Edward Thomas Hardy CBE was born 15 September 1977 and is an English actor, producer, and former model.
Hardy was born in the Hammersmith district of London, the only child of artist and painter Anne (née Barrett) and novelist and comedy writer Edward “Chips” Hardy. He is of Irish descent on his mother’s side. He was raised in the East Sheen suburb of London.
He attended Tower House School, Reed’s School, and Duff Miller Sixth Form College. He later studied at Richmond Drama School and the Drama Centre London, now a part of Central Saint Martins.
He made his feature film debut in Ridley Scott’s war thriller Black Hawk Down (2001). During this time, Hardy also had a brief stint as a rapper and hip hop producer with his friend Edward Tracy (under the name “Tommy No 1 + Eddie Too Tall”), with whom he recorded a mixtape called Falling On Your Arse in 1999 that remained unreleased until 2018. In 2002, Hardy appeared as the Reman Praetor Shinzon, a clone of USS Enterprise Captain Jean-Luc Picard in Star Trek: Nemesis. The following year, he appeared in the film Dot the i, and then travelled to North Africa for Simon: An English Legionnaire, a story of the French Foreign Legion. He then returned to the United Kingdom to feature in the horror film LD 50 Lethal Dose (2003). Hardy appeared with Emilia Fox in the BBC mini-series The Virgin Queen (2005) as Robert Dudley, a childhood friend of Elizabeth I. Dudley’s character has been described as an ambiguous young man who is torn between the affection of his wife (played by Fox), his love for Elizabeth and his own ambitions. Hardy featured in the BBC Four adaptation of the 1960s science fiction series A for Andromeda.
In 2007, he appeared in BBC Two’s drama based on a true story, Stuart: A Life Backwards. He played the lead role of Stuart Shorter, a homeless man who had been subjected to years of abuse and whose death was possibly a suicide. The same year he played Bill Sikes in the BBC mini-series Oliver Twist, an adaptation of Charles Dickens’s novel that aired on PBS Masterpiece Classic in the US. In February 2008, he played a drug-addicted rapist in the British horror-thriller WΔZ. In September 2008, he appeared in Guy Ritchie’s London gangster film, RocknRolla; Hardy played the role of gay gangster Handsome Bob. In 2008, Hardy starred in the film Bronson, about the real-life English prisoner Charles Bronson, who has spent most of his adult life in solitary confinement. For the film, he put on 19 kg (42 pounds).
In June 2009, Hardy starred in Martina Cole’s four-part TV drama The Take on Sky One, as a drug and alcohol-fuelled gangster. In August 2009, he appeared in ITV’s Wuthering Heights, playing the role of Heathcliff. In early 2010, Hardy starred in The Long Red Road at the Goodman Theatre in Chicago. In 2010, he starred as Eames in Christopher Nolan’s science fiction thriller Inception. Hardy replaced Michael Fassbender in the 2011 film adaptation of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. In March 2010, Hardy signed a first-look deal at Warner Bros.
In 2011, Hardy appeared in the film Warrior, which was released on 9 September 2011 by Lionsgate Films. His performance as Tommy Riordan, who is trained by his father to fight in a mixed martial arts tournament against his brother, gained praise from critics. Hardy also starred in This Means War (2012), a romantic comedy directed by McG. He played the supervillain Bane in The Dark Knight Rises, the final film in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Trilogy, released on 20 July 2012. He played a bootlegger in John Hillcoat’s crime drama Lawless (2012). Hardy has signed up to play the lead role of Sam Fisher in Ubisoft’s forthcoming film adaptation of their video game series Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell.
In 2014, Hardy appeared in the crime film The Drop alongside James Gandolfini, in what would be the latter’s final appearance in a feature film before his death. Hardy also joined the cast of the BBC crime drama Peaky Blinders in its second series. He portrays Alfie Solomons, the head of a Jewish gang and runner of a distillery which disguises itself as a bakery.
Hardy starred in five films in 2015. The first, Child 44, set in 1950s Soviet Union, saw him playing Leo Demidov, a Soviet secret police agent who investigates a series of child murders. Hardy then played the title character, Max Rockatansky, in the action film Mad Max: Fury Road (2015). He played a dual role as London gangsters Reggie and Ronnie Kray in the crime thriller Legend (2015). On 7 December 2015, Hardy won Best Actor at the British Independent Film Awards for his portrayal of the Kray twins, and on the same night attended the premiere of the biographical western thriller The Revenant, in which he reunited with his Inception co-star Leonardo DiCaprio.
Hardy played a Royal Air Force fighter pilot in Christopher Nolan’s action-thriller Dunkirk (2017), based on the British military evacuation of the French port of Dunkirk in 1940 during the Second World War. Hardy also co-produced and starred in the eight-part BBC One television drama series Taboo.
In 2018, Hardy starred in the film Venom, as the title comic book sometime hero, Eddie Brock / Venom. Based on the Marvel source material, the film was released on 5 October, and is meant to be the start of “Sony’s Universe Of Marvel Characters” (along with Silver and Black). It is connected to the Marvel Cinematic Universe as an “adjunct” film. In 2019, Hardy served as an executive producer in the 2019 BBC/FX three-part miniseries A Christmas Carol. In 2020, Hardy starred in Josh Trank’s Al Capone biopic Capone. Hardy is attached to star as British war photographer Don McCullin in a film based on McCullin’s autobiography, Unreasonable Behaviour. He will also reprise the role of Eddie Brock in the sequel Venom: Let There Be Carnage.
In 2010, Hardy became an ambassador for the Prince’s Trust, a UK youth charity which provides training, personal development, business start-up support, mentoring, and advice. In 2012, he and then-girlfriend actress Charlotte Riley became patrons of Bowel Cancer UK. Prior to the inaugural Invictus Games held in London in September 2014, he, along with other entertainers and athletes, read the poem “Invictus” in a promotional video.
In December 2018, Hardy became lead ambassador for the “Reorg Brazilian Jiu Jitsu foundation” which was launched in association with The Royal Marines Charity with the mission to provide a platform for serving personnel and veterans to learn Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, as part of their recovery pathway and to combat the challenge of mental health and physical disabilities. Hardy himself is a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu practitioner and has been seen training at Roger Gracie affiliate schools. He was awarded his blue belt in December 2020.
Hardy was addicted to alcohol and crack cocaine during his mid-20s, after which he checked himself into rehab following a particular low point. He has said that he was “out of control” on drink and drugs before he turned his life around, and was lucky that he did not contract HIV/AIDS while he was at his lowest.
During the filming of Bronson, Hardy met prisoner Charles Bronson several times and the two became friends. Bronson was impressed with how Hardy managed to match his muscularity, and how well he could mimic his personality and voice. Bronson stated that he believed Hardy was the only person who could play him.
He was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2018 Birthday Honours for services to drama.