Tom Hardy is widely considered to be one of the most talented actors of his generation. But there’s way more to this 45-year-old Brit than most fans realize. The A-lister spent the summer winning Brazilian jiu-jitsu (BJJ) tournaments, even though he “doesn’t feel very manly.” He prefers playing villains because heroes are “boring.” And, there was a brief moment early in his career when he was a rapper. That’s just the tip of the iceberg. Here are 10 more facts that you may not know about the Venom star.
Yes, Tom Hardy was a rapper
Before we get to our list, we had to share some details about Hardy’s rap career. In 1999, he recorded a mixtape called Falling on Your Arse with his friend Edward Tracy under the names Tommy No.1 and Eddie Too Tall. Eddie’s contribution to the project was lo-fi beats and movie samples, while Tommy rapped.
The project was never released, and Hardy has described it as “not very good.” But to be honest — after listening to the entire recording — we agree with Vice who reported that it was “actually kind of fire.”
1. He has a problem with his pinky finger
Eagle-eyed fans may have noticed that there is something a bit odd about the pinky finger on Hardy’s right hand. He isn’t able to straighten it out, so it’s perpetually curled inward. The reason is because Hardy severed a tendon in that finger when he stabbed a knife into a chopping board.
After three operations, he was able to close the pinky finger into a fist. But, Hardy will never be able to straighten his pinky again.
2. One of his tattoos was the result of losing a bet to Leonardo DiCaprio
Hardy got his first tattoo at the age of 15 to celebrate his Irish heritage — a fighting Leprechaun. Over the years, he’s added new ones which often commemorate his film roles. The ink he got for The Revenant, though, was the result of losing a bet with his co-star, Leonardo DiCaprio.
The Titanic star predicted that Hardy would get an Oscar nomination for his work on The Revenant, but Hardy disagreed. When he did get the nom, Hardy was a man of his word and took his punishment.
“He wrote, in this really sh*tty handwriting: ‘Leo knows everything.’ Ha! I was like, ‘OK, I’ll get it done, but you have to write it properly,'” Hardy told Esquire. When the day actually came for the tatoo, it changed to “Leo knows all.”
3. Tom Hardy won a modeling contest on a British morning show
In 1998, Hardy won a modeling contest on the British morning show The Big Breakfast at the age of 20. During his appearance, fans found out he was a drama student who idolized actor Gary Oldman.
“Gary Oldman is my absolute complete and utter hero. He’s the f**king man. I look at him and I want to be like that for my generation—I want to have that same quality. He’s incredible,” Hardy once said, per Screen Rant.
He also revealed in that morning show appearance that he didn’t like football, he liked Eddie Izzard, and his goal was to write and direct his own short films.
4. He starred alongside his acting idol numerous times
Hardy replaced his fellow Drama Centre London classmate, Michael Fassbender, in the 2010 film Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. In the cold war thriller based on a John le Carré novel, Hardy starred as British operative “Tricky” Ricky Tarr alongside his idol, Gary Oldman.
“There is a definite ‘hang on a minute’ [moment], but I’ve got past the star-struck part now,” Hardy said of working with Oldman. They have since worked together on other projects, including Lawless and The Dark Knight Rises.
5. Tom Hardy auditioned to play Mr. Darcy in ‘Pride & Prejudice’
Hardy auditioned for the role of Mr. Darcy in Joe Wright’s 2005 adaptation of Pride & Prejudice, starring Keira Knightley. But, the part ultimately went to Matthew Macfadyen. He says that a studio head told him, “Babe, every woman in the world has an impression of who Darcy is, and you’re just not it.”
“That hurt, that really hurt,” Hardy told The Telegraph. “I’d worn a blue shirt and jeans and a blue blazer and been doing my best Hugh Grant impression. But now I was back to playing the wonky skewiff-teeth kid with the bow legs.”
6. He had a dog named Mad Max when he was 17
Two decades before he played the titular role in Mad Max: Fury Road, Hardy acquired a dog with the name Mad Max. His good friend Cass had a dog that he really liked, and she promised he would get a puppy if she had a litter.
“I went to visit his mom, see how she was and say hello. And she said, ‘Oh, we’ve got something for you here.’ And I opened up the door, and there was Mad Max. And I was like, ‘I don’t like that name.’ He’s not mad, he’s just misunderstood,” he told Vanity Fair.
7. He doesn’t cry, but one movie ‘broke’ him
Hardy can’t cry on cue because he finds crying to be “difficult.” He told ShortList in 2011 that it takes a long time for him to produce a tear, and he doesn’t know “what will send” him into a weepy state.
“I’m quite sentimental. If my son tells me he loves me, that will make me cry. Mr. Holland’s Opus, unbelievably, broke me. A random anomaly. Bambi would probably do me. Or Shrek,” Hardy said.
8. He reads books to kids on British TV
There is a preschool channel in the United Kingdom called CBeebies, and Hardy has made numerous appearances in a show called Bedtime Stories. Every time he pops in, Hardy reads a different children’s book and it’s absolutely fantastic.
After his first appearance in 2016, the BBC received more than a million requests for the actor to return. In 2020 — at the beginning of the pandemic — CBeebies had a “Tom Week” where he read a different book every day.
9. He’s a recovering addict
Hardy has been sober for nearly two decades. But early in his career, he struggled with an addiction to alcohol and cocaine. After divorcing his first wife Sarah Ward in 2004, Hardy says he spiraled out of control and ended up in rehab.
“I went in thinking I’d do it for a little bit until I can go out and drink and people forgive me. But I did my 28 days, and after listening to people who had been through similar circumstances I realized I did have a problem,” Hardy said.
10. Tom Hardy is a real-life bada**
Hardy has been on a roll this year winning martial arts tournaments. But, that’s not the only proof that Hardy is a real-life bada**. Back in 2017, Hardy witnessed two 16-year-olds attempting to steal a motorbike and he intervened.
“He went off like a shot in pursuit and looked furious,” witness Arun Pullen told The Sun. “He told me he chased [the culprit] through my back garden and caught him around the block—but the route was like an assault course.”
To catch the thief, Hardy had to “vault walls,” which Pullen described as “mental.” It was as if the actor “switched to superhero mode in an action movie” after two boys stole the bike, jumped a red light, and smashed into a car.
“Tom Hardy’s clearly not a man you’d mess with,” Pullen noted.
Hardy’s new action-thriller Havoc will be released on Netflix in 2023.