Many directors have signatures. Some like to use particular camera angles, some add excessive lens flare, some like to use the same actors frequently. Christopher Nolan likes to cast Tom Hardy, and then prevent you from seeing Tom Hardy. The actor famously played the villain Bane in The Dark Knight Rises a role where a mask prevented you from seeing most of his face. Now, Hardy has reteamed with Nolan for the director’s newest film, Dunkirk, where he plays a pilot, once again, with a mask covering most of his face. According to the director, he liked Hardy’s faceless work so much last time, he wanted to see what the actor could do with even less to work with…
”I was pretty thrilled with what he did in The Dark Knight Rises with two eyes and couple of eyebrows and a bit of forehead so I thought let’s see what he can do with no forehead, no real eyebrows, maybe one eye.”
Christopher Nolan is joking of course, but it has to be said that Nolan has seemingly started some sort of trend when it comes to casting Tom Hardy and then covering his face. Following Hardy’s performance in The Dark Knight Rises the actor has been seen in Mad Max: Fury Road, where he spent the film’s first act with a metal mask in his face, and The Revenant, where he had a bushy beard. It seems that Hardy’s most lauded performances have his face mostly covered.
Of course, the other part of the joke is that few would actually claim that Tom Hardy’s performance as Bane was one of the actor’s best. The mask itself was very much part of the problem as it made the character nearly impossible to understand at various points in the film. Also, in Mad Max: Fury Road Hardy barely says a word at all, with or without the mask. Christopher Nolan, however, tells the Independent that he thinks Hardy is great, and the fact that he can do such great work while being covered up is just a testament to that skill.
”Of course Tom, being Tom, what he does with single eye acting is far beyond what anyone else can do with their whole body, that is just the unique talent of the man, he’s extraordinary.”
Overall we can’t disagree. Tom Hardy’s a great actor and he has the Academy Award nomination to prove that he’s got some skills.
However, if Christopher Nolan thinks Tom Hardy does his best work while covered up, we have to wonder what the director thinks of Hardy’s performance in Inception? Did Nolan decide to start covering up Hardy after being forced to look at him during that shoot?