He’s Bane in The Dark Knight Rises and he’s set to go apocalyptic as Mad Max. Here, 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