Tom Hardy‘s career got off to a solid start for an unknown actor when he made both his film and television debuts in 2001 as part of two acclaimed ensemble war dramas after landing small parts in Ridley Scott’s Black Hawk Down and the Tom Hanks/Steven Spielberg epic Band of Brothers, following it up with a villainous turn opposite Patrick Stewart’s Jean-Luc Picard and the Enterprise crew in Star Trek: Nemesis.
Unfortunately, it was a long time before he recaptured that momentum, and Hardy’s rise to prominence as one of the most interesting, dynamic, dedicated and committed talents of his generation didn’t really begin until his powerhouse performance in criminal biopic Bronson in 2008. In between, he landed some smaller supporting roles in Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette, Guy Ritchie’s RocknRolla and Matthew Vaughn’s directorial debut Layer Cake, which is now streaming on Netflix.
It’s not a flashy performance, or even a particularly substantial one given that Tom Hardy takes eighth billing in the credits and the twisting crime caper is very much all about Daniel Craig’s unnamed protagonist, but it was a shot in the arm for his prospects nonetheless. The actor might be little more than a glorified henchman, but he’s clearly relishing the chance to get his foot back in the industry door.
The pic follows Craig’s mysterious drug dealer, who plans to retire from his criminal life before getting drawn into a kidnapping case that involves a gangster’s teenage daughter and a huge shipment of ecstasy, so there are obviously double, triple and quadruple crosses afoot. Looking back, Layer Cake was pivotal to careers of both the leading man and director that led to Bond, Kingsman, X-Men and more, making it one of the most important and yet unsung British films of the 2000s.