15 Surprising Facts About Tom Hardy

NIKLAS HALLE'N/AFP/Getty Images
NIKLAS HALLE'N/AFP/Getty Images

You don't have to be a Hollywood insider to know that Tom Hardy is widely considered to be one of the most talented actors of his generation … and that he has a reputation for not always being willing to play by Hollywood’s rules.

Since making his onscreen debut in 2001, the London native has gone on to collaborate with some of the world’s most talented filmmakers, including Ridley Scott, George Miller, Alejandro González Iñárritu, Sofia Coppola, and Christopher Nolan. He also created, produced, and starred in the FX hit Taboo and earned an Oscar nomination for his role in The Revenant—and all of this before hitting the big 4-0. 

Now, six years after making his mark in the comic book movie world playing Batman's nemesis Bane in The Dark Knight Rises (2012), Hardy is at it again as a journalist-alien hybrid in Venom, which arrives in theaters this week. Which gives you plenty of time to read up on Hardy's past life as a model, his struggles with addiction, and why he thinks heroes are "boring."

1. HE WON A TELEVISION MODELING CONTEST.

Technically, Tom Hardy’s onscreen debut came in 1998, when he took part in a modeling contest on the British morning show The Big Breakfast. Among the facts we learned about the then-21-year-old: He was a drama student who idolized Gary Oldman, liked Eddie Izzard, wanted to write and direct his own short films, and didn’t like football. And yes, he won.

2. HE MADE HIS ONSCREEN DEBUT IN BAND OF BROTHERS.

In September of 1998, shortly after he began attending the Drama Centre London, Hardy dropped out when he was offered a role in the Steven Spielberg-produced WWII miniseries Band of Brothers (2001). When asked about the experience by IGN in 2002, Hardy said that, “Band of Brothers was my first job so I was virtually out of the frying pan and into the fire, really. I'd not had previous experience with working in front of the camera, so there was dealing with that. Also, I had the research material—not that I'd need it. I mean, I was in two episodes and had 12 lines. That was the sum total of work [I] had to do.”

Hardy made his big-screen debut in 2001 as well, playing Twombly in Ridley Scott’s Black Hawk Down. “I was the Ranger who got left behind,” he told IGN. “He was sort of, if you could call it, comic relief to [a] very precarious situation.”

3. HE WENT TO SCHOOL WITH MICHAEL FASSBENDER.

While attending the Drama Centre London, Hardy looked up to a fellow student who was two years older than him: Michael Fassbender. “He was a really serious method actor and we used to watch him and think, ‘F**k, man! He’s the sh*t!,’” Hardy told The Daily Beast. “He was in an Irish play about this guy who came back from the First World War who was a great athlete but ended up in a wheelchair, but at lunchtime he wouldn’t come out of character and was always in his wheelchair and we’d be like, ‘Dude! Just order your lunch and come along! We’ve got an hour before we have to go back to class! But he was the best actor in the school.” (Fassbender, too, landed a role in Band of Brothers.)

4. HARDY REPLACED FASSBENDER IN TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY.

Though their careers have taken different paths, Hardy and Fassbender overlapped a bit in 2010, when Hardy replaced Fassbender as British operative “Tricky” Ricky Tarr in Tomas Alfredson’s 2011 adaptation of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, a Cold War thriller based on the John le Carré novel.

5. HE IDOLIZES GARY OLDMAN.

Tom Hardy and Gary Oldman in 'Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy' (2011)
Jack English, Focus Features

That aforementioned modeling contest wouldn’t be the only time Hardy expressed his admiration of Gary Oldman. In 2011, he told ShortList that, “Gary Oldman is my absolute complete and utter hero. He’s the f**king man. I look at him and I want to be like that for my generation—I want to have that same quality. He’s incredible.”

That same year, Hardy got the chance to star alongside Oldman in the Oscar-nominated Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. “There is a definite ‘hang on a minute’ [moment], but I’ve got past the star-struck part now,” Hardy said of getting the chance to act opposite Oldman. They have since worked together on three more films: Lawless (2012), The Dark Knight Rises (2012), and Child 44 (2015).

