Many of us discovered Tom Hardy in Bronson, director Nicolas Winding Refn’s cinematic ode to British brawler Charles Bronson. That movie was a force to be reckoned with and Hardy was the biggest reason why. His reckless performance as one of England’s most volatile criminals proved the actor was capable of physical things not many are. On his new FX series, Taboo, Hardy shows flashes of that old Bronson insanity. He’s incredible to watch.
Taboo stars Hardy as James Keziah Delaney, a wine merchant’s son who disappears to Africa and is presumed dead by London society. The show begins with his resurrection. He shows up at his father’s funeral in London. The year is 1811 and it was the worst of times for many depicted on the show. Hardy’s character seems possessed by the furies. Wide-eyed and keenly focused, he takes control of his father’s estate, which includes a valuable stretch of land the powerful East India Company covets.
The key to Taboo is a mystery. What happened to Delaney over the past decade that made him a seeming lunatic? Hardy reveals little. But, from his eyes (and hallucinations), it’s clear the years haven’t been kind. This guy has seen some shit. The Dickensian supporting characters can see it too. There are whispers that Delaney is as crazy as his old man, but the lost son proves a step ahead in every dealing. Hardy isn’t kind in the role. He has returned to London to inherit what’s his and these pompous suits aren’t going to take it. You can feel the weight of his presence in every scene. Delaney wants to intimidate.
In an interview with THR last week, Hardy admits he’s “been a dick” in real life as well, but says he finds that reputation helpful playing dark characters.
“… I play a lot of scary blokes, and there are probably a few reasons why. First, villains are much more interesting than hero leads, who are, for the most part, really boring. The thought of going into work day in and day out to play someone who is just mind-numbingly boring fills me with dread, so I don’t bother. Another part of it is when I was younger I remember being frightened a lot — of being small and skinny and vulnerable and feeling that I could have been preyed upon easily. So, everything that I play is what scared me.”
Head over to THR for more from the madman Taboo star about his new show, “playing the game” in Hollywood and feeling out of place during the Oscars last year.
And catch Hardy on Taboo Tuesday nights on FX.