Five minutes with man of the moment Tom Hardy.
He’s Bane in The Dark Knight Rises, he’s set to go apocalyptic as Mad Max, and this month, British actor Tom Hardy is cracking skulls in Prohibition-era drama Lawless.
He tells us about red beards, cooking and getting kicked in the plums.
ESQUIRE: In Lawless, you play a bare-knuckle boxing bootlegger. Is Forrest Bondurant one of your most brutal roles yet?
TOM HARDY: He does some pretty horrific things. From cutting people’s testicles off to using knuckledusters. And yet this is a man who also mothers two boys, his brothers. He has to feed them, look after them; he doesn’t drink. He’s a carer.
ESQ: He’s a tough guy in a cardie. Did you like that idea?
TH: He’s a specific type of man. What interested me was the female role in this guy. And what the nature of violence is to men. Non-egotistical violence, Non-macho violence. Violence from within the cardigan.
ESQ: You’re shooting Mad Max. What can you tell us?
TH: I have to grow a beard for the character. It’s really ginger and wild. But I don’t give a fuck about it, personally. My fiancée doesn’t give a fuck about it. She’d like to have my lips back. I’d like to feel hers! But on the whole, the beard is welcomed by a lot of people.
ESQ: Do you have a list of goals to achieve in life?
TH: There are certain things I want to achieve by the time I’m 40. I’d like a black belt in Brazilian jujitsu. And I’d like to go down the Congo. There are things I want to do.
ESQ: You play a lot of intense characters. What do you do to unwind?
TH: Xbox. Flashpoint: Dragon Rising. I’m not really good, but it helps me to fire-gaze. And I watch Come Dine with Me with my wife. Keep it real. Let’s be honest, that shit is good.
ESQ: Have you ever had any disasters in the kitchen?
TH: The one I did have was self-inflicted. My ex was cooking and I saw these sweet peppers on the side.
I was like, “What are these?” She said, “Don’t touch those. Those are Scotch bonnets.” Y’know when women can be knowing? It immediately brings out the “fuck you” in me. So I was like, “And what is a ‘Scotch bonnet’ when it is at home?”
She said,“Well, actually, it is the hottest chilli known to man.” At which point, I was like, “Yeah? Well, fuck ’em!”
ESQ: So you ate one?
TH: I bit into one. And it was like a fucking Harrier jet took off in my mouth and just napalmed my throat, my eyes, my nose. My face fucking blew up.
“Fucking Jesus Christ! How do I stop this?” She said, “You drink beer.” I’ve been sober for 10 years. I was like, “Is there... any... other... way?” I was crawling on the floor. She was absolutely right. Stay away from the Scotch bonnets.
The Hardy they come: Tom as Bane in The Dark Knight Rises
ESQ: In Bronson, Warrior, The Dark Knight Rises, you’ve dished out a lot of punishment on-screen. What’s the worst injury you’ve ever had?
TH: I managed to survive my entire life without getting kicked in the testicles. And then one day I was changing the nappy of my son. It was a sock dance. I put him on his back and he was moving his feet about.
I was like, “Come on...” and he brought his heel down — and clipped the top of my left testicle. It took me to the fucking floor, man.
ESQ: So he sucker punched you, really...
TH: I didn’t see it coming, I was loose. And I took it straight on the bell. I thought, “Jesus. That’s what it’s like to be kicked in the balls.” Excruciating agony. And my son is only a foot-and-a-half long.
ESQ: You’d really never been kicked in the clackers before?
TH: Well, when I was doing Bronson, I was arse-naked with six guys pretending to kick the shit out of me in a cage. Bam, bam, bam... and this one guy kicks me in the testicles. It was full impact.
I saw my testicles go up, inside my arsehole, and then come back out. Time slows down when shit happens that’s serious. I thought, “Jesus, I’m going to pass out...” Nothing happened. I didn’t feel anything. I must have these super-testicles. A year later, my son took me to the floor.
Lawless is out on 7 September