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

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - MOVIES - JAKE COYLE

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

The Drop

which stars Tom Hardy, as a Brook­lyn bar owner, and James Gan­dolfini, in his fi­nal role.

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