Now I get it.
Fresh from shooting the 2016 FX TV series “Taboo” with his father and Steven Knight (“Peaky Blinders,” “Locke”) and seeing “The Revenant” for the first time at the L.A. premiere (“it’s brilliant!”), Tom Hardy—who landed an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor Thursday—explained what was so challenging about shooting “The Revenant” for director Alejandro Gonzalez Iñárritu and cinematographer Emmanuel “Chivo” Lubezki.
Of course, there were obvious uncomfortable logistical challenges from following the unpredictable weather with an entire crew to rugged, remote Calgary locations (which informed his character, scalped trapper John Fitzgerald), but it was learning an unorthodox new cinema language and “that funny old lens” that threw Hardy at first. Iñárritu asked for trust in executing what he called “the tightrope.” “He was very controlling in every way,” says Hardy. “You didn’t know what you were trusting and how it was going to work. It’s like learning Black Russian. It was confusing. We had to wrestle our characters off him.”
Finally, when his “Inception” costar Leonardo DiCaprio breached the playback area, Hardy was able to see what the camera was up to, and then “the penny dropped.”
That’s the phrase Hardy uses for when a character clicks for him. When he knows exactly what he’s doing. That didn’t take long on Brian Helgeland’s brothers Kray period biopic “Legend,” which took seven weeks—not eight months—to shoot (now that was “fun”) with Hardy playing opposite himself (a tennis ball) with the aid of old-fashioned split screens and earpieces (so he could “sound clash” with his twin brother).
And he’s chuffed that Best Director nominee George Miller is earning his just kudos for “Mad Max: Fury Road”—which earned the second-most Oscar nominations of any film (10), close on the heels of the 12 received by “The Revenant.” “It’s such a massive explosion of technicolor brilliance, orchestrated madness at its peak,” he says. Did he mind giving Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron) the gun to take the one shot that could save them? “No. Because I’d miss,” he says. “The reality is I would miss and she wouldn’t. The great thing about Mad Max is he’s real. He’s not that confident. He doesn’t think he’s going to make it. He knows what he’s good at and what he isn’t.”
As for that thick accent on “The Revenant,” “I thought it sounded kind of cool,” he says. “I’ll go with that!” Hardy dropped onto that set, right after finishing “Legend,” without much fuss or bother. “I was a bit naughty, I didn’t do any research. I had time to grow a beard, get a wig on and go up the mountain. What you see is what you get.” He’s paying homage to Tom Berenger’s Sgt. Barnes in “Platoon,” a character he’s loved since he was a kid. “There’s a little of him in there.”