GIFT OF THE GAB
Actor Tom Hardy is earning plaudits for the excellent vocals skills that add unrivalled extra dimensions to his on-screen characters
Think of Tom Hardy and what likely first comes to mind is his stout physical presence: his muscled mixed-martial arts fighter in Warrior or his hulking Batman villain, Bane, in The Dark Knight Rises.
But Hardy is, first and foremost, a talker.
As he’s developed as an actor, it’s become increasingly clear how much voice plays a central role for Hardy.
His characters are a richly varied assortment of vocalisation. His verbal virtuosity is especially on display in two films this year: the New York crime film The Drop, which opens today, and the earlier-released Locke, a drama almost entirely composed of Hardy talking on the phone while driving.
One is a mumbling mutterer, the other speaks with methodical precision. They couldn’t sound more different, but in both cases their speech entirely informs their character.
“The voice is a key silhouette, an audio silhouette,” Hardy says.
Hardy, himself, is a theatrical torrent of words, a London-native who speaks with a colourful, refined accent that fluctuates in pitch and often breaks into hearty chuckles or squeals.
Articulation and its many forms have dotted Hardy’s movies, often with very specific inspirations.
Adapted from a Dennis Lehane short story, The Drop is about a Brooklyn bar used as a money-laundering bank.
Hardy plays a seemingly meek and innocent bartender named Bob who keeps his head down while bigger players – his boss (James Gandolfini, in his final performance), a police detective (John Ortiz), a neighbourhood thug (Matthias Schoenaerts) – overlook him.
“We’re dealing with low wisps of eliciting information without giving away where the fire is,” Hardy says of Bob’s speech.
“In order to survive, you must be invisible. Bob is finding his voice.
“It’s a thick Brooklyn accent of almost monosyllabic Neanderthal sounds,” Hardy says.
Director Michael Roskam says what Hardy can do with his voice is “incredible”.
For his masked, elaborately articulate Bane, he drew from the Irish bare-knuckle brawler Barley Gorman, who was documented in a 1995 film, King of the Gypsies.
Hardy will soon start shooting Alejandro Inarritu’s The Revenant, a gritty thriller set on the 1820s frontier.
A scene from
which stars Tom Hardy, as a Brooklyn bar owner, and James Gandolfini, in his final role.