After hilariously stealing scenes in Inception and nabbing the role of Bane in The Dark Knight Rises , Tom Hardy was on the fast track to superstardom and A-list status. It's the path that most up-and-coming actors would kill for, but for Tom, acting is more important than red carpets and record-breaking premiers.
In an interview with Yahoo New Zealand, the [Mad Max: Fury Road](tag:41445) star reveals that his passion for work is one of the things that helped him overcome a severe alcohol and drug addiction that plagued his teenage years. So, sure, he can beat the snot out of opponents on a film set, but what's really impressive is his ability to be frank about topics that people so often try to hide.
Tom's tumultuous past only makes his current success that much more impactful, especially when you realize just how bad his situation could have been.
His early struggles
Growing up in East Sheen, a London suburb, Tom Hardy became well-acquainted with his fair share of vices. When he was 11-years-old, Tom's school got the requisite visit from police officers, specifically warning about the dangers of sniffing glue. Instead of deterring him, however, this news just gave him the idea to try it out.
Eventually, hallucinogens took a strong hold until Tom got kicked out of his boarding school for stealing. This opened the door to harder substances, and his late teen years and early 20s were plagued by alcoholism and a crack-cocaine addiction. He looks back on that time with new eyes:
I was a shameful suburban statistic. I was told very clearly, 'you go down that road, Tom, you won't come back. That's it. All you need to know.
That message still sticks with him, and it's helped him overcome some truly painful times.
His darkest moments
What seemed like fun and games at the time started having devastating consequences for the young Tom Hardy. When he was as young as 17-years-old, he was nearly put in jail with a 14 year sentence, but ultimately got acquitted by the skin of his teeth. Even that didn't quell his need for a high, though, as he plainly points out:
I would have sold my mother for a rock of crack.
His turning point came when he woke up in a puddle of blood and vomit in 2003, which led him to check into rehab. This was even after he started acting, appearing in the epic war mini-series Band of Brothers and the film Black Hawk Down. He elaborates on that time in an earlier interview:
I didn’t want anyone to know I was out of control, but I couldn’t hide it. Eventually, the body gives up. I was completely kaput. I was lucky I didn’t get hepatitis or AIDS.
Rehab turned out to be a watershed moment that made it clear he had a problem, and Tom never looked back.
How he moved on
Tom is open and honest about his struggles with addiction, and that sense of mature understanding is a huge part of the reason he's been able to stay sober for 12 years. He knows how addiction works, and he's vigilant about avoiding that one drink that can trigger a life-changing bender. Here's how he puts it:
If I had four pints of lager and half a bottle of vodka I could turn this room into an absolute f***ing nightmare in about three minutes. I could destroy everything in my life I have worked so hard for.
Nowadays, life as father to son Louis, consistent attendance at AA meetings, and the thrill of his next acting gig have become healthy addictions that have staved off a relapse. In the end, I wholly appreciate Tom's honesty about his personal issues because his openness will only help increase understanding and compassion in the future.
It's clear that Tom Hardy is one strong guy, and that has nothing to do with his physical fortitude.