6. HE BATTLED DRUG AND ALCOHOL ADDICTION AT AN EARLY AGE.

With his star on the rise, Hardy was forced to confront an issue he had been dealing with since his teens: a serious alcohol and crack addiction. After shooting Star Trek: Nemesis (2002), Hardy checked himself into rehab. “I didn’t want anyone to know I was out of control, but I couldn’t hide it,” Hardy said in 2014. “I went in thinking I’d do it for a little bit until I can go out and drink and people forgive me. But I did my 28 days, and after listening to people who had been through similar circumstances I realized I did have a problem.” Hardy has been sober since 2003.

7. HE HAS DUG INTO HIS PAST FOR CERTAIN ROLES.

When discussing his role in 2011’s Warrior, in which he plays the son of an alcoholic former boxer played by Nick Nolte, Hardy told ShortList that, “In the [alcohol abuse] scenes with Nick Nolte, if you’ve been to those depths, experience allows you to think ‘this is right’ or ‘this is wrong’ and know how to react. There’s only so much imagination you can use before you have to go out and live life again. You see these kid actors who work from 10 to 21 and then all of a sudden they disappear for a bit. They’ve got nothing to draw upon apart from a life of working, so you need to go out and catch up and then come back in again.”

8. HE ALMOST PLAYED MR. DARCY IN JOE WRIGHT’S PRIDE & PREJUDICE

Hardy auditioned to play Mr. Darcy in Joe Wright’s 2005 adaptation of Pride & Prejudice, starring Keira Knightley. The role ultimately went to Matthew Macfadyen, while a studio head told Hardy that, “Babe, every woman in the world has an impression of who Darcy is and you’re just not it.”

“That hurt, that really hurt,” Hardy told The Telegraph in 2009. “I’d worn a blue shirt and jeans and a blue blazer and been doing my best Hugh Grant impression. But now I was back to playing the wonky skewiff-teeth kid with the bow legs.”

9. HE GAINED MORE THAN 40 POUNDS FOR BRONSON … BY EATING CHOCOLATE AND PIZZA.

Tom Hardy in 'Bronson' (2008)
Magnolia Pictures

Hardy first gained international attention for playing the title role in Nicolas Winding Refn’s Bronson (2008), an in-your-face biopic about Michael Gordon Peterson, who has been called both the “most violent prisoner in Britain” and “Britain's most notorious prisoner.” He gained 42 pounds to play the role.

“I was a mess after Bronson,” he told ShortList. “I got really fat. I was a real road crash ... By the time I went to Pittsburgh to film Warrior I had two hours of boxing, two hours of Muay Thai, two hours of Jiu-Jitsu, two hours of choreography, and two hours of weightlifting a day, every day for eight weeks. I don’t know how people do that every day. Bronson was fun. For Bronson I just ate chocolate and pizza, lifted [my friend] Pnut up and down the stairs, played Xbox, shaved my head and grew a mustache."

10. HE ATTRIBUTES HIS ACTING TALENT TO BEING A GOOD LIAR.

When asked about how he ended up pursuing a career in acting, Hardy said that, “In the end there was nothing else I could do. I had a busy head and I didn’t really want to do things that I found boring. The only thing that kept my attention was to play and have fun and manipulate. I’ve always been a liar, always been able to manipulate. I pretty much get whatever I want.”

“Acting really is a mixture of bullsh*tting and manipulating and the study of action-reaction,” he added. “And camouflage—hiding yourself in other languages, bodies, and shapes. Acting channeled me into something. I found some self-esteem and thought, ‘I’m actually quite good at something.’”

11. HE’S AWARE THAT HE HAS A REPUTATION FOR BEING CHALLENGING.

Over the years, Hardy has developed a reputation for being an intense collaborator—and not always in a good way. Hardy knows what people think of him, but he doesn’t know that it’s well deserved. “There's this myth, which is quite asinine, that circulates about me—usually by those who haven't worked with me,” he told The Hollywood Reporter. “There's only one thing worse than being talked about and that's not being talked about in this game so I'd rather it be that, I guess. But there are other people who I work with consistently who know that's not the case—who just wouldn't risk having somebody like that in their midst because there's too much at stake. Obviously you're going to rub people the wrong way … and I've been a dick. But then, who hasn't?”

12. IT’S HARD FOR HIM TO CRY ON CUE … BUT MR. HOLLAND’S OPUS MAKES HIM WEEPY.

For an actor with a reputation for being a tough guy, it’s probably not surprising that Hardy can’t cry on cue. “I find crying difficult,” he told ShortList. “It takes a long time for me to go. And I won’t know what will send me. I’m quite sentimental. If my son tells me he loves me, that will make me cry. Mr. Holland’s Opus, unbelievably, broke me. A random anomaly. Bambi would probably do me. Or Shrek."

