7/31/2012

Every great actor has one great role in a bad movie. Tom Hardy is a big actor now, but in 2002 he starred in the Star Trek flop called Star Trek: Nemesis. Ten years later, Hardy plays the vicious terrorist Bane in the Batman movie The Dark Knight Rises (2012). What a change.

The movie cast Hardy as a Romulan clone of Captain Picard (Patrick Stewart) called "Praetor Shinzon." He builds a warship and leads a team of alien Reman in an uprising against their masters. Huffington Post calls it "a critical and commercial flop."

While the movie Nemesis is seriously flawed, I always thought Tom Hardy's performance was exceptional. My favorite line is when the Romulan woman tries to seduce him and he says, "If you ever TOUCH me again...I WILL kill you. Now go." You can see a lot of Bane in his screentest if you look hard enough.

Tom Hardy's Pinky 2 made a video comparison using his screen test and scenes from Nemesis. These scenes are from his first conversation with Picard over dinner.



The difference is striking and here are my reasons why.

1. His Costume Is Too Tight
The elaborate Reman uniform restricts his movement. When you see him in the screen test his body language is exceptional. He leans in. Shakes his head and generally emotes beautifully. In the costume his outfit is so tight he can barely move his head. When you have a suit that's "squeezing your testicles" it's hard to give a good performance. "The costume itself goes from the top of my toes to the top of my neck, and it's made out of vinyl, which is totally nonporous." Hardy said in the book Star Trek Nemesis by J.M. Dillard. "The jacket, which is the crowning achievement of the costume, is made of thick vinyl. Basically, when I'm in it, my skin and pores are not breathing. This is complicated by the fact that my head is totally covered in prosthetic makeup, so there's no breathing anywhere except through my mouth or nostrils. That made for a physical challenge that I hadn't quite prepared myself for."  I'm sure this challenge prepared him for the physically demanding role of Bane later on.

2. He Was Young
He was only 24 years old and he was really nervous. He was so excited to get the role that the audition tape he sent in was just him dancing around "butt naked" in a hotel room. He saw himself as a "fairly new actor" and put those natural skills aside to play the way others wanted him to. Which leads to the next point.

3. He Didn't Trust Himself
Hardy has natural acting skills, but he was so young that he didn't really trust himself. He said he was trying to play a villain with, as he said in an interview "a bunch of people that had been doing it so long and are so good at it."  One of those people being Sir Patrick Stewart.

4. He Was Trying To Be Patrick Stewart
Patrick Stewart has a Shakespearean acting style and doesn't overplay his performance. The style works for him, but can be a little stiff with a different actor. Hardy's first impulse was to play Shinzon just like Patrick Stewart. He got a bunch of DVDs and tried to mimic him. Eventually, he realized that the two are nothing like each other. But if you watch the final performance his lack of movement is mirrored in Stewart.

5. His Makeup Held Him Back
In order to look more like Stewart Tom Hardy had to endure hours of makeup. "Here I am playing a clone of Patrick Stewart," Hardy said "And he comes in, takes about fifteen minutes to get his makeup on, and I sit there for a couple of hours getting the nose and chin glued on." Talking and acting while having makeup constricting your face sounds a lot like the mask he wore in The Dark Knight Rises. Back then, it was all new.

The reality is that cream always rises to the top. While Hardy's acting skills were ignored in Star Trek: Nemesis his acting was finally recognized and celebrated in The Dark Knight Rises.

Via Huffington Post
What do you think of Tom Hardy's screen test? Do you see Bane in Hardy's screen tests? Would Star Trek: Nemesis have been better with his original performance.


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9 comments:

Melissa Bradley said...

I forgot he was in that! Thanks for sharing this. I think Tom Hardy is awesome and your assessment of his screen test is great. I did enjoy Nemesis in spite of all its flaws. You know, other than First Contact, they really could not seem to find a right movie path for TNG. My fave of the series was Deep Space Nine. I really dug Avery Brooks and remembered him as my fave Hawk in Spenser for Hire.

I gave you an award as I just love this place. Here's the link http://melissasimaginarium.blogspot.com/2012/07/my-liebster-award.html

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I forgot he was in Nemesis as well! His screen test is good. Damn he was young. Agree with Melissa - First Contact was the best. And DS9 was my favorite of the series. Shame those never made it to the big screen.

sqt said...

The first thing I noticed (before I even read your bullet points) was the costume. It really seemed to constrict his movement. Also, I couldn't help but notice the chin dimple in the finished product.

I haven't seen this movie in ages. It would be worth going back and watching it again just to see a young Hardy.

Maurice Mitchell said...

Great point about the makeup SQT. I'll have to add that to the list. It is worth watching again. I found the DVD at Walmart for five bucks.

Liesel Hill said...

Awesome post! Really fascinating! I remembered him from Star Trek (total TNG nerd, right here!) but haven't watched it in years. I agree with you that all the body language below the neck goes away, probably because of the costume. One thing I will say about the movie performance is that he seems much more confident. He makes much more direct eye contact rather than looking around the room. This is could be the result of a couple of things. 1) Trying to get the role vs. already having the role! :D or 2) Perhaps the director wanted him to play the part with more confidence. I kind of went back and forth on which one I liked more. Probably the screen test, for the most part. Especially the second scene when they talk about "personal feelings." In the film version, Hardy sounds like he's trying to convince Picard. In the screen test, he was much more sinister--almost mad--about it, and that was definitely better. The lines in the film also feel more rushed. Again, that could be logistical. The film has a time limit so the lines probably had to be said more quickly, but even so.


What a great post! I've seen screen tests before but I've never studied the test and film version side by side before. It's really fascinating. Not only are the nuances of the performances different, but it's interesting to see how the dialogue changed a little bit in transition as well. Great study! :D

Tony Laplume said...

I maintain that Nemesis was a brilliant film, and a good portion of its brilliance came from Hardy's performance, which made me a fan basically ten years before everyone else. Your beats as to why Shinzon doesn't work strike me as trying to read flaws where they don't exist, to help explain the greater commercial failure of the film, which wouldn't have had a fair shake either from Star Trek fans or general audiences, for any number of reasons, no matter if it truly was what everyone said it was, at that point in time. Nemesis begs to be revisited from a more impartial perspective.

jeremy [retro-zombie] said...

wait... i liked nemesis, i didn't even realize that was him in the film. it's not the greatest in the series... i guess just nice to see everyone in one place, except data... he was in a couple places.

Pat Dilloway said...

I remember looking this movie up on IMDB once because I was curious who played his character. Then I was like, "Oh, some nobody." But then Inception happened and now he's a big star. And he got to be in the crummy movie with Chris Pine and Reese Witherspoon, so he's been on the screen with at least two Starfleet captains.

Kevin said...

We needed Bane in Nemesis.


*Ship cloaks*
Oh. You think Cloaking is your ally? You merely adopted and reversed engineered it, I was born working a Cloak, molded by it, I didn't see a ship until I was a man. By then I didn't want to see the ship! *attacks cloaked ship*

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