Tom Hardy’s Battles with Addiction Informed his Creative Choices in ‘Venom’

September 15, 2018

English actor Tom Hardy, who stars as the beastly Marvel character Venom in the highly anticipated film Venom, says his past experiences with addiction informed his nightmarish performance as the infamous antihero. The star sat down with Esquire to talk about his role in the Spider-Man spin-off that will be released on October 5th.

“To me, it’s exciting because it’s a double act,” Hardy explained. Indeed, the actor welcomed the challenge of portraying the dualistic characters: investigative journalist Eddie Brock and his horrific alter-ego Venom. He continued, “[Brock] has an ethical framework, and [Brock and Venom] have to work out how to be together, so they click. He now has a beast who lives rent-free in him. It could be like somebody who’s contracted a tropical disease and gone mad. It’s like acting out mental illness in some aspects, of which I have a fair understanding, having had a certain amount of mental health problems of my own, which are relevant, being an addict. So I might as well f****** use it.”

Hardy is widely celebrated for his commitment to his characters and completely immersing himself in the complexity of his roles. It’s easy for audiences to forget they’re watching an actor when Hardy portrays, for instance, bartender Bob Saginowsky in The Drop or both gruesome Kray twins in Legend.

But Hardy’s career is all the more remarkable considering he spent several years in a steep decline due to addiction. He’s admitted to using a wide assortment of drugs, blacking out often, and revealed that his problems with alcohol and crack cocaine lead him to hit his personal rock bottom in his mid-20s. Describing his struggles as a “Mount Everest that no one else can see,” he mustered up the courage to check himself into rehab at a time when he felt he couldn’t trust anyone to help see him through. But he certainly did manage to turn his life around. He considers himself lucky to still be alive and insists acting helped save him. “I’m really grateful that things that happened in my life, they could have gone the wrong way,” he says.

In a 2013 interview with UK youth charity Prince’s Trust, Hardy admitted what scares him is “not being in control, not knowing, anticipation like waiting for something to go wrong. I’m an addict and an alcoholic, so I have my ups and downs and my head is a bit wonky. So I have to look after that.” In a quest to help others struggling with addiction, Hardy became a Prince’s Trust ambassador, and encouraging people to “Never give up on your dream.” In retrospect, he says, “Everything that’s brought me to where I am today is supposed to happen.”

Now, when it comes to his gritty portrayal as Venom, the London native says, “I’m used to being in the third person. I think I have multiple personas and characters in me that present and represent different parts of me, that I allow to sit in the driving seat. They’re all mine.”

Good thing Hardy is so comfortable inhabiting Venom; he’s set to star as the sentient alien Symbiote in all three movies in the expected franchise. He’ll also be busy portraying the notorious gangster Al Capone in the 2019 biographical crime film Fonzo.

Hardy received an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor for his performance as the ruthless trapper John Fitzgerald in The Revenant. Other celebrated roles by the star include Bane in The Dark Knight Rises, Reman Praetor Shinzon in Star Trek: Nemesis, Eames in the science-fiction thriller Inception, and “Mad” Max Rockatansky in the box-office hit Mad Max: Fury Road. Hardy also portrayed US Army Private John Janovec in the award-winning HBO miniseries Band of Brothers.


To Self-Reflect or Not to Self-Reflect: That is the Question

May 8, 2014

actors-self-reflection.jpgAll actors have unique ways of approaching their work, improving their skill set, and learning from experiences on the job. Take Tom Hardy, for example. The Inception and Locke actor recently expressed a conviction in the importance of watching playbacks of his takes in order to inform his performance. According to Hardy, “I don’t believe in the magic of theater as much as I believe in control and manipulation and illusion and sleight of hand. A lot of actors may think they’re doing something, but what’s coming across is something else entirely.” For this reason, he admits he has problems working with actors who choose not to study and analyze their own performances because, in his eyes, they are essentially refusing to acknowledge their mistakes and make appropriate adjustments.

Hardy would likely not enjoy working with the Inside Llewyn Davis actor, Adam Driver. Although Driver made an exception and opted to watch the Coen brothers’ film because, being a music fan, he “wanted to see the music,” he has specifically avoided viewing other films he’s been in such as Lincoln. “It still hasn’t really sunk in that I was in that movie, and there was something about watching it that I’m just not ready for.” So did he see his performance in the HBO series, Girls? “With ‘Girls,’ after I saw the pilot, I was like, ‘There’s no way I can watch the rest of this series, especially if it continues to go on,’ because I feel like there’s an impulse to try to make it look better or neater or more perfect…And I feel like with the things I’m in that I have watched, I go into a spiral and obsess about all the mistakes I made.” He admits it can take months to recover from such a trauma.

Other actors who don’t like to watch their own performances include The Walking Dead’s Andrew Lincoln, Game of Thrones’ Peter Dinklage, and two actors from Lost–Sayid Jarrah and Matthew Fox. On the other hand, Jason Bateman draws strength from watching his dailies, saying, “I’ve always learned a lot about what I need to do better watching myself because you can feel like you’re communicating X-level of anger or happiness or nervousness, and then you can watch it on film and it’s just not as good. Or big or small as you intended.”

How about you? Do you make it a point to review your takes to assess your abilities, or do you specifically avoid watching your own work? And does it bother you when actors have a different approach from you?