Published Sep 13, 2015Early next month, Tom Hardy will play a dual role as twin gangsters Ronald and Reginald Kray in the new film Legend. At a TIFF press conference, Hardy explained the challenges that came with playing two characters at once.
Initially, he was only offered the role of Reginald but convinced director Brian Helgeland that it'd be better for him to play both brothers. "I wanted to play both of them from the start and couldn't see one without the other," Hardy said. "I enjoyed the script and I enjoyed the characters as one, if that makes sense. If I had to choose one, and walk away from the table, I would've gone with Ron because there's more on the smorgasbord, as it were. There's a larger colour palette."
In order to play the twins, Hardy needed someone to work off of. Ultimately, he wound up calling his Mad Max body double Jacob Tomuri. "He's significantly more Mad Max than I am, and more Reggie Kray to be honest. He probably had about six hours of acting training the night before, and he had to take on easily the hardest challenge I've ever done technically as an actor, and he rose to the occasion playing both brothers, and he's not even in the film," Hardy said with a laugh. "He's not here, and no one cares."
Another challenge was capturing the London neighbourhood where the Kray brothers lived. "A lot of that neighbourhood was bombed, so the house is gone," Hardy explained. "In order to piece together the period of the 60s, you have to take little small areas that are significantly different. It's a bit like Williamsburg in some aspects — it is hard to find the old school London now.
"There was a junction with heavy traffic and lots of buses going by and tube trains, and you could see that there was a hip-hop party or whatever was going on," he added. "We had to put a church there and extend the road for the next three or four blocks as well to get that as well. But there was very minimal green screen throughout the piece, even with the brothers."
The Kray brothers are another two baddies in the long list of anti-heroes that pepper Tom Hardy's filmography. As he explains, the fantasy of rooting for the bad guy is important for audiences. "Ultimately, I think all of us would like to walk in those shoes for a day and just say no to any request made of me and do exactly what I want regardless of the consequences," he said. "That place is safe in a theatre and safe in a book and safe in a fantasy…. As soon as it becomes a real thing, the consequences are genuine and it no longer has the same compulsion.
"That's why people, certainly I do, like to watch characters that are rebellious or do what they want to do or anarchic or nihilistic or a bit crazy or off the wall," he continued. "Because it's something I'd love to do in real life. I wouldn't do it because I feel responsible to be a member of society, really. And I care about too many people and I love to many people to want to hurt anyone or harm anyone. It's impossible not to hurt people, but not to harm…. It's healthier to have that conversation in a safe place and to also see that it's part of the human condition."
Legend opens on October 2.