General audiences first encountered actor Tom Hardy as the smooth-talking Forger in Christopher Nolan’s Inception. His velvety British voice drove audiences wild. He was smooth, refined, and weirdly enough, exactly what you’d imagine Hardy was like in real life. But in actuality, Hardy is a consummate method actor whose bag of tricks involves crimping his natural British inflection into increasingly ridiculous accents. He’s like Johnny Depp, only people aren’t laughing at him about it.
In a first for audiences, Hardy simplifies his linguistic gymnastics in the upcoming FX series Taboo, where he plays a 19th-century rogue adventurer managing his family’s shipping fortune after the death of his father. It’s the kind of Regency-era tale you’d imagine would have been the perfect opportunity for him to do some weird vocal tic. Instead, he goes back to what is ostensibly his real accent and lets his intense performance do the talking. It’ll be quite a shock to those fans who are use to his normal vocal tics, a round up of which we’ve gathered below.
Charles Bronson in Bronson
The movie that essentially introduced the world to the contemporary marble-mouthed Hardy; here Hardy plays a notorious cockney criminal. Part of it relies on director Nicolas Winding Refn’s stylistic dread, but Hardy’s titular character is such a force of nature that everything is pulled towards him like a performative black hole. Hardy’s convict spews his dialogue like a maniacal thespian trying to contort his voice, reflected in a very theatrical P. T. Barnum strongman mustache Hardy sports throughout the movie.
Tommy Conlon in Warrior
Hardy’s Pittsburgh pugilist definitely spouts a “yinz” or two in director Gavin O’Connor’s slept-on 2011 sport drama. Warrior is among Hardy’s most brutally physical performances, even down to the way he lets out slack-jawed, mostly pissed off laments to his boozing father played by Nick Nolte in an Oscar-nominated performance. His yarbling gives a whole new meaning to punch-drunk love, and despite its exaggerated nature, its probably one of his most tender performances.
Forrest Bondurant in Lawless
Hardy’s other most interesting attempt at regional Americana is his moonshine-soaked dixie drawl in Lawless. His guttural expressions flow in such a slow, threatening way; the tipsy approach from Hardy here is definitely on purpose. He plays a kind of unwanted crime family patriarch, and the audience hangs off of every small utterance because the character speaks only when he needs to. Bonus points for the character’s incredible cardigan. You have to look good when you speak like that.
Bane in The Dark Knight Rises
Perhaps the most noteworthy of Hardy’s lineup of bizarre accents, his turn as the big bad guy of Christopher Nolan’s third Batman movie is so memorable that people imitate it six years later. Doing the Bane voice is like trying to do a British dandy accent while speaking into a tin can wrapped in a bath towel.
Bob Saginowski in The Drop
The Drop is mostly known as one of James Gandolfini’s final performances, but it also includes Hardy’s attempt at a Brooklyn bruiser accent. Imagine an American trying to do a cockney accent would be like, but in reverse.
Ronald and Reginald Kray in Legend
Two bafflingly ridiculous British accents for the price of one, though, to be fair, these could be Martian accents for all we know.
Ivan Locke in Locke
Hardy’s first film with Steven Knight is the minimalist drama Locke, where Hardy plays a timid construction manager on a nighttime journey to the depths of his own familial psyche. It’s also a movie where literally the only thing that happens is Hardy driving a car down a highway and talking on the phone. Hardy’s buzzing, almost nonexistent Welsh accent and head cold not only adds to the character’s exasperation as the night draws on. Words lilt off Hardy’s tongue, innocently drawing the audience into Locke’s predicament. He’s magnetic even when he’s calling his car a “fucking piece of worthless shit.”
John Fitzgerald in The Revenant
Never has the word “pelts” been more lovingly spit out than in Hardy’s turn as Fitzgerald, a scalped fur trader in director Alejandro González Iñárritu’s The Revanant. Second only to Bane on the “This Tom Hardy Accent is Great to Imitate” Scale, all you have to do is just throw some marbles in your mouth and try it. Pelts! Pelts! Pelts! See, that felt incredible, almost enough to make you want to go deep within the wilderness to exact revenge on the guy who left you for dead all over some — you guessed it — pelts! Leo DiCaprio may have gotten the Oscar gold, but Hardy gets the linguistic gold here.
Alfie Solomons in Peaky Blinders
Hardy’s violent and unpredictable Jewish gangster in Knight’s other TV show, Peaky Blinders is a sight (and sound) to behold. The dialect is so off the charts that it’s nearly impossible to understand him without subtitles, even for native English speakers, but its endearing once the close captioning is on. It’s the Tom Hardy performance to end all Tom Hardy performances, marbled mouthed-accent and all.Photos via FX