After nearly a decade of small but memorable roles, Tom Hardy is ready to break out in a big way. This summer the actor will appear as the villain known as Bane in "The Dark Knight Rises." Hardy also co-stars in "Lawless," a factual thriller about Prohibition also starring Shia LaBeouf.
"Lawless" is set for its 2012 Cannes Film Festival debut followed by a U.S. opening on August 31. This could well become the summer of Tom Hardy, so here's a look back at his star-making trajectory:
* Born Edward Thomas Hardy on September 15, 1977, the future actor reportedly had a rebellious youth. As a teenager, he landed in jail for disorderly conduct, car theft, and possession of a gun.
* At age 21, Hardy won a modeling contest on the BBC morning show "The Big Breakfast." In a brief YouTube clip, Hardy is shown modeling on the catwalk. Host Jonathan Ross also mentions that the prospective model is a fan of Gary Oldman, his future costar in "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy" and "The Dark Knight Rises."
* In 2002, Hardy shaved his head to play Shinzon, a Romulan-created clone of Capt. Jean Luc Picard, in "Star Trek: Nemesis." Despite Hardy's performance, this installment brought in just $43 million at the box office.
* Hardy spent the bulk of the decade appearing in often overlooked projects. He appeared opposite up-and-coming stars in two British gangster flicks: Daniel Craig in "Layer Cake" and Gerard Butler in Guy Ritchie's "RocknRolla."
* Hardy first gained attention as a leading man for the titular part in "Drive" director Nicolas Winding Refn's "Bronson." To play the part of the infamous, rabble-rousing U.K. prison inmate, Hardy packed on 42 pounds of muscle.
* The actor reappeared on the pop culture radar with his role in Christopher Nolan's "Inception." Hardy plays Eames, a member of Cobb's (Leonardo DiCaprio) team of dream manipulators. Eames is classified as a "forger," meaning he can forge identities in real life as well as morph his appearance in the dream state.
* In 2011, Hardy played Tommy Riordan in the critically acclaimed "Warrior." Seeking to win a lucrative mixed martial arts competition, Tommy faces off against his equally cash-strapped brother in the finals. In an interview with OnTheRedCarpet.com, Hardy said that training for his fight scenes made him and his costars "fat."
* "This Means War," a 2012 romantic comedy, cast the actor as a CIA agent competing for the same woman. In a "Star Trek" connection, Hardy's rival is played by Chris Pine, the actor embodying the current cinematic incarnation of James T. Kirk.
* The actor's role as Bane in "The Dark Knight Rises" reunites him with director Christopher Nolan. Hardy also appears here opposite Joseph Gordon-Levitt, one of his "Inception" co-stars.
* The Bane character was at the heart of "Knightfall," a 19-part story arc that ran through various DC Comics titles in 1993. Bane is an extremely intelligent and strong villain whose abilities are enhanced by infusions of a drug called "Venom" that give him superhuman strength, endurance, and aggression.
* "Lawless" is inspired by Matt Bondurant's "The Wettest County in the World." Bondurant drew upon the bootlegging exploits of his grandfather and granduncles to tell a story of Prohibition-era greed and violence.
* Shia LaBeouf plays Bondurant's grandfather Jack while Hardy plays Howard, one of Jack's brothers.
* Robert "Jeep" Swenson is credited for playing Bane in 1997's "Batman & Robin." This installment of the franchise has been widely criticized, especially for the villain's confusing appearance. Instead of an intelligent, cunning criminal, Bane was portrayed as an inarticulate thug.
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- Tom Hardy