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Tom Hardy: His best performances to date

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It only took a few years, but once audiences got a good look at Tom Hardy, it was just a matter of time before he became a star. Now, he’s an A-lister hoping for his first Academy Award nomination this year, either for The Revenant or this week’s release, the gangster tale Legend. The former is a much more likely Oscar player than the latter, but anything is possible. With Hardy having a baity role to show us on Friday, I wanted to cite him a bit, list his best performances so far, and give him another quick moment in the sun here on the site…

Legend is the story of British gangsters and identical twins Reggie and Ronnie Kray (both played by Hardy), two of the country’s most notorious criminals. During the 1960’s, the Kray brothers developed a criminal empire on the East End of London. Brian Helgeland writes and directs, while the cast aside from Hardy pulling double duty includes Emily Browning, Christopher Eccleston, Taron Egerton, Chazz Palminteri, David Thewlis, and more. Dick Pope handles the cinematography, while the score is by Carter Burwell. Obviously though, this is a showcase for Hardy, doing the type of acting that oftentimes can attract Oscar buzz. Early reviews suggest that won’t happen, but anything is possible. We’ll see what happens this week when audiences stateside get a look at it after international audiences have had it roll out over the last couple of months.

More than likely, if Hardy gets his first nomination in 2015, it will be for his supporting role in The Revenant, in which he co-stars with Leonardo DiCaprio. That one is co-written and directed by Alejandro G. Iñárritu, who obviously attracted the Academy in a big way last year. Hardy seems to have a pretty baity role, so the potential is there, it’s just a matter of waiting to see it. I’m fairly confident that if all goes well, the list you’ll see below of his best performances will have to be updated to include this one. Until then, we just sit tight.

As previously mentioned last year in a piece specifically on him, Hardy got his start when he was picked for a role in Band of Brothers, pretty much being plucked out of obscurity. He appeared in two episodes of the miniseries, which marked his debut as an actor. His small part in Black Hawk Down was his first time on the big screen, though obviously it wouldn’t be his last. He even had a huge role come his way the next year, playing the main villain in Star Trek: Nemesis. The next couple of years would see him take supporting parts in films like Layer Cake, Marie Antoinette, and RocknRolla, but they were all warm ups for his real introduction.

That would come when he played the title role in the prison movie Bronson. His performance so stunned audiences and critics alike that suddenly he was a name that was on the tip of just about everyone’s tongue. Hardy was a star in the making, someone who’d shown he had talent that ranks among the best of anyone in his generation. Many had tipped him for an Oscar nomination, and although it didn’t happen, his work on that flick shot him right to the front of the line when it came to consideration for major roles. He wasn’t just going to cash a paycheck and call it a day though. No, Hardy was going to continue to pick and choose his jobs carefully.

His next major role came a few years later when Christopher Nolan picked him for one of the notable parts in his mind bender Inception. Using his charismatic turn as almost another audition of sorts, Nolan then put Hardy in the final installment of his Batman franchise, getting him to play antagonist Bane in The Dark Knight Rises. Between those two works with Nolan, Hardy appeared in Lawless, This Means War, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, and Warrior. In that last one, he gave what I believe to be his best performance to date in his career playing an MMA fighter/military vet. It’s stunning work to me. Hardy has since appeared in Child 44, The Drop, Locke, and now this week’s Legend. An impressive body of work that’s only going to grow as the years move forward.

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As promised, here now is what I would consider to be Hardy’s ten best performances to date:

10. RocknRolla
9. Mad Max: Fury Road
8. Inception
7. Lawless
6. The Drop
5. The Dark Knight Rises
4. Locke
3. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
2. Bronson
1. Warrior

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Legend is in theaters beginning this weekend!

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He also contributes to several other film-related websites.

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