Let Tom Hardy Do His Silly Voices!

Tom Hardy stars as Eddie Brock/Venom in Columbia Pictures' VENOM: LET THERE BE CARNAGE.
Tom Hardy stars as Eddie Brock/Venom in Columbia Pictures' VENOM: LET THERE BE CARNAGE. /

The inaugural line of dialogue in the very first trailer forThe Bikeriders made it apparent that leading man Tom Hardy was not about to shift out of his love for silly voices just for this "grounded" feature. "I've been thinkin'," Hardy as Johnny contemplates in this very distinctive timber, "I can't run this club forevah." Just from those few words, Hardy sounds a bit like a Kennedy impersonating Meowth from the English-language dub of Pokemon. As he keeps talking about how “this is our family…you and me, kid”, Hardy’s voice takes on a slightly more authoritative, deeper quality. It also feels more and more intriguingly incongruous with the flashes of distinctly rural imagery kicking off the trailer. Rather than being a distraction, the dissonance compels the imagination.

Hardy hasn’t opted for the broad Southern Trace Adkins accent one might associate with a biker. He’s gone a more unexpected, though no less pronounced, direction. Given that this voice started the entire marketing campaign for The Bikeriders, people immediately had opinions over Hardy’s voice. That’s understandable given what striking choices Hardy is always making in the vocals of his characters. They’re so distinctive that they’ll inevitably not resonate the same with everyone. Others even view them as just a gimmick. Me? I kind of adore it. Not every idiosyncratic voice Hardy embraces is God-tier, but he’s always mixing it up in his cinematic exploits. You have to respect that.

Tom Hardy has been acting since the early 2000s when he was deemed the perfect choice to play a young Patrick Stewart in Star Trek: Nemesis. He dabbled in some silly vocal flourishes in these early days of his career. However, early Hardy performances, perhaps because he was still trying to establish a steady acting career, slightly dialed back his more indulgent vocal variations. In Inception, for example, plays the character of Eames with only a slight variation on his natural voice. The smooth voice of Eames is supposed to suggest confidence, but it's not really a big bold change from Hardy's normal speaking style. Meanwhile, in the American-set Warrior, London, England native Hardy gave Tommy Riordan Conlon a standard midwestern American accent. He didn't even channel a very specific region of America (Boston, California, East Texas, etc.) in his voice for Conlon.

However, Hardy ramped up his love for silly voices with his work in The Dark Knight Rises. Inhabiting a massive blockbuster sequel to one of the biggest movies in history potentially gave Hardy the confidence to go-for-broke. With a bigger audience than he’d ever get again in his career, it was time for Hardy to get wild. In playing muscular Bane, Hardy took on a distinctively British contemplative voice. It was a voice not far removed from Maurice LaMarche’s voice for the Catscratch butler rather than anything resembling Bane’s vocals in prior Batman media. Hardy also injected a chipper quality to Bane's delivery of lines like "of course!" that provided such a fascinating dissonance to the man’s brutal actions.

That same summer, Hardy reveled in a deep Southern drawl for his performance as one of the leads in the Southern crime drama Lawless. Over one season of moviegoing, Hardy went from channeling high British society to embracing a voice that could’ve belonged to Travis Tritt’s father.  A new motif of Hardy's career was unlocked ironically the same year he headlined the dismally reviewed This Means War with another generic American accent. From here on out, Hardy was going to be bringing a very memorable vocal touch to most of his roles. While Hardy went for a more restrained voice in the 2014 Brooklyn crime drama The Drop, 2015's Mad Max: Fury Road saw Hardy embracing a grizzled voice appropriate for a man navigating the apocalyptic ruins of the Earth.

Hardy's Max Rockatansky doesn't talk much in Fury Road. The few words he does emit suggest how a dearth of water has shattered his vocal chords. His Oscar-nominated turn in the Western The Revenant, meanwhile, saw Hardy occupying a voice reminiscent of the default timber of Jeff Bridges. With these 2015 productions, Hardy’s commitment to bombastic voices was cemented. He wasn’t about to stop anytime soon. Just look at his various times headlining Venom movies, in which he plays dual roles as human Eddie Brock and the alien symbiote attached to him. For Brock, Hardy delivers every line with a weaselly, slightly nasally pitch. By contrast, the symbiote’s vocals are deep and ominous, which are meant to humorously juxtapose with the otherworldly creature’s more mundane dietary desires.

, Hardy delivers lines like "look at you!" in a thick southern drawl that sounds like a precursor to the voice of future Rian Johnson protagonist Benoit Blanc! Not all of these voices result in something extraordinary (I’m personally more mixed on the Venom movies than most queer film geeks). However, they usually exhibit an impressive level of commitment on Hardy’s part to his performances. This guy isn’t interested in repeating himself by giving Bane and Eddie Brock the same voice. He wants to inject idiosyncratic qualities into his roles across projects like Lawless and Legend. That level of dedication is deeply admirable.

This trait of Hardy’s also gives his performances something resembling energy and personality. His big slurring wiseguy voice for Capone may not work for everyone, but it’s full of effort and isn’t anything resembling what a studio executive would want to see. Those qualities are especially admirable given the dismal era for leading men Hardy emerged in. The first-half of the 2010s saw Hollywood foisting tons of white dudes form Britain and Australia on the unwitting general public. Aaron Taylor-Johnson/Max Irons/Brenton Thwaites/Jai Courtney/Liam Hemsworth/Alex Pettyfer (among so many others) all had the same body type, personality, and minimal level of charisma. Despite being heralded as new movie stars by major Hollywood studios, few of them exhibited anything that left an impression on moviegoers. They were safe in everything from appearance to voices to the films they anchored.

While Alex Pettyfer’s early 2010s star turns all bleed together, Hardy’s Capone and Mad Max: Fury Road performances are discernibly different creatures. In an age of buttoned-up guys trying to recapture the lighting in a bottle success of Taylor Lautner, here was Hardy, a grimy boy with a deeply malleable voicebox. While the flat American accent of Charlie Hunnam became a punchline in the 2010s, Hardy was busy giving even deleted Star Wars scenes deeply memorable vocal flourishes. The combination of the death of the movie star and a truly dismal crop of would-be icons ensured the 2010s was a hopeless era for potentially new iconic leading men. Tom Hardy’s voices would stand out in any era. But in the 2010s, he was a balm for the soul, a man taking more cues from Christopher Walken and Nicolas Cage than Scott Eastwood in his voicework.

The Bikeriders is poised to continue this fascination of Hardy’s. Undoubtedly this voice will inspire some humorous memes and social media punchlines. However, it’s also likely this feature will extend Hardy’s streak of standing out more compared to early 2010s leading men. For some, Hardy’s voices may be too annoying of a schtick. I say, let the man do his silly voices. Give me something to talk about, good or bad, rather than leaving me bored to tears in the theater. Certainly voices like Capone’s vocal choices for Capone inspire the kind of enduring conversation most performances dream of!

Next. Why You Need to See Daffy Duck in Wackyland. Why You Need to See Daffy Duck in Wackyland. dark