How Tom Hardy went from an unknown actor struggling with addiction to an Oscar nominee

The 38-year-old is nominated for Best Supporting Actor Oscar after starring alongside Leonardo DiCaprio in The Revenant

Anjelica Oswald
Sunday 28 February 2016 15:09
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After heading to rehab in 2003, Hardy got his life and career back on track
After heading to rehab in 2003, Hardy got his life and career back on track

Last year was very good for Tom Hardy.

The 38-year-old actor was the star of the "Mad Max" reboot, taking over for Mel Gibson in "Mad Max: Fury Road" — which landed 10 Oscar nominations and was a box-office smash.

He also sang in a film adaptation of a musical, played notorious English twin gangsters, and landed his first Oscar nomination for his incredible supporting performance in "The Revenant."

His first role was in HBO's "Band of Brothers," and he made his film debut in "Black Hawk Down," but Hardy was struggling through alcohol and drug addiction. After heading to rehab in 2003, Hardy got his life and career back on track and hasn't stopped since.

He's been lauded for portraying the infamous criminal Charles Bronson, and he's perhaps best known as the villainous Bane in "The Dark Knight Rises" — though his face is obscured. He learned how to cage-fight for "Warrior" and was a Jewish gangster in the series "Peaky Blinders." Next, Hardy will be producing and starring in the BBC One/FX series "Taboo" and starring in Christopher Nolan's "Dunkirk."

Here's a look back at Hardy's career and how he became one of the best actors of his generation:

Edward Thomas Hardy was born on September 15, 1977, and grew up in East Sheen, London.

Getty Images

He scored a brief contract with Models One after winning a modeling competition on "The Big Breakfast." He was 20.

Source: Esquire UK

He was expelled from public school when he was younger for stealing. After two attempts, he ended up attending the Drama Centre in London, whose alumni include fellow Oscar nominee Michael Fassbender and Colin Firth.

Getty Images

Sources: Esquire UK, The Guardian

While he was a student, he landed his first role as John Janovec on HBO's "Band of Brothers."

HBO

Sources: Esquire UK

His next role was also his film debut: Ridley Scott's "Black Hawk Down."

Columbia Pictures

Shortly thereafter, he portrayed Shinzon, a clone of Patrick Stewart's character, in "Star Trek: Nemesis." The film was the last to star the cast of "Star Trek: The Next Generation" and was the least successful of the franchise.

Paramount Pictures

Hardy appeared in a few other movies, such as "Dot the I," but he was struggling with drug and alcohol addiction. He went into rehab in 2003.

Artisan Entertainment

Source: Esquire UK

That same year, Hardy earned the most promising newcomer award from the London Evening Standard after performing in the theater productions of "In Arabia We'd All Be Kings" and "Blood." "In Arabia We'd All Be Kings" also earned him a nomination for a most promising newcomer Olivier Award in 2004.

Getty Images

After appearing in a few TV movies, Hardy landed the role of Robert Dudley in the BBC's miniseries "The Virgin Queen."

BBC

That same year, he portrayed Raumont in "Marie Antoinette."

Columbia Pictures

Hardy is known for transforming for his roles. To play a homeless, alcoholic, sociopathic junkie in 2007's "Stuart: A Life Backwards," he lost nearly 30 pounds. He also earned his first BAFTA nomination.

BBC/HBO

He then gained 42 pounds of muscle for "Bronson." He received high praise and won a best actor British Independent Film Award for his portrayal of Charles Bronson, one of Britain's most notorious prisoners. He also shaved his head and grew a handlebar mustache.

Vertigo Films

Sources: The Guardian, Esquire

That same year, he starred in "Sucker Punch" and "RocknRolla." In 2009, he played Heathcliff in ITV's adaptation of "Wuthering Heights."

ITV/PBS

He met his wife, Charlotte Riley, when she played Cathy in "Wuthering Heights." The couple married in 2014 and welcomed a child in 2015. Hardy was previously married to Sarah Ward from 1999 to 2004. He also has a son with his ex-girlfriend, Rachael Speed.

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He made his US stage debut in the Philip Seymour Hoffman-directed play "The Long Red Road" in Chicago in 2010.

Getty Images

Source: Playbill

He won a BAFTA rising-star award for playing the supporting role Eames in Christopher Nolan's "Inception," which was a blockbuster at the US box office.

Warner Bros

He starred alongside Michael Fassbender — also nominated for an Oscar this year for "Steve Jobs" — in 2011's "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy." This was the first time Hardy got to act alongside Gary Oldman, whom he has cited as one of his acting heroes. It wouldn't be the last.

Focus Features

He starred alongside Joel Edgerton in "Warrior," for which he learned how to cage-fight.

Lionsgate

Source: The Guardian

He gained prominence in the US after portraying Bane in Christopher Nolan's "The Dark Knight Rises." It's his highest-grossing movie to date.

Warner Bros

Source: Box Office Mojo

He starred in the 2012 romantic comedy "This Means War" and as a bootlegger in "Lawless." Hardy and his "Lawless" costar, Shia LaBeouf, got into a fight on set, according to the director.

Weinstein Company

Source: Cinema Blend

Hardy received critical acclaim for "Locke," a real-time account of a man's journey to London as phone calls unravel his personal dilemmas.

A24

He starred alongside the late James Gandolfini in "The Drop," which was Gandolfini's final appearance in a theatrical film. In 2015, Hardy starred in the panned "Child 44."

Fox Searchlight

Hardy loves dogs and currently has two. He even has a pit-bull tattoo on his back. He told Vulture that dogs are his "favorite animal ever."

Getty Images

Source: Vulture

Hardy portrays a Jewish gang leader in the second season of BBC Two's "Peaky Blinders."

Netflix

The actor was busy last year. He played the lead character in "Mad Max: Fury Road." The film scored 10 Oscar nominations. Hardy is set to reprise his role in three additional films, should they happen. A sequel, "Mad Max: The Wasteland," is slated for 2017.

Warner Bros

Source: Esquire UK

Hardy showed off his singing chops in "London Road," a thriller based on a musical of the same name. The script is taken from interviews with community members coping with an English serial killer in Ipswich, Suffolk, England.

Picturehouse Entertainment

He then portrayed the Kray twins, notorious English gangsters during the 1950s and 1960s, in "Legend."

Universal

And to top off the year, Hardy earned an Oscar nomination for his supporting role in "The Revenant" as John Fitzgerald, the man who leaves Leonardo DiCaprio's Hugh Glass to die. He was originally going to work on "Splinter Cell" before DiCaprio called him and told him to read the script.

20th Century Fox

Source: Esquire UK

Hardy and his friend, Dean Baker, founded a production company, Hardy Son & Baker, in 2012. They produced the TV documentary "Poaching Wars" in 2013, which starred Hardy, and they're producing the upcoming TV miniseries "Taboo," also starring Hardy.

FX

He's slated to star in Christopher Nolan's 2017 World War II film "Dunkirk," alongside fellow supporting actor nominee Mark Rylance (for "Bridge of Spies").

Getty Images

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