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Quendrith Johnson

Quendrith Johnson is Los Angeles Correspondent covering everything happening in film in Hollywood... Well, the most interesting things, anyway.
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TOM HARDY is LOCKE-d & Loaded Again, Surprised?


by Quendrith Johnson, Los Angeles Correspondent


With the May release LOCKE, a veritable showcase for Tom Hardy's considerable talent, it is easy to overlook the long road to stardom.

Not that LOCKE, written and directed by Steven Knight, is the star vehicle that put him on the map, but it shows how Hardy can carry a picture without enough supporting input from the ensemble. He plays Ivan Locke, who, in brief for various spoiler alert considerations, is a man with a concrete burden on his mind. LOCKE is set in a car, the vehicle is the stage. "The idea (from Knight) was 'I've got 30 pages, it's an idea,'" Hardy revealed. He was stumping for this film at Sundance at the time.

After the first 30 pages, the next 90 were written nearly as the filming began, so visual cues had to be added. Basically Hardy ended up sight reading from about six separate locations within the car to get all the newly minted dialogue down. 

"Reading and driving... and trying to hide all that... it's real black box theater," he added. "It would have been impossible to memorize all that."

Born in 1977, Hardy first blipped on the American radar with Chistopher Nolan's Inception (2010) as Eames, but he'd already been in Ridley Scott's Black Hawk Down (2001), even in Sofia Coppola's controversial costume-drama Marie Antoinette (2006). Some international fans would have marked him from Rock'n'Rolla (2008) as Handsome Bob, or back further in the Daniel Craig-driven crime thriller Layer Cake (2004) - but Craig practically used his screen time as an audition for Hollywood; so "Clarkie" (Hardy) was overshadowed.

Even though Hardy killed in the lead role in Bronson (2008), the subject matter - another nearly one-man piece like LOCKE - was so horrifying in the telling of a lifer's prison story that audiences were far and few. Not to mention the brutal nudity and bizarre storyline that tied Hollywood icon Charles Bronson as alter ego with inmate Michael Peterson. The review slug-line could have read: "Savage. Sweaty. Naked man tied to chair scares many from seats."

In 2011, Tom Hardy's turn in Warrior, followed by tour de force as Southern bootlegger Forrest Bondurant in Lawless (2012) came roaring through the screen as audiences were primed for The Dark Knight Rises arch-villian Bane. Once again Chris Nolan tapped Hardy; and Bane, despite the voice alteration and face mask, hit all the high notes in that Batman re-boot.

The upcoming big Hollywood productions will include his 2015 shot at the Mel Gibson fame-starter Max, in the retooled Mad Max: Fury Road. Tom Hardy barely has to stretch to nail that one, after Bane. But Hardy will also inhabit Elton John in the soon-to-be-released biopic Rocketman, proving there is little he can not do in front of a camera.

But back to LOCKE. There have been some less cordial reviews in general, yet cinephiles should see this film because it is another Tom Hardy calling card. 

There's interview footage from Sundance where Hardy, who was first billed on screen as Thomas Hardy, photobombs director Steven Knight in a rare playful moment. Moments before he had been dead-serious, remarking that "It was nice to articulate myself using reading (cues). And to try to hide all that (in LOCKE)."

"The written word when it is first spoken is quite fresh," Hardy added. "If you capture that, you have a liveliness."

While Hollywood has its share of gutsy leading men, flavors including Ryan Gosling to Tom Cruise to Zac Efron to Daniel Craig, Hardy is about to put one in the chamber aimed at all of them... It is only a matter of time before he smashes through the glass ceiling of tough/pretty boys and steals the Oscar.

LOCKE is in limited release in the States, see for screenings near you.



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