The Odd Couple
English actor Tom Hardy made his debut in the iconic film ‘Black Hawk Down’ in 2001 and since then he has steadily climbed the ladder of success. Since his debut Tom has played in movies like ‘Star Trek: Nemesis’; ‘Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy’; ‘The Dark Knight Rises’; ‘Inception’; ‘Legend’ and ‘Dunkirk’ amongst others. The 41-year-old actor is now seen in the titular role in the film superhero film ‘Venom’. In an exclusive interview, Tom speaks about the movie, role and preparation…
Excerpts from an interview
Did you read any superhero comic books when you were a kid?
I had a look at Spider-Man and Batman but I found them too complicated for me as a youngster. I remember those sorts of comic books being for a more discerning crowd. I used to watch Batman on the telly, the original show where he is wearing grey Lycra, and I used to watch the old movie over and over again where Batman fights the rubber shark!
What about now as you have kids of your own?
Having children, myself, I’ve realised that they know everything about this stuff! But when I looked at Superman and Spider-Man, I wasn’t drawn into their heroism. They were cool for an 8-year-old, but they didn’t hold me as an adult. I gravitate towards things that are a little darker.
What did you think of Venom when you first came across him?
Now, Venom is cool, man – he’s a badass. My son was telling me all about him – he loves Venom. He’s is a great character to play because Venom is ruthless and, basically, there are no rules. He’s so complex.
How was it playing multiple characters in this film – Eddie Brock on the one hand, then Venom on the other hand?
There was a lot of range to play within the psychological dynamics of this superhero movie. 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 seven-foot-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.
Did playing these different elements in one character recall your work on ‘Legend’?
It is similar to ‘Legend’ in a way. I thought it would be really cool because I could pick up where I left off playing the Kray twins in ‘Legend’. And with Venom, I could do it in both fantasy and reality. Venom has an insatiable appetite and doesn’t conform to any of our human rules. It is like the ‘Midas Touch’; you have everything and nothing. The two of them, Eddie and Venom, they need each other. If one of them dies, they both die. They’re like an ‘Odd Couple’. One is a seven-foot alien and the other is a five-foot-nine investigative journalist who would rather not run up a building. In a way, Eddie is forced to come to terms with the darker side of his personality that the symbiote brings out.
It’s tough for Eddie. For a start, he has to come to terms with the fact that aliens exist!
Exactly! He not only has to come to terms with the fact that aliens exist, never mind the fact that now one is inside him and making him do things that are beyond his imagination. There is a lot of comedy in that because most people are not going to believe that there’s an alien inside you, especially if you pride yourself on being an investigative journalist. If a real war correspondent turned up and said, ‘There’s an 800lb alien in living inside me,’ everyone would think he was mad.
Did you like the fact that this film is solely about Venom and does not feature Spider-Man?
The movie stands alone, absolutely. A man gets a parasite in him that turns into a big alien. That in itself held water. There are several recipients of Venom in the Marvel history and I was open to what my version of that might be, and what I might do with the character. It didn’t make much difference to me whether he ends up in the wider Marvel universe later on. I just wanted to play Venom.
How action-heavy was it for you and how much was asked of you physically?
It is a manic script. And the energy burned playing someone who is trying to run away from something like Venom is big. It’s a movie with a lot of hysteria because for Eddie it is like he has a tropical disease that’s taking over his body, and yet he does not know what it is, and the doctor is unable to tell him why he’s ill. A lot of the movie is hysteria and fear. There is also a lot of fighting and stunts and jumping over things and through things. They want their actors to be part of that journey whenever possible. If they can put me in a harness and throw me up something, they will. And that is physical.
Riz Ahmed’s character is set up as the primary bad guy but are you like the hero, anti-hero and villain in a way?
Ethically, Eddie is quite flexible. And in order for the two of them to survive, Eddie finds out that he and the Symbiote have to meet each other halfway. So, whether you can say that is a hero or a villain is difficult; it’s a grey area – Really, there are no heroes in this film.
There’s an unpredictability in Eddie already and Symbiotes pick up the characteristics of the person they inhabit. If a Symbiote connects to you, they will fulfil your wishes. For example, if a Symbiote managed to attach himself to Hannibal Lecter, then there’d be devastation for everyone. Or if he met the Joker, it would be crazy. Eddie Brock is not necessarily a bad man. He is conflicted. If he’s having a bad day, he might behave badly and the Symbiote would behave worse. But he’s not evil.