Tom Hardy breaks new ground in Venom
Tom Hardy may have been born to play a half-man, half-alien in Marvel Comics’ Venom
Tom Hardy could play the hero, though what we like best is when he plays the villain. Or at a more interesting cross-section between the two: the anti-hero.
In The Dark Knight Rises, he’s Bane, a sadistic megalomaniac who wants to teach humankind a lesson. In Lawless, he’s a rough-hewn bootlegger in the Depression Era. In The Revenant, he’s a ruthless, amoral traitor, a worse enemy to Leonardo DiCaprio’s character than that ravenous grizzly bear. In Child 44, he’s a “sentimental brute”, as one critic describes his character, a military investigator probing child killings. In Mad Max:
Fury Road, he’s Max, the madman of the futuristic desert who ends up fighting alongside a bunch of female warriors. And in his big break in 2008, he plays a violent convict in Bronson, an independent film that explores the exuberance and downsides of machismo.
All things considered, the big, burly Brit is perfect to play Venom.
In the new comic book adaptation, which opened in cinemas on Thursday, Hardy plays an investigative journalist whose body is invaded by an alien with violent instincts who feeds on a diet of human flesh. Thus those toothy fangs and a long, pink, vulgar tongue.
It is a darker tale from the Marvel Comics superhero universe than what audiences have seen in recent films.
“His version of doing good is just eating,” Hardy said of Venom. “The world is an all-you-can-eat buffet, and human beings are on the menu, so that’s not great for humanity as your hero.”
The story is a Jekyll-and-Hyde tale where Hardy’s journalist character, Eddie Brock, tries to keep Venom’s bad behaviour under control. Venom is being released by Sony Pictures, which owns rights to several Marvel characters that are not owned by Disney.
Hardy said Venom has similarities to several classic monster movies.
“There’s an element of original Ghostbusters, a slightly
80s retro vibe to it, which I enjoyed, and a bit of Teen Wolf and American Werewolf In London vibe to it,” Hardy said.
Venom is a spin-off from the Spider-Man franchise. The character was first glimpsed in Spider-Man 3, and Sony decided to develop it into a full movie.
Venom co-stars fellow British actor Riz Ahmed as villainous corporation owner Carlton Drake and Michelle Williams as Brock’s former girlfriend.
Venom is one of the most popular characters in Marvel history because he’s dangerous, scary and unpredictable, his dark wit is matched only by his predilection for violence, and it’s all wrapped up into a package with huge, white eyes, and a mouth full of razor-sharp teeth.
At the centre of Venom is not one but two anti-heroes in one body: Eddie, the ego-driven, obsessive reporter driven to expose the powerful and corrupt — and Venom, the chilling alien symbiote with superpowers. Together, they are capable of anything — a terrifying proposition as Venom is fuelled by rage.
When director Ruben Fleischer — a Sony Pictures success story with his cult hit Zombieland — took the helm as Venom’s director, the producers knew they had someone with a full grip on how Marvel’s most badass character could make for a rip-roaring movie unlike any other. But the Venom filmmakers also realised that it would take a talented actor to straddle both the personalities of Venom and Eddie Brock.
They got more than they hoped for when critically acclaimed Hardy — the man behind some of the most complicated characters in modern film — signed on to star.
Fleischer sees Hardy as a man of the moment, an actor of his time. “Tom is one of the all-time great actors, just so inherently talented and captivating on film. He’s a real movie star, and he is in his prime right now, firing on all cylinders, and brings so 10 much to every look, every moment, every detail, every word,” said the director.
“He’s just really inspiring. And I think everybody on the crew is just fully invested in how he’s chosen to realise Eddie Brock. And on top of all that, Tom is hilarious, and that was exactly what we needed to bring Venom to life for moviegoers.”
Hardy says that the idea of symbiosis — needing each other to survive — is built into the characters of Eddie and Venom. “There was a lot of range to play within the psychological dynamics of this superhero movie,” he says. “And I found that to be exciting because it is multi-personality; one is a human character and the other is an alien. I get to play opposite a 7ft-tall creature. And Eddie Brock has to handle that living inside him. The two of them have a union in one. ‘We are Venom’, is their mantra.
“There’s a tragic clown element, which I find funny and is harmonious with some of the work that I like to do,” Hardy said in an interview. “There’s something funny about the circumstances of having a gift but it’s a tragic gift. It’s a superpower you don’t really want, but at the same time, you love it. It makes you feel special. He’s a reluctant hero and an anti-hero.”
And perhaps there’s a much simpler reason the actor is excited about the role: “Venom is cool, man. He’s a badass!”
The star, who made his name in London theatre before gaining attention in his film role as a violent convict in Bronson, said he also received input from his 10-year-old son on how to play the role.
“My son’s a massive fan of Marvel and Venom, and he was very clear about what I can and can’t do,” Hardy said, adding “It’s very odd being told what to do by your son who’s 10 and him being right.”
The world is an all-youcan-eat buffet, and human beings are on the menu
A scene from Venom.
Michelle Williams, left, and Tom Hardy in a scene from Venom.
Tom Hardy in a scene from Mad Max: Fury Road.