Versatile, unflinching, and constantly unpredictable. A new age chameleon of Hollywood that we can all often recognize through the layers of different characters, he is Tom Hardy. The more I mention his name, the more I realize how large his impact has been on film goers over the last decade. He changes weight, voices, and emotions like a Victoria Secret model, but with even more flare. No matter the genre, Hardy can tackle it. No matter his co-stars, Hardy can tackle it. No matter the directors, Hardy will tackle it.
It’s not too early to rank Hardy as one of the best performers we’ve seen in Hollywood and with such a young career still surrounding him, his roles will only begin to expand into the legacies of other great thespians before and during him as he proves no role is too challenging.
Hardy has now taken on the role as twins, yes I mean twin humans, in his new film coming out later this month Legend as well as act alongside Leonardo DiCaprio in The Revenant. With these two films as well as Mad Max: Fury Road, Hardy has been busy and it will stay that way for years to come, but for now let’s rank his best performances to date…
10. Eames – Inception (2010): As I always say, there’s power through subtly, but subtly is coupled with charm and class for this Tom Hardy character. In their first movie together, Christopher Nolan brought Hardy’s talents alongside DiCaprio which became a clear and natural coupling. Eames is cool and calculated with a cool arc to the story and brings some needed comedic relieve occasionally through this cryptic movie plot.
9. Ricki Tarr – Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011): A film that gets critical praise but little from audiences, it comes to little surprise that you may not have known this fictional character Hardy portrays. In this espionage drama that stars Hardy as well as the main lead played by Gary Oldman, Hardy is damn good, even with that awful wig. Hardy’s Tarr is the character to bring the story to a genesis and to an end. It’s a strongly performed film that may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but Hardy is superb in it.
8. Handsome Bob – RocknRolla (2008): Guy Ritchie is great at bringing style into his films, though he often lacks substance, but with a plethora of unique characters in his 2008 film, Ritchie brings us a confidently written gay enforcer and professional criminal. Handsome Bob is not only funny, but he is also a great story arc with the spider web of events throughout the film. Handsome Bob is acted perfectly because he isn’t disrespectfully depicted, but is also an embrace of what his character is. Hardy is great at bringing those fine lines together to work for the character and the story.
7. Bob Saginowski – The Drop (2014): In a more subtle depiction of gangster life, The Drop adds the talents of one the greatest TV gangsters alongside Hardy’s easy going Bob. James Gandolfini (in his final role) works alongside Hardy’s Bob at a drop bar where gangsters and criminals use as their own secretive bank for payments and deposits. The mystery behind every character, including Bob, is what gives this film legs. It doesn’t have that boisterous tone like a Scorsese pick and neither does Tom Hardy. Instead, we see a dog adopting bartender with a crush on his neighbor live the life of a man with a past.
6. Max Rockatansky – Mad Max: Fury Road (2015): A man of little words, but a man with a mission nonetheless, and that is to survive. Capable enough of taking on a role Mel Gibson excellently portrayed decades prior, Hardy as Max brought us one of the most high voltage action films anyone has seen in cinema today. Sure the film was Charlize Theron’s as a whole, but it wouldn’t have worked without Hardy as Max and the physicality he brings.
5. Forrest Bondurant – Lawless (2012): Using his skills as the tough and intimidating figure we know of today, Hardy’s Forrest Bondurant is nothing like the other famous movie Forest we know of today. Instead, Bondurant is the brains between three moonshining brothers who hold a legacy in the backwoods of Virginia. Surviving with his brothers in more ways than one, the legend of Forrest Bondurant in the film is apparent and lives on with you after you’ve seen the film.
4. Bane – The Dark Knight Rises (2012): One of the most quotable characters in cinema history. His eyes do all the talking as the masked man who broke the bat in Christopher Nolan’s version of the infamous Batman villain. One of the most dramatic weight gains for a role we’ve seen in recent years, Hardy packed on pounds and frightened and entertained us all as the hyper intelligent villain who felt he was truly the hero of the story. Though not in the best film of three Dark Knight films by most standards, Hardy as Bane is the constant standout and one of the most iconic figures in cinema today.
3. Tommy Reirdan Conlon – Warrior (2011): Set in my home-state of Pennsylvania, Warrior is the classic fighter film, but with a modern twist. Instead of the fighters being classic boxers like we’re used to, we get a violent depiction of cage fighter aka UFC fighters with brothers being played by Hardy and Joel Edgerton. Both are great performances that are overlooked at since the film is still young, but Hardy steals the show with another monstrous transformation as a fist throwing soldier who’s fighting for more than himself.
2. Ivan Locke – Locke (2013): How does someone make a film set in real time — in a car mind you — make a film riveting and intense? Ask Tom Hardy. I knew this guy was a star, but this was the film that made me realize how great he truly is. It’s not his most transformative role, but what he did with a character and story that is set only from the inside of a car dumbfounds me to this day. He brings humanistic emotion to his character who is a man trying to correct a wrong, but he is also a loving, but flawed character. Locke is a film I recommend seeing once because it is Hardy showing how talented an actor he is.
1. Charles Bronson – Bronson (2008): If ever there was a role that you turn to for confirmation of an actors excellence it is Hardy’s turn as infamous prisoner Charles Bronson. Directed as a darkly funny biopic on the life of one of Britain’s most violent and notorious criminals, Bronson is the film that likely got Hardy the role as Bane in later years. His physical nature as well as his charisma and lunacy all wrapped in one, Hardy put on crazy weight for the film and looked like a Charlie Chapman character met Hardy’s Tommy Reirdon Conlan from Warrior. It’s a great performance that gets overshadowed by his Bane performance in The Dark Knight Rises.