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Warrior - Tom Hardy interview

Warrior, Tom Hardy

Interview by Rob Carnevale

TOM Hardy talks about some of the physical challenges of making Warrior, including some of his injuries, and why he now has a newfound appreciation for the world of Mixed Martial Arts.

He also talks about why Warrior is also a moving family drama and what it was like to shoot his fight scenes in front of thousands of people…

Q. What is your personal pain threshold like? Did you pick up a lot of injuries?
Tom Hardy: I had a cracked rib, broken toe, broken ligaments and right hand. Joel tore his MCL and got punched in the head a couple of times, which he deserved [laughs]. Don’t get me wrong, I whinged and moaned and bitched and cried and slept and howled my way through it.

But there was something really invigorating about getting punched in the face as well [laughs]! And I missed it… although when I left it I said: “I’m never doing that again! I don’t want to speak to anybody, I don’t want to see anybody…” It was horrible, it was awful. But now it’s like: “Pea [his personal trainer], can we have a wrestle?” Do you know what I mean? It’s back on the repertoire now and we still train. Peanut is my boy over there [sitting in room in corner] and I pretty much fight Peanut every day of the week to stay sharp at the moment.

Q. How did you enjoy taking part in the fight choreography?
Tom Hardy: The guys who choreographed it were from Hong Kong. These guys were fighters: Fernando Chien and Jace Jeanes, an old shoot fighter from Texas. Sam Hargrave was Wolverine. He was the Brad Pitt of stunt-men but Fernando, the mai-tai fighter, is a really serious fighter and he was into all of the moves, right in there, from every angle. He was meticulously planning stuff. He looked at different fighters, created hybrids, put everything together like an anorak. He’s in the film actually, as well as the editing room. We also have to be honest because we don’t want to forget our stunt-men, they are a very, very serious fraternity… JJ Loco Perry was the overlord of the stunt team. He was the stunt co-ordinator. But Fernando’s voice was very loud in a good way and he deserves respect in a massive way because he was responsible for the authenticity of the MMA inter-actions that we had.

Gavin O’Connor also deserves credit for getting so many guys together for us to be able to use and to create an authenticity that was, funnily enough, just a backdrop to what actually, more importantly – and trying not to be a dick here – is a movie about family and about the struggle of a family wanting to have a voice and to find themselves and come back together. So, Warrior isn’t just an MMA movie. We do have this massive authentication, where people were really serious about what they were doing, to support ultimately a drama.

Q. It does provide a very real emotional backdrop to these two leading men as well…
Tom Hardy: Well, it’s not about the size of the dog in the fight, it’s about the size of the fight in the dog and that can come from anywhere. I have a friend who is a very high level operator and he has a public boarding school background but you wouldn’t know that if you met him. You absolutely wouldn’t see him coming and he’s probably one of the toughest men I’ve ever met in my life. So, it’s interesting how close honour and loyalty and kindness can be – they’re important characteristics to belong to all human beings: love, care, understanding and yet violence can be so close together.

The fight world is amazing because you carry these stories of normal human beings under extraordinary duress in a very athletic sport, yet it takes all sorts to be part of that sport. It’s a wonderful world to put a magnifying glass in to find out what type of people really are involved in the mixed martial arts world. It’s a much bigger operation than just a sport for a select few. There’s an awful lot in that world that reflects life and also something to aspire towards.

Q. What was it like shooting those fighting scenes in front of so many people and maintaining the balance of physicality and drama?
Tom Hardy: Well, we shot 210 hours of fight footage over six weeks in total in front of 1,000 people. So, the first week it was great but by week six it was like ‘f**k this man, it’s cold’ [laughs]. We were being sprayed with water in between each take and running up and down the beaches. There’s only so much you can take before you go: “OK, I’m over this.” My character’s name is Tommy and my name is Tom, so when I came out and had all those Marines shouting ‘Tommy’ it was a good day for my ego [laughs]. I thought: “I can do this! I can do this!” And then I got the ring and the director would be like: “And that’s lunch!” And I’d be like: “Hey, I’m ready to go!”

Q. Would you be curious to continue fighting as a hobby?
Tom Hardy: To my level, of course. So definitely, for my level, with the pads I’d compete but at my level – white belt. I’d definitely fight another white belt.

Read our review of Warrior

Joel Edgerton interview