ByDarragh O'Connor, writer at
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Darragh O'Connor

Over the last few years, Tom Hardy has become a household name. Ever since his 2001 appearance in Black Hawk Down, Hardy has starred in various critically-acclaimed movies that've both stood the test of time and put him on the map.

In 2008, Tom Hardy grabbed the attention of movie fans all around the world when he excelled in the role of Charles Bronson in the biopic, Bronson. From there, he went on to star in some of the world's biggest blockbusters, such as Inception and The Dark Knight, as well as starring in iconic masterpieces like The Revenant and Mad Max: Fury Road. Everybody knows Hardy is a top-tier actor — there's no convincing needed there. However, there is one area of the actors range that's under-appreciated and that's how facially expressive he is. We're going to look at three of his movies and see why Tom Hardy is the best facially expressive actor in Hollywood.

The Blockbuster Performance

The Dark Knight Rises: Multi-million dollar budget, humongous expectations due to its stellar predecessor, The Dark Knight, and by far Hardy's biggest role 'til that point. There were crazy and unrealistic expectations placed on Tom Hardy as a villain because of Heath Ledger's mesmerizing performance as the Joker in The Dark Knight. However, he did an amazing job, and turned out to be a fitting successor to Ledger's Joker. Not to mention that Hardy totally dominated the screen in The Dark Knight Rises, despite the fact he was acting alongside Christian Bale as Batman.

What made Hardy's performance as Bane so good is how much emotion he conveyed despite most of his face being covered. Using merely his eyes and eyebrows, the viewer could completely tell if Bane was angry, sad, cocky or even relieved. There were times he was calm and in control, but there were also times he was jittery and reckless; Tom Hardy conveyed this better than any other actor could.

Christopher Nolan, who directed The Dark Knight Rises, is somebody perfectly in tune with how fitting Hardy was for the role of Bane. When speaking with the Los Angeles Times, Nolan spoke about how Hardy's physicality played a big part in the role of Bane:

"Tom is somebody who really knows how to put character into every gesture, every aspect of his physicality in the way that great actors can. He’s a very, very physical actor."

And, with Christopher Nolan understanding how facially expressive Hardy is when he acts, he decided to include him in his latest , this time showing even less of his face.

Hardy And The Battle Of Dunkirk

'Dunkirk' [Credit: Warner Bros.]
'Dunkirk' [Credit: Warner Bros.]

Dunkirk opened up earlier this year, with people claiming the film is Christopher Nolan's masterpiece. Much of this credit should go to supporting star, Tom Hardy. In Dunkirk, we see very little of Hardy's face — even less than when he played the masked Bane in The Dark Knight Rises. This is no accident however, Nolan knew exactly what he was doing when he cast Hardy in this restricted role. As a matter of fact, he actually begged Tom Hardy to sign on for Dunkirk. In an interview with USA Today, Nolan explained exactly why he chose Tom Hardy for the role:

"We’re in that cockpit with him for the entire film. So it’s about wiping the sweat out of his eyes or whatever, it’s very small scale. There's two feet right around him. I knew (Hardy) would be interested in that,"

Nolan cited working with Hardy on The Dark Knight Rises as the reason why he why he chose him once again, saying:

"I’ve had great experience hiding Tom behind masks and showing that he can act with only his eyes. It's all there, he has the most expressive eyes. He can pull the audience into the moment in an amazing way even with most of his face covered."

Even with more restrictions in Dunkirk, Hardy still gave an amazing performance in the small cockpit. Throughout the film, we could see Hardy's character, Farrier, go through all the motions of a World War II fighter pilot. He leaps from composed to stressed and even relieved all at different times, showcasing Hardy's excellent range.

One Man, One Car, One Hour And 25 Minutes

Tom Hardy has a lot of huge roles to his name, but one of his best roles is one many fans mightn't have seen. 2013's Locke is a thriller/drama that follows the story of Ivan Locke. A family man at a turning point in his life, Locke's whole existence unravels and spirals his life before his very eyes after he receives a phone call.

Locke is one of Hardy's best performances in a motion picture, simply because he single-handedly carries the whole film. Over the duration of the movie, Hardy gives us a unique and hypnotizing performance of your everyday man having a crisis. Played with total composure, and completely owning the role, Hardy ensures viewers come away from this film with a stained imprint of Ivan Locke in their minds forever. As Christopher Nolan so excellently put it when speaking to NME:

"Of course Tom, being Tom, what he does with single eye acting is far beyond what anyone else can do with their whole body"

Obviously Tom Hardy is amazingly facially expressive in all his movies, but the three listed above are particular stand outs. Even in the likes of Mad Max: Fury Road, a film in which Hardy only had 52 lines (including grunts), Hardy still gave an show-stealing performance as Max Rockatansky. Time and time again Hardy impresses, and fans can't wait to see how he'll tackle the role of Venom in the upcoming Sony film. His presence on screen is scarily intimidating and with his facially expressive acting, he could be one of the best superhero villains in years.

What are some of your favorite Tom Hardy roles, let me know in the comments!

(Sources: LA Times, NME)


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