13. HE PREFERS PLAYING VILLAINS, BECAUSE HEROES ARE “BORING.”

 Actor Tom Hardy arrives at the Winter TCA Tour FX Starwalk at Langham Hotel on January 12, 2017 in Pasadena, California
Matt Winkelmeyer, Getty Images

When discussing his penchant for playing villains, Hardy told The Hollywood Reporter, “I play a lot of scary blokes, and there are probably a few reasons why. First, villains are much more interesting than hero leads, who are, for the most part, really boring. The thought of going into work day in and day out to play someone who is just mind-numbingly boring fills me with dread, so I don't bother. Another part of it is when I was younger I remember being frightened a lot—of being small and skinny and vulnerable and feeling that I could have been preyed upon easily. So, everything that I play is what scared me.”

14. HUGH JACKMAN THINKS HE’D MAKE A GREAT WOLVERINE.

With Hugh Jackman’s run as Wolverine winding down, MTV UK asked the actor who he thought might be able to fill his mutant shoes. Jackman did not hesitate to suggest Hardy for the part.

15. HARDY THINKS HE’D MAKE A BETTER JAMES BOND.

When asked about the chances of returning for a fifth go at playing James Bond in 2015, current 007 Daniel Craig famously stated that he’d “rather … slash my wrists. No, not at the moment. Not at all. That’s fine. I’m over it at the moment. We’re done. All I want to do is move on.” Ever since, fans and the media have been discussing who could be the next James Bond. Tom Hiddleston, Idris Elba, and Henry Cavill have become a few of the most frequently talked about replacements. But when Hardy made it known that he’d be game to take over the role, if Christopher Nolan would direct, Hollywood took interest.

“You know, there’s a saying amongst us in the fraternity of acting, and in the fellowship of my peer group, that if you talk about it you’re automatically out of the race,” Hardy said when asked about the possibility of becoming Bond. “So I can’t possibly comment on that one! If I mention it, it’s gone. But Chris Nolan, what a fantastic director for a Bond movie. Because Daniel [Craig] is so good, and what [Sam] Mendes, and [producer] Barbara [Broccoli] have done has been so impressive, that it would be a very hard reimagination to follow after. I wonder what the next installment of that franchise would become, and I think when you mention someone like Christopher Nolan, that’s a very powerful figure to bring into that world who could bring something new and create something profound … again.”

When asked whether he’d be into reinventing another franchise, Nolan told Playboy “definitely … I’ve spoken to the producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson over the years. I deeply love the character, and I’m always excited to see what they do with it. Maybe one day that would work out. You’d have to be needed, if you know what I mean. It has to need reinvention; it has to need you. And they’re getting along very well.”

But fans will have to wait and see. In August 2017, Craig confirmed that he will be returning for Bond 25.

10 Products for a Better Night's Sleep

Amazon/Comfort Spaces
Amazon/Comfort Spaces

Getting a full eight hours of sleep can be tough these days. If you’re having trouble catching enough Zzzs, consider giving these highly rated and recommended products a try.

1. Everlasting Comfort Pure Memory Foam Knee Pillow; $25

Everlasting Comfort Knee Pillow
Everlasting Comfort/Amazon

For side sleepers, keeping the spine, hips, and legs aligned is key to a good night’s rest—and a pain-free morning after. Everlasting Comfort’s memory foam knee pillow is ergonomically designed to fit between the knees or thighs to ensure proper alignment. One simple but game-changing feature is the removable strap, which you can fasten around one leg; this keeps the pillow in place even as you roll at night, meaning you don’t have to wake up to adjust it (or pick it up from your floor). Reviewers call the pillow “life-changing” and “the best knee pillow I’ve found.” Plus, it comes with two pairs of ear plugs.

Buy it: Amazon

2. Letsfit White Noise Machine; $21

Letsfit White Noise Machine
Letsfit/Amazon

White noise machines: They’re not just for babies! This Letsfit model—which is rated 4.7 out of five with nearly 3500 reviews—has 14 potential sleep soundtracks, including three white noise tracks, to better block out everything from sirens to birds that chirp enthusiastically at dawn (although there’s also a birds track, if that’s your thing). It also has a timer function and a night light.

