Note to directors who work with Tom Hardy: you better know what you’re doing or you’re going to have a bad time.
Hardy is receiving considerable praise for his role in Locke, in which Hardy is the only actor on screen for the entire 85 minute movie. However, in an interview with New York magazine to promote the film, Hardy didn’t focus on the one-man-show aspect of his performance. Instead, he criticizes actors who don’t watch their own performances and talks about how difficult it is to work with directors who don’t have clear visions for their films.
Unlike many actors who are uncomfortable watching their performances, Hardy watches the playback of his performances between takes to adjust the way he acts in a scene. He explains, “I don’t believe in the magic of the theater as much as I believe in control and manipulation and illusion and sleight of hand. A lot of actors may think they’re doing something, but what’s coming across is something else entirely.”
In fact, Hardy confesses that he has issues working with actors who don’t review their own performances because they don’t learn from their mistakes. He says, “I don’t trust a professional who hasn’t seen or watched or studied their work. It’s like boxers: Fighters watch their own fights and see where they make mistakes. It doesn’t mean that they forget how to fight when they get in the ring.”
In fact, though Hardy clearly thinks actors have to concentrate on improving their craft he goes as far as calling himself a “meat puppet” in the hands of a film’s director. However, Hardy warns that the relationship between him and a director can be complicated when the director lacks a clear vision. He reveals, “When you’re working with directors who don’t know what they’re doing or what they want, they often tend to put on a controlled mask. Now, I lie for a living, so I can smell when somebody’s full of shit, and as soon as I realize that, we’re going to have a problem. We’re doing something that requires us to be open and honest to get the best result possible, so the dynamic between the actor and the director is about cutting straight to the work and about how we can best serve that work as a team.”
Fortunately, Hardy felt that he had that relationship with Locke director Steven Knight. He says, “I do require the director to know a vast amount about what he’s talking about — and a bit more than me, too, so I can feel safe. That’s what makes Steve so exceptional: He knows much more about this world than I do. That makes my job much easier, that I’m not trying to put out other fires laterally. I can just concentrate on my character and that’s when I’m happiest.”