Tom Hardy, one of Hollywood’s most promising up-and-coming actors, is about to appear in the biggest film of his career: The Dark Knight Rises. Though not a household name just yet, expect that to change when the film exponentially increases his star power. Audiences around the world are eager to see how the young British actor performs as Bane, the primary villain in The Dark Knight Rises, and on July 20th we will get the chance.
Yet to say Tom Hardy has big shoes to fill would be a massive understatement. He’s following in the footsteps of Heath Ledger, who not only won an Oscar for his portrayal of The Joker in 2008’s The Dark Knight, but also crafted one of the best on screen villains of all time. Ledger set the bar so high that many doubt Hardy will be able to deliver a more impressive villain.
That being said, Hardy is surely aware of this. Director Christopher Nolan knows this as well. Warner Bros. knows this and everyone working on the film knows this. We all know that Ledger gave a legendary performance and that audiences have extraordinary expectations of Hardy. If one remembers, though, many had doubts as to whether Ledger would deliver back in 2008, and as previously stated, we all know how that turned out.
Personally, I love Tom Hardy, but at first, I too felt skeptical. Like so many others, I wondered if Hardy could live up to Ledger and make Bane as memorable as The Joker. Though not fully convinced at first, the recent marketing blitz from Warner Bros – including photos, footage, and promotional material – has me thinking that Hardy may truly have what it takes.
In fact, I’m even at the point where I’m asking myself the following question: Can Tom Hardy expect an Oscar for The Dark Knight Rises?
For those still unfamiliar with Tom Hardy, he’s an actor of incredible pedigree. He broke out with 2009′s Bronson and started his rise to fame with 2010′s Inception. Since then, he’s been on a roll: 2011 saw him give two very fine performances in Warrior and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy; this year, we’ve seen him charm with This Means War, we’re looking forward to his lead role in John Hillcoat’s Lawless, and of course, he’s aiming to break the bat in The Dark Knight Rises. Looking ahead, the actor is attached to tons of projects and his profile seems to rise further every day.
Now, if you’ve seen any of the aforementioned films you’ll know why this man is so impressive, but furthermore, he’s a remarkable talent because of what he had to overcome to get to where he is. For those that don’t know, Hardy battled alcoholism and a crack cocaine addiction and spent time in rehab. He didn’t always have it easy, and his career path wasn’t always set out for him. He worked hard to get to where he is today.
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That aside, based on his acting talent alone, the man deserves a little golden statue. I found his work to be exceptional in both Bronson and Warrior, and though his part in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy was vastly overshadowed by Gary Oldman‘s work in the lead role, he still delivered strongly.
Of course, he also stole just about every scene from Leonardo DiCaprio in Inception as well. Like I said above, Hardy deserves an Oscar, and make no mistake, by the end of his acting career he will have one. The question on my mind though is whether he can get one for The Dark Knight Rises. Nolan directed Heath Ledger to one in The Dark Knight but can he do the same for Hardy?
Heath Ledger turned in what was not just the greatest performance in a comic-book film ever, but one of the best supporting actor performances in recent memory. It was breathtaking to see what he did with the role. He shocked everyone and silenced those who doubted him. As I mentioned before, when he was first announced for the role, many were skeptical.
The same can be said for Hardy; the actor knows how much pressure is mounting on him and because of that, he’s going to give it his all. We can already see that he’s undergone a tremendous physical transformation – something Ledger did for the Joker – and his commitment and dedication to the role is definitely there.
Granted, he hasn’t “disappeared” into the character as much as Ledger did, but he can still hardly be described as ‘recognizable.’ That alone though won’t do it for Hardy. The actor has another ace up his sleeve that is going to push him closer to the Oscar podium: Christopher Nolan.
Nolan seems to have created a compelling role for Hardy, just like he did for Ledger. Bane won’t be just any comic book villain; I expect Nolan’s incarnation of the character will be similar to what he came up with for the Joker.
Ledger played a terrifying psychopath who was made all the more terrifying because Nolan built the character as someone who, simply put, executes evil just to observe the consequences. He’s anarchic for his own amusement. His very presence on screen induced a sense of sheer dread, similar to what audiences feel with classic villains like Hannibal Lecter. The Joker, as Nolan created him, is truly a frightening character.
A lot of the fear that the Joker exudes come from his mysterious background as well. The Joker offers some minor insights but for the most part, Nolan played it vague. We never really got an origin story and we don’t know why he is the way he is. All we know is that he exists, and as the film progresses, we see that he exists because Batman exists. He needs Batman and Batman needs the Joker. That’s why their struggle is so compelling.
Anarchy and chaos were what the Joker represented, and he was entirely unpredictable. He had no values or broader objectives other than anarchy and destruction.
I believe that Nolan will give us something similar with Bane, a villain so foreign to our own experience that we, as the audience, cannot grasp him; instead, we shall feel disoriented and truly frightened. That’s why the Joker worked so well as a villain, and I believe Bane will be similar in that regard. He differs greatly from the Joker, of course, but I think that those same things that made the Joker so terrifying will be there with Bane, albeit slightly varied.
I digress. My point is that Tom Hardy is going to have a very meaty role to sink his teeth into, and with his acting chops bringing Nolan’s incarnation to life, he may find himself with an Oscar, or at least a nomination.
Many have argued that Ledger’s Oscar win only occurred because of his untimely death. And while those circumstances likely played a part, it really was his achievement in acting that the Academy honored that night. They weren’t honouring the man for his tragedy, but rather the performance that transformed him into one of the most frightening villains in movie history.
To sum it up, here’s what it comes down to: Yes, there will be comparisons between Hardy and Ledger. It’s inevitable. But in the end, it’s not a question of who’s the better villain. Hardy himself put it best in a recent interview when he said:
It’s not a question of whose talent is greater or whose work is greater. It’s just trying to be the best that we can be, rather then trying to be better then somebody else. I’m not trying to be better than somebody else. What he did was amazing. That’s that. I’ve got a part I’ve got to play, and I want to play my part.
It’s likely that Ledger’s performance will overshadow Hardy’s, but come Oscar season, voters’ minds shouldn’t be thinking like that. Hardy, while still more or less a rookie in his acting career, does have Oscar potential, and though it may be a stretch to say he deserves a little gold statue for his role as Bane, I don’t think talk of a nomination is too premature.
He’s proven himself time and time again and his talents, mixed with Nolan’s vision of what is sure to be a fascinating, frightening character – just like the Joker – could make for some bonafide Oscar material.
Of course, this is all just speculation. Having not seen the film, I really can’t speak to Hardy’s role or his performance. That being said, just going off everything we know so far, I think this role does have the potential to bring the young actor some well deserved awards attention.
As I close out this article, I ask you dear reader, what do you think? Am I showing too much of my fanboy side, or could Hardy deliver one of the defining performances of his career in The Dark Knight Rises.
Let us know what you think in the comments.Previous