We watched Tom Hardy accept some of the most physically demanding roles in Hollywood over the course of the last decade. From Bane to Mad Max, the audience got used to watching him play characters that could easily take out the biggest WWE stars, but is that because the actor himself has a wrestling background?
No, Tom Hardy was never a wrestler. It’s pretty surprising to hear that the actor who played so many tough guys doesn’t have any formal training, but this only makes Hardy’s commitment to his craft more impressive.
Take a look at some of Hardy’s most physically demanding roles that tricked the entire world into thinking he might’ve been a wrestler in his youth.
His Big Break with “Bronson”
Tom Hardy’s big break came in 2008 when Nicolas Winding Refn cast him as notorious criminal Charles Bronson in Bronson. He already had several well-received movies under his belt at this point, including RocknRolla and Layer Cake, but this biopic gave him a chance to shine.
Bronson is known as “the most violent prisoner in Britain”, who had a short-lived career in bare-knuckle boxing, so it was obvious that Hardy won’t have an easy time stepping into his shoes. After meeting the actor in person, and seeing how great he is at mimicking his voice and mannerisms, Bronson himself knew Hardy was the only man who could possibly play him.
When describing his process of preparing for this role to Ask Men, the Oscar-nominated actor explained he had to put on a lot of weight rapidly to build muscle. He also did non-specific exercises, including press ups, pushups, abs work and resistance training.
Bronson may not be Tom Hardy’s most popular movie, but it’s important to single it out since it set the tone for the rest of his career moving forward. He accepted many physically taxing roles in the years to come, starting with Warrior in 2011.
Hardy spent five months preparing for the role in this boxing drama about two estranged brothers taking part in the same mixed martial arts tournament. It was quite a journey for the actor, who suffered broken ribs, a broken toe and tore ligaments in his right hand along the way.
This experience didn’t stop him from accepting numerous other physically taxing projects. He infamously hurt his back on the set of Lawless while having a “weird cutey wrestling match” with co-star Shia LaBeouf. He also jokingly wrestled his The Revenant director Alejandro G. Iñárritu, bringing some laughs to an otherwise bleak set.
Hardy’s roles in big blockbusters also demanded physical transformations that the majority of other actors couldn’t be capable of. He gained thirty pounds and studied various fighting styles to play Bane in The Dark Knight Rises, but still struggled with the fighting scenes because it felt like he was beating up his childhood hero.
Just when he thought that he’s done playing tough guys, the British actor accepted the titular role in Mad Max: Fury Road. He also gave boxing another shot while preparing for the role of twin gangsters Ronald and Reginald Kray in Legend, and worked out alongside the MMA fighter Nathan Jones to prepare for starring in Venom.
Drastic physical changes are one of the things that Hardy is best known for, but that might change in the future, because he has to be more mindful of the rapid training in his 40s.
“I think you pay the price with any drastic physical changes… To go from one extreme to another has a cost. I haven’t damaged my body, but I’m certainly a bit achier than I used to be!” the actor told The Daily Beast.
A Wrestler at Heart
Tom Hardy may not have a professional wrestling background, but he’s obviously a huge mixed martial arts fan. He gave everything from boxing to jiu-jitsu a shot, and he would probably be pretty successful if he’d taken a similar career path as his look-alike Conor McGregor.