Tom Hardy Legend Interview

Tom Hardy talks about laying gangster twines Reg and Ronnie Kray in the stylish new biopic Legend directed by Brian Helgeland and co-starring Emily Browning and Christopher Eccleston.

Q. When did you first hear about the Krays?

I think as a kid you see the books in the true crime section, at least I did anyway. I had a brief interest in true crime when I was about 15, going on holiday and grab a book or whatever. So that was when they first came across my horizon, they crossed me atmospherics then. But that’s about ti really. They’re about as familiar as a red telephone box in many aspects really. That was then and playing them was a question of going back to look at all the source materials that’s available. There’s a lot of source material on the Krays.

Q. Tom how did you get into the mind-set of Ronnie, particularly when it came to his sexuality?

You know I didn’t even think about it really. It’s just what it is really. I don’t think it needs playing. That’s that. Ronnie was Gay. Does that make sense? If I thought about it that would give me sorta pause to think and I had to do something. I had to get on with doing something which was my job. Ronnie’s gay, it’s all good. Does that make any sense? I think if you start playing anything then you kind of miss the point. I think what was complicated was that Reggie was also potentially.. we don’t know if he’s gay or not. So that’s where I had to look at Legend as its own separate entity. Within this Reggie is heterosexual, Ronnie is gay. Crack on. Does that make sense? Alright, cool.

Q. Does the connection between celebrity and organised crime still exist in that way?

Yeah you can access all areas of society in our job very easily. But the thing is we’re in the entertainment part of it and they’re not necessarily. They’re wired slightly differently.

Q. How did you research the roles?

There’s always a question about research isn’t there. It’s like have you done your homework. It’s like No, I didn’t know what I was doing. To a certain degree that’s true and let it be what it will be. But there is a plethora of research that one could do on the Krays. Right down to the fact I actually had Reggie’s watch which he died in on my wrist. We had various members of the world come out and talk. Private meetings like. There’s only one visual primary source of the Krays which is them speaking on the BBC for like a minute. But you can’t even tell much form that because they were on show, so you can’t tell if that’s their true voice or true mannerisms. There are lots of photos. Mainly it’s all legends and tales which are asinine. Usually told by people who didn’t know them. You get a lot of them come out. It forms patterns of stories and anecdotes that start to appeal a lot. I also had lots of diaries and some footage from a panorama documentary.

There you go I did loads of research. In the end I decide to not pay it any mind anyway, but only to answer that question.

Q. Tom you’ve been quoted as saying you were more drawn to playing to Ron than Reg, is that’s true why was it?

I mean that’s sort of paraphrased down but he truth of the fact is that just from a technical point of view Ron is predictably unpredictable. So just for a performer it’s fun to play because you have everything on the smorgasbord you can use, you have multiple options and you can pull the rug on anyone you want at any given time. So it’s a free ball character even if he wasn’t a Kray, it he was Idie Armine wit would be the same. Whether you’re going to naturalize that or going for a heightened reality of super surrealism. However you wanted to play it, that character is a free ball character. You can roam with him in any scene. Whereas Reggie has boundaries, he has the restrictions, he has to go a,b,c,d,e,f,g. That’s kinda boring for me in some way because I don’t want to go straight down the line. I want to make lateral choices and I want to have fun. I was drawn initially because I have a bit of a disco ball head to Ronnie. There’s some options there, with Reg I know he’s going that way even if I might want to take him another way.

Q. Tom where there any especially tricky shots playing two characters on screen at the same time?

No, not really. It was a question of how we were going to do it and it was pretty basic. There was no CGI or anything like that because there was no budget for it. It was back to old school basic drill. We were finding out how that stuff worked like split screen or talking to a text board. There had to be another actor there and someone who would take notes on what I was doing so that I could replicate it at the end of the day but also leave room so that I could change it. It was a mental puzzle that needed to be unpacked and then I could breathe life into it. At the same time you’ve got the rest of the cast there in real time trying to deal with the fact they’ve got a split dynamic in the room. So it was kinda mathematic in a strange sort of way. It was like stop, start. let the bitch breath. Then turn it all around and let the bitch breath again. It’s a mixture of sums, geometric shapes and maths with sort of a bit of creative stuff. The homework and more drugs for Nipper.

Q. How long was your turn around for changing between the brothers?

It was about an hour. We had wig, teeth, plumper up the nose. Aging stipple. So there was about an hours’ worth of makeup between Reg and Ronnie. But we couldn’t hang about we only had seven weeks to shoot it. So we had to move quickly. There was wedges in the shoes because Ronnie had to be a bit taller, then an extra layer of shirts because his shirt shad to look a bit bigger. Then a waistcoat and glasses. So there was a different silhouette between the two.

Q. Tom some people clearly admire the myth of the Krays or even see them as Robin Hood figures. What’s your view of them now having played them?

I just have a healthy indifference to be fair mate. It was sort of a thesis that I worked on for a little bit. That’s the subject and that’s my show and tell on it under the Legend banner. I spent a bit of time researching and working with them in fantasy and pretending. That’s where we leave ti mate at the end of the day. So I got to do a bit of research and schooling but I sort of have a healthy indifference to anything really so I can just invest in the next thing that comes along. Each experience is something under the belt to move forward with my training.

Leave A Comment