Tom Hardy didn't need to see a script before he agreed to play the villainous Bane in "The Dark Knight Rises." All he needed was a phone call.
Hardy said that in their initial conversations, director Christopher Nolan "wouldn't tell me anything else about the character, except that he was a very bad guy."
In an interview with Yahoo! Movies, Nolan discussed how he recruited Hardy, who had previously appeared in Nolan's "Inception," to take on the role of the hulking masked terrorist who faces off against Batman. Nolan recounted how he called Hardy after finishing "Inception" and laid out the unique challenges of the part.
"I said, 'Tom, there's good news and bad news,'" Nolan recalled. "The good news is I've got a great character for you. The bad news is, you're going to cover your face. People are only going to see your eyes. You're going to have to express depths of evil just through your voice, your eyes, and your physicality. And I knew he'd be up for that, and he was. He loved it."
Hardy has also said that audiences not seeing his face -- or not getting to see the script himself beforehand -- did nothing to dampen his enthusiasm for the role. Hardy said he asked Nolan, "You want me to come and work with you, travel around the world, have a stunt team and all the weapons I could possibly want to play with, and all I have to do is wear a mask?" When Nolan answered yes, Hardy said, "I'm in!" Eventually, of course, he discovered that he was playing the masked villain Bane.
After agreeing to the role, Hardy set about transforming himself from the slick, well-dressed forger he played in "Inception" to the menacing bad guy. Hardy had some experience beefing up for earlier movies like "Bronson," where he played a notorious prison inmate, and "Warrior," in which he played an MMA fighter. For Bane, he put on 30 lbs. through months of rigorous training (and eating).
He also had to deal with Bane's mask, which in the movie delivers an anesthetic to dull the constant, paralyzing pain from a botched prison surgery. The mask was designed from a 3D computer model of Hardy's face so it would seal tightly around him. Costume designer Lindy Hemming said, "It was gripping Tom's head like a vice... The fact that he tolerated it, let alone acted with it, was astounding."
Hardy is actually one of three actors from "Inception" drafted by Nolan to come aboard "The Dark Knight Rises." Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Marion Cottilard also