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With his breakthrough performance as Eames in Christopher Nolan's science fiction thriller Inception (2010), English actor Tom Hardy has been brought to the attention of mainstream audiences worldwide. But the versatile actor has been steadily working on both stage and screen since his television debut in the miniseries "Band of Brothers" (2001). After being cast in the World War II drama, Hardy left his studies at the prestigious Drama Centre in London and was subsequently cast in Ridley Scott's Black Hawk Down (2001) and as the villain Shinzon in Star Trek: Nemesis (2002).
As an only child to a writer father, Edward, and an artist mother, Anne, Hardy won a modeling competition when he was 21, but he spent his teens and early twenties battling delinquency, alcoholism and drug addiction. After completing his work on Nemesis, he sought treatment and has also admitted that his battles with addiction ended his 5-year marriage. Returning to work in 2003, Hardy was awarded the Evening Standard Most Promising Newcomer Award for his theatre performances in the productions of "In Arabia, We'd All Be Kings" and "Blood".
During the next five years, Hardy worked consistently in film, television and theatre, playing parts as varied as Robert Dudley in the BBC's "The Virgin Queen" (2005), Bill Sikes in "Oliver Twist" (2007), and starring in "The Man of Mode" at the National Theatre. In 2006, Hardy created "Shotgun", an underground theatre company along with director Robert Delamere, and directed a play, penned by his father for the company, called "Blue on Blue". In 2007, Hardy received a best actor BAFTA nomination for his touching performance as Stuart Shorter in the BBC adaptation of Alexander Masters' bestselling biography Stuart: A Life Backwards (2007) (TV). Hardy, hailed for his transformative character acting, was lauded for his emotionally and physically convincing portrayal in the ill-fated and warmhearted tale of Shorter, a homeless and occasionally violent man suffering from addiction and muscular dystrophy.
The following year, he appeared as gay hoodlum Handsome Bob in the Guy Ritchie film RocknRolla (2008), but it would be his next transformation that would prove his extensive range and stun critics. In the film Bronson (2008), Hardy played the notorious Charles Bronson (given name, Michael Peterson), the "most violent prisoner in Britain". Bald, bulked-up, and outfitted with Bronson's signature strongman mustache, Hardy is unrecognizable and gives a harrowing performance that is physically fearless and psychologically unsettling. Director Nicolas Winding Refn breaks down the fourth wall with Hardy retelling his tales directly to viewers as well as performing them outright before an audience of his own imagining. The performance mixes terrifying brutality, vaudevillian showmanship, wry humor, and an alarming amount of commitment, and won Hardy a British Independent Film Award for Best Actor. The performance got Hollywood's attention and, in 2009, Hardy was named one of Variety's "10 Actors to watch". That year, he continued to garner praise for his starring role in "The Take" (2009), a 4-part adaptation of Martina Cole's bestselling crime novel, as well as for his performance as Heathcliff in a version of Wuthering Heights (2009) (TV).
Sober since 2003, Hardy has dedicated himself to assisting others who struggle. His theatre company, "Shotgun", has an outreach program which helps disadvantaged people write their own material for stage and screen. Hardy is also the patron for the charity "Flack", which is an organization to aid the recovery of the homeless in Cambridge. And, in 2010, Hardy was named an Ambassador for The Prince's Trust, which helps disadvantaged youth. In early 2010, he starred in the Brett C. Leonard play "The Long Red Road". Written for Hardy and directed by Philip Seymour Hoffman, the play was staged at Chicago's Goodman Theater.
With a history of accomplished performances, and a scene-stealing turn in the blockbuster Inception (2010), Hardy has become one of the most exciting and in-demand actors in Hollywood. He has been cast as the iconic Mad Max in George Miller's reboot of his franchise, and has reportedly been drafted by Christopher Nolan once more for a major part in the finale to his Batman trilogy. In 2010, Hardy became engaged to fellow English actress, Charlotte Riley, whom he starred with in "The Take" (2009) and Wuthering Heights (2009) (TV), and is raising a young son, Louis, with ex-girlfriend Rachael Speed.