Tom Hardy talks about the appeal of playing British spy Ricki Tarr in a big screen version of classic John Le Carré novel Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and some of the psychology behind it. He also discusses working with Gary Oldman and why he is wary of his success given the nature of the business he is a part of. Just don't mention Batman!
I imagine the appeal of playing Ricki Tarr was many-fold?
Tom Hardy: Well, it's funny because I knew nothing about it until I'd read the script and I hadn't read the script until I'd met Tomas Alfredson [director] and he asked me and then explained the world of it. So, I wanted to work with Tomas and Gary Oldman and John Hurt and Colin Firth and Toby Jones and Benedict Cumberbatch, who is a good friend, and Stephen Graham and everybody that's involved. So, that was really the appeal of it - if it had been a shopping list I'd have been in there [laughs]! It just so happened to be an extraordinary piece of modern literature that's been turned into a fantastic script with a director who contains such a wealth of knowledge and understanding of his world and what he wants to create. He truly has a vision which, for an actor, is very rare to meet a director like that unless you're very fortunate. It takes an abundance of effort off your shoulders. The only trouble I had through any of it was sitting opposite Gary Oldman and trying to not watch him while I was trying to do my work because I was fascinated by him doing his [laughs].
Did you enjoy the challenge of conveying so much with looks and gestures rather than relying on an overly verbose script? It's a minimalist style that Tomas employs...
Tom Hardy: Not really, that's the job in many ways. I've heard through the grapevine that film captures thought and you fill in the gap... plot point, plot point, plot point. You can operate on a big blank canvas and convey thoughts that the camera will then pick up... as it will also put on several pounds of weight! [Laughs] There are certain things that a camera will do for you.
Did you enjoy exploring the psychology behind the novel - that a great spy is often a failed human being?
Tom Hardy: I haven't read the book. I'm not a big reader of any books. My father has read all of John Le Carre's books but as I was growing up I sort of did a complete U-turn away from academia in any way, shape or form and decided that I was going to be a sportsman. So, I got that wrong as well! But I'm an armchair psychologist, I suppose, and I like to kind of sit around and guess and pretend I know what's going on. So, I think we're all flawed human beings and we all have a cauldron of psychosis which we have to unravel as we grow older and find the way we fit in to live our lives as best as possible. But when you put that into a life or profession whereby people's lives depend on whether your cover is good enough or not and you're a flawed human being underneath it, the layers are obviously more intricately layered and are therefore incandescently interesting to an actor who likes to guess.
How does it feel to be Tom Hardy at the moment? I mean, you're incredibly in demand, you're in some of the biggest and most critically acclaimed films of the moment...
Tom Hardy: It's a good year, it's a good day, and it will inevitably end in some sort of crash at some point, won't it? Careers oscillate, everybody breathes in and out, so I'm sure I'll flop at some point. But today is a good day [laughs].
So, what can we expect from your next role, as Bane in The Dark Knight Rises?
Tom Hardy: Nothing, you can't expect anything from me [smiles].
But you're obviously getting to work with Christopher Nolan again. How do you enjoy that?
Tom Hardy: Amazing! I love Chris Nolan, I'd do anything for him pretty much. I'd whack someone for Chris Nolan!
Aren't you whacking Batman?
Tom Hardy: What are you on about? No, I mean I would actually whack someone [laughs].
Interview: Rob Carnevale Photo: StudioCanal