Buy it: Amazon

3. ECLIPSE Blackout Curtains; $16

Eclipse Black Out Curtains
Eclipse/Amazon

According to the National Sleep Foundation, too much light in a room when you’re trying to snooze is a recipe for sleep disaster. These understated polyester curtains from ECLIPSE block 99 percent of light and reduce noise—plus, they’ll help you save on energy costs. "Our neighbor leaves their backyard light on all night with what I can only guess is the same kind of bulb they use on a train headlight. It shines across their yard, through ours, straight at our bedroom window," one Amazon reviewer who purchased the curtains in black wrote. "These drapes block the light completely."

Buy it: Amazon

4. JALL Wake Up Light Sunrise Alarm Clock; $38

JALL Wake Up Light Sunrise Alarm Clock
JALL/Amazon

Being jarred awake by a blaring alarm clock can set the wrong mood for the rest of your day. Wake up in a more pleasant way with this clock, which gradually lights up between 10 percent and 100 percent in the 30 minutes before your alarm. You can choose between seven different colors and several natural sounds as well as a regular alarm beep, but why would you ever use that? “Since getting this clock my sleep has been much better,” one reviewer reported. “I wake up not feeling tired but refreshed.”

Buy it: Amazon

5. Philips SmartSleep Wake-Up Light; $200

Philips SmartSleep Wake-Up Light
Philips/Amazon

If you’re looking for an alarm clock with even more features, Philips’s SmartSleep Wake-Up Light is smartphone-enabled and equipped with an AmbiTrack sensor, which tracks things like bedroom temperature, humidity, and light levels, then gives recommendations for how you can get a better night’s rest.

Buy it: Amazon

6. Slumber Cloud Stratus Sheet Set; $159

Stratus sheets from Slumber Cloud.
Slumber Cloud

Being too hot or too cold can kill a good night’s sleep. The Good Housekeeping Institute rated these sheets—which are made with Outlast fibers engineered by NASA—as 2020’s best temperature-regulating sheets.

Buy it: SlumberCloud

7. Comfort Space Coolmax Sheet Set; $29-$40

Comfort Spaces Coolmax Sheets
Comfort Spaces/Amazon

If $159 sheets are out of your price range, the GHI recommends these sheets from Comfort Spaces, which are made with moisture-wicking Coolmax microfiber. Depending on the size you need, they range in price from $29 to $40.

Buy it: Amazon

8. Coop Home Goods Eden Memory Foam Pillow; $80

Coop Eden Pillow
Coop Home Goods/Amazon

This pillow—which has a 4.5-star rating on Amazon—is filled with memory foam scraps and microfiber, and comes with an extra half-pound of fill so you can add, or subtract, the amount in the pillow for ultimate comfort. As a bonus, the pillows are hypoallergenic, mite-resistant, and washable.

Buy it: Amazon

9. Baloo Weighted Blanket; $149-$169

Baloo Weighted Blanket
Baloo/Amazon

Though the science is still out on weighted blankets, some people swear by them. Wirecutter named this Baloo blanket the best, not in small part because, unlike many weighted blankets, it’s machine-washable and -dryable. It’s currently available in 12-pound ($149) twin size and 20-pound ($169) queen size. It’s rated 4.7 out of five stars on Amazon, with one reviewer reporting that “when it's spread out over you it just feels like a comfy, snuggly hug for your whole body … I've found it super relaxing for falling asleep the last few nights, and it looks nice on the end of the bed, too.” 

Buy it: Amazon 

10. Philips Smartsleep Snoring Relief Band; $200

Philips SmartSleep Snoring Relief Band
Philips/Amazon

Few things can disturb your slumber—and that of the ones you love—like loudly sawing logs. Philips’s Smartsleep Snoring Relief Band is designed for people who snore when they’re sleeping on their backs, and according to the company, 86 percent of people who used the band reported reduced snoring after a month. The device wraps around the torso and is equipped with a sensor that delivers vibrations if it detects you moving to sleep on your back; those vibrations stop when you roll onto your side. The next day, you can see how many hours you spent in bed, how many of those hours you spent on your back, and your response rate to the vibrations. The sensor has an algorithm that notes your response rate and tweaks the intensity of vibrations based on that. “This device works exactly as advertised,” one Amazon reviewer wrote. “I’d say it’s perfect.”

Buy it: Amazon

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8 Facts About David Bowie's 'Space Oddity'

Express/Express/Getty Images
Express/Express/Getty Images

On July 20, 1969, astronauts walked on the Moon for the first time. Just a few weeks earlier, another space-age event had rocked the world: David Bowie’s single “Space Oddity” hit airwaves. The song, whose lyrics tell the story of an astronaut’s doomed journey into space, helped propel the artist to icon status, and five decades later, it’s still one of his most popular works. 

1. "Space Oddity" was inspired by 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Many listeners assumed that "Space Oddity" was riffing on the Apollo 11 Moon landing of 1969, but it was actually inspired by a Stanley Kubrick film released a year earlier. Bowie watched 2001: A Space Odyssey multiple times when it premiered in theaters in 1968. “It was the sense of isolation I related to,” Bowie told Classic Rock in 2012. “I found the whole thing amazing. I was out of my gourd, very stoned when I went to see it—several times—and it was really a revelation to me. It got the song flowing.”

2. "Space Oddity" was also inspired by heartbreak.

The track was also partly inspired by the more universal experience of heartbreak. Bowie wrote the song after ending his relationship with actress Hermione Farthingale. The break inspired several songs, including “Letter to Hermione” and “Life on Mars,” and in “Space Oddity,” Bowie’s post-breakup loneliness and melancholy is especially apparent.

3. "Space Oddity" helped him sign a record deal.

In 1969, a few years into David Bowie’s career, the musician recorded a demo tape with plans to use it to land a deal with Mercury Records. That tape featured an early iteration of “Space Oddity,” and based on the demo, Mercury signed him for a one-album deal. But the song failed to win over one producer. Tony Visconti, who produced Bowie’s self-titled 1969 album, thought the song was a cheap attempt to cash in on the Apollo 11 mission, and he tapped someone else to produce that particular single.

4. The BBC played "Space Oddity" during the Moon landing.

"Space Oddity" was released on July 11, 1969—just five days before NASA launched Apollo 11. The song doesn’t exactly sound like promotional material for the mission. It ends on a somber note, with Major Tom "floating in a tin can" through space. But the timing and general subject matter were too perfect for the BBC to resist. The network played the track over footage of the Moon landing. Bowie later remarked upon the situation, saying, "Obviously, some BBC official said, 'Oh, right then, that space song, Major Tom, blah blah blah, that’ll be great. 'Um, but he gets stranded in space, sir.' Nobody had the heart to tell the producer that."

5. David Bowie recorded an Italian version of "Space Oddity."

The same year "Space Oddity" was released, a different version David Bowie recorded with Italian lyrics was played by radio stations in Italy. Instead of directly translating the English words, the Italian songwriter Mogul was hired to write new lyrics practically from scratch. "Ragazzo Solo, Ragazza Sola" ("Lonely Boy, Lonely Girl") is a straightforward love song, and Major Tom is never mentioned.

6. Major Tom appeared in future songs.

Major Tom, the fictional astronaut at the center of "Space Oddity," is one of the most iconic characters invented for a pop song. It took a decade for him to resurface in David Bowie’s discography. In his 1980 single "Ashes to Ashes," the artists presents a different version of the character, singing: "We know Major Tom's a junkie/Strung out in heaven's high/Hitting an all-time low." Bowie also references Major Tom in "Hallo Spaceboy" from the 1995 album Outside.

7. "Space Oddity" is featured in Chris Hadfield's ISS music video.

When choosing a song for the first music filmed in space, Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield naturally went with David Bowie’s out-of-this-world anthem. The video above was recorded on the International Space Station in 2013, with Hadfield playing guitar and singing from space and other performers providing musical accompaniment from Earth. Some lyrics were tweaked for the cover. Hadfield mentions the "Soyuz hatch" of the capsule that would eventually shuttle him to Earth.

8. "Space Oddity" played on the Tesla that Elon Musk sent to space.

Dummy in Tesla roadster in space with Earth in background.
SpaceX via Getty Images

In 2018, Elon Musk used SpaceX's Falcon Heavy rocket to launch his Tesla Roadster into space. The car was decked out with pop culture Easter eggs—according to Musk, "Space Oddity" was playing over the car’s radio system during the historic journey. The dummy’s name, Starman, is the name of another space-themed song on Bowie's 1972 masterpiece The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars.