MAINE SUNDAY TELEGRAM
SUNDAY, MAY 25, 2014
By Christopher Kompanek
Special to the Washington Post
NEW YORK — “It will be over quickly,” Steven Knight told Tom Hardy. The writer-director remembers saying that to his prospective star as a way of convincing him to take part in his experimental project, “Locke,” a film that takes place in real time as the title character makes a fateful 85-minute drive. “You’ll only feel a tiny prick,” Hardy chimes in playfully.
Knight and Hardy met for the first time in November 2012 to discuss another film, but by February of the following year, they were filming “Locke.” “Tom loves theater and challenges and mad ideas, so I went and wrote it with Tom in mind,” Knight says.
The “mad idea” was making a film consisting solely of a man fielding phone calls while driving. Save for some exterior shots, the camera would remain focused on Hardy’s face. “There’s something about phone calls where people are saying one thing but their faces are saying something else, which is such a gift,” Knight enthuses. “It makes you look clever. Just trying to imitate the surreal way that people talk and the way that they jumble everything up and then just one line of poetry and then jumble everything up again and say the opposite of what they mean.”
Hardy first caught Knight’s (and most of the country’s) attention as Eames, the quick-witted forger with a biting sense of humor in the 2010 sci-fi thriller “Inception,” which starred Leonardo DiCaprio. “I was terrified because it was Leo. You can’t battle against somebody like that for screen time,” Hardy recalls. “I thought, I’m just going to give him whatever he needs, and it took a lot of a load off.” He learned that the more an actor gives of himself to other actors and the audience, the better he looks. He extrapolates that thought to life itself. “The more generous a person is in any environment, the more there is to be received.”
Hardy puffs an e-cigarette as he speaks, while sporting a T-shirt that exposes his several tattoos. He also regularly flashes a boyish grin, and he draws on this duality of hard and soft to craft characters that are difficult to ignore. “There’s no particular formula or process for me. I do like to mix some ‘Taxi Driver’ with Disney World,” the 36-year-old English actor says of his process. He has particular disdain for the word “thespian,” and the idea of method acting bores him, though he is known to deeply inhabit some of his roles.
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