Tom Hardy Interview For John Hillcoat’s ‘Lawless’
Acclaimed director John Hillcoat (The Road, The Proposition) delivers a thrillingly vivid slice of American outlaw history in his epic gangster tale, ‘Lawless.’ ‘Lawless’ is the true story of the infamous Bondurant Brothers: three bootlegging siblings who made a run for the American Dream in Prohibition-era Virginia. Based on author Matt Bondurant’s fictionalized account of his family, “The Wettest County in the World,” the film gathers an ensemble of gifted, dynamic new-generation stars – Shia LaBeouf, Tom Hardy, Jessica Chastain, Jason Clarke, Mia Wasikowska, Dane DeHaan – alongside two of the finest actors of their generations, Guy Pearce and Gary Oldman. A riveting, intense story of crime and corruption, loyalty and love, brutality and tenderness, ‘Lawless’ is a rich addition to the American gangster canon. Look out for the film in cinemas August 29th in the US and September 7th in the UK.
What was it about this role that appealed to you? There’s some interest dichotomies in him, he’s fearsome and fearless, but then at the same time there’s incredible vulnerability in him with Maggie?
Tom Hardy: Yeah. I take characters as they come, characters that interest me, that have scope. And also, a diversity of different ranges and colours and characteristics that are interesting in finding paradox’s and dichotomies of man. Like, “How can somebody be so violent, yet at the same time be such a little boy?” Someone intrinsically innocent and naive and have such a heart, but then he’d do something on the other side that was so incredibly, horrifically horrible. And yet where the fulcrum is in the middle, someone that by the end of the film I want the audience to have the ability to care about that person.
The ensemble cast for ‘Lawless’ is quite spectacular, how was the experience for you on the film?
Tom Hardy: Every single one of those people and those artists have incredible sensibility, ability, talent and discipline. Each person was obviously different, and the combination of that kind of ensemble was electric and exciting. It was without ego….I mean, not completely without ego, we’ve all got ego because you need it to carve your way through certain situations – it’s actually imperative that you have it. But everyone distinctively put their ego down and was like, “OK, how can we join forces to create something that is clearly fabulous?” (Laughs). You were surrounded by quality and humility, and that sounds really cliché, by genuinely it was a working set (laughs).
And with John Hillcoat at the helm, how did he help that creativity with his direction?
Tom Hardy: John Hillcoat, he really encourages the creativity and then at the same time he has a natural strategy to create a safe place, but also a disciplined four walls of containment, whereby we’re not just anarchic, you know? We’re not going off the rails – where nothing gets done, but we’re trying to swing for the fences with what we have. It was the bread and butter doing a film like this. It was a great time to train and workout at what we do, practise. The process of working on ‘Lawless’ was such a pleasure.
Working with Gary Oldman in ‘Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy,’ ‘The Dark Knight Rises‘ and with this, ‘Lawless.’ How has that experience been?
Tom Hardy: With ‘Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy,’ the first time I worked with Gary Oldman, I had to watch him because we had to re-shoot….because my beard fell off while I was talking (laughs). So we had to go back and re-shoot the entire scene that I had with him in that, in ‘Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.’ Which is good because I spent my entire experience with Gary staring at him, and not returning any lines, because I think he’s basically God, you know? The second time, on ‘The Dark Knight Rises‘ as Bane, I was kind of playing God, so I kind of ignored him, kicked him a bit, that kind of thing (laughs). But Gary Oldman is one of my heroes, completely. I did nothing but gleam from him.
What’s the process of getting the accent right for Forrest, what sort of work did you do for that? He has this distinctive, quiet growl in ‘Lawless’….
Tom Hardy: I’ve only ever done two American accents really, and a couple of not so good ones. So I’m still a bit nervous about the American accent. But this one is so specific, and such a strong colour that there’s a little bit more mask work to be done for me. So it’s a little bit easier to hide behind an accent like this. Which was not necessarily an accent but more of a personality and a character. So I didn’t feel like I was doing….it was funny, it felt like more of a voice that came from a centre than an accent. And it was the same with ‘Warrior,’ I had a very similar monocephalic, central character to come from. So I wasn’t so caught up with dialect – as soon as that happens I panic and….I’m not Australian in ‘Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy’ for a reason. It wasn’t a choice (laughs). That’s not true, I chose to be British (laughs). But my accent work isn’t always amazing.
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