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His friendship is something to be treasured; his enmity is something to be feared. Tom Hardy is not your average actor, not your average movie star. He started out averagely enough but quickly demonstrated a reluctance to stay so.
But even with such a high-calibre start, he was in serious danger of losing it.Before we sit down in an edit suite to watch the episode, I have to sign a non-disclosure agreement."You can write what you think," says Hardy, "just not why you think it." So we sit there side by side on a black leather sofa as an editor called Serkan plays back the episode on a large screen, Hardy scribbling continuously on an A4 pad and working his way through a stack of four (yes, four) pizzas and a bottle of Diet Coke; me making notes in my own notebook, mostly about the pizzas.", and despite having lush production values that make London, where it is mostly set, look dank and grubby and decadent and sumptuous all at the same time, and boasting a cast of period drama stalwarts including Jonathan Pryce and Tom Hollander, goes to places that other shows of that genre don't.It's why he was so captivating as a homeless drug addict in the 2007 BBC adaptation of , the 2015 film about east London's most feared mobsters (though they did love their mum).He doesn't have to channel the time his pet goldfish died in order to play characters who have been brutalised or broken; he can play men who stare into the existential abyss because he has stared into it himself. Or as he told a fellow addiction survivor in a video for The Prince's Trust charity, "I'm an addict and an alcoholic so I have my ups and downs.He prefers to play gangsters, villains and psychopaths. He has an innate, undeniable charisma on screen that puts him at the top of every director's wish list — all right, as we'll get on to, perhaps not of them — but often forgoes behemoth movies in favour of smaller, weirder films in which he can experiment, cut loose.
He is steadfastly tightlipped about his personal life, but refreshingly candid about his profession.
Our conversation is occasionally interrupted by vitamin-D-starved TV types popping in to make cups of coffee, as well as some loud male and female groans repeating over and over from an edit suite across the hall (fighting or schtupping? Hardy seems fairly relaxed, given that he's under a reasonable amount of pressure.
His production company, Hardy Son and Baker, which he runs with a producing partner, Dean Baker, has to send the finished series to the BBC and the American broadcaster, FX, by Christmas so that it can air in January.
I was like, 'OK, I'll get it done, but you have to write it properly.'"And he probably will.
Hardy's body art is very much a statement of his commitment: to his lovers, to his family, to himself. He has her name, Lindy King, tattooed on the inside of his arm, which he said he would do if she ever got him into Hollywood.
And you keep on doing stuff that's nonsense, and you of all people have been born with opportunities.' So I had words with myself about the reality of wanking about when there's such a lot to be getting on with." He's been sober since 2003, though the impulses are still there.