THE RED BULLETIN: What’s the relevance of the wristbands you’re wearing?
TOM HARDY: They’re for organizations like Help For Heroes. I have a lot of friends in the Army, and some of them have lost limbs or suffered serious mental trauma. These are people who fight for our freedom. Soldiers are a specific type of person, and I feel a little bit guilty that I’m not one myself. It’s important to know that there are people like that in this world we live in. We shouldn’t turn our backs on them.
But everyone’s afraid of violence, aren’t they?
I can only speak for myself. Art often comes from a dark place. It’s my job to find out everything there is to know about a character, regardless of how awful they are.
So you must have discovered a lot about the nature of violence?
Real violence is horrible in a f*cked-up way, but at the same time it’s sober and prosaic. When something violent happens, it’s usually a shock and comes from nowhere. At the same time, perpetrators of violence can be really paradoxical. Take Ronnie Kray, one of the gangster twins I played in Legend. If he wasn’t taking his medication, he was prone to these massive fits of rage. But he could also be infectiously funny. He was an utterly warm-hearted person.
Is a certain degree of violence also an expression of masculinity?
You have to fully accept your own masculinity. But that has nothing to do with being macho. It also means that you can be like a mother; you can have a caring role. It’s about consideration, patience and cognitive skills. And if you can manage that, then when you die, someone will turn around and say, “Now, he was a good man…”
What makes a good man in a professional sense?
Showing mutual respect. You have to give your colleague that much when you know that he’s been a master of his craft for a good while already. You know he isn’t just sleepwalking through his career. You say to yourself, “I’ll help this guy however I can. I’ll try and make his job easier.” But there needs to be reciprocity. You help the other guy and he helps you.
Would you say that’s the way to win battles?
That, plus discipline, and the right amount of pressure applied to yourself and the talent you have. You also need to know that you can balls it up, look stupid and fail. But you carry on. You can’t win a fight if you haven’t been knocked out first. You don’t know what winning is if you don’t know what losing feels like.