.

Unhinged and unrestrained, Bronson is a product of his environment and a truly terrifying one, at that. In between his imagination and the endless brawls he steps into or awaits lubed from head to toe, it’s one his most excellent efforts that won numerous awards, but none more valued than from Bronson, himself. Following conversations with the man he was signed to play, the real Charles Bronson was so impressed with Hardy’s portrayal; he shaved his iconic moustache so Tom could use it for the film. Not many actors could match a blessing such as this, but Hardy earns every single hair.

What do you think? Prefer a performance that didn’t make the list? Well come and have a go if you think you’re Hardy-nough. Sound off in the comments below.