Legend—Tom Hardy’s Performance

November 23, 2016

161111_e_THardy-ReggieKrayCRBRLeft: Actor Tom Hardy as Ron Kray in “Legend.” Pentel Brush pen with background of Montana Marker, in an 8 x 8 inch Seawhite of Brighton Sketchbook—which loves brush pen.

If you don’t watch violent movies then don’t read my post today. I’m not going to discuss the violence shown in the movie I’m writing about, but it is one of the most violent movies I’ve ever seen and you aren’t going to watch it so stop reading and go have a really great day and get some sketching done.

Tom Hardy was robbed. I understand there’s a process for how the Academy awards are nominated and then voted upon. Maybe it’s a little bit too much to ask a predominantly LA-based industry to concern itself with British Film, but I still do not understand how Tom Hardy did not win an academy award for Best Actor for “Legend.”

Maybe the release time of the movie caused it to fall through the cracks?

Maybe members of the Academy are deeply uninterested in British gangsters?

It can’t be that they don’t want to watch violent films or award actors who excel at capturing violent characters on the screen. (Look at the list of Best Actor Awards.)

I just don’t get it.

Legend is a movie about the Kray Brothers, Reginald (Reggie) and Ron, who are identical twins, and who terrorized London in the 1960s.

There have been other movies about the Kray Brothers but in this movie Tom Hardy plays BOTH brothers. 

And he does it seamlessly. 

Let’s think about that for a moment.

While they were identical twins the Kray Brothers weren’t really identical. So it’s not like Hardy can simply jump from one side of the set to the other and do the next part as the other brother. There are some make-up and wardrobe changes that need to take place.

They also have some substantial character differences. Ron was the more controlled, and could control, for the most part, his brother Reggie’s outbursts. Reggie, well he was just sort of a force of emotion moving through the world enclosed in a large and powerful body—impulse control was not his strong suit.

I knew going into the movie that Tom Hardy would be playing both characters. But immediately there is such a sense of difference that you lose all sense of both those characters being Tom Hardy. (Before seeing this movie I’d watched other Tom Hardy movies, including The Drop which I recommend—it’s the last performance of James Gandolfini, and a tense and taut performance by the entire cast.)

Isn’t that what great acting does? Makes us forget we are watching an actor?

161111_f_Gangster-LegendKrayCRBRLeft: Competing gangster threatening the Kray’s in a bar scene. (I didn’t get the character’s name so I couldn’t look him up in the cast.) Pentel brush pen with Montana Marker background in an 8 x 8 inch Seawhite of Brighton Sketchbook.

And when the movie was over I could hardly speak because that’s when you have time to think about what you just saw: A man playing against NOTHING because he’s playing against himself in a performance that hasn’t been taped yet. And in playing against nothing he has to react, and he has to remember what he’s playing against, he has to modulate behavior and reaction at two ends of the spectrum, or even at the same point of the spectrum but with character specificity, and so on.

I sat down to watch the movie believing that it couldn’t be done. I got up from the movie knowing Tom Hardy was brilliant.

Hardy did win the British Independent Film Award for Best Actor for his performance in Legend.

I think we have to look at violent characters to understand humanity in general.

And I think we have to recognize actors who bring these characters to life in seamless ways that leave us rather stunned.

Want to see Tom Hardy disappear into another character watch “The Revenant” (you won’t even recognize him at first, but the mumble might clue you in).

Need more reasons to watch “Legend”? Well Christopher Eccleston (who has those ears I love so much), plays the police detective trying to bring the Krays down.

Want to see my painted version of another Tom Hardy beard? Check out this post on the TV show “Taboo.”

Update: 6.18.18 I just heard from another Tom Hardy fan, Zack Robbins at “Beardoholic.” Check out this post about Tom Hardy’s different beards. I love it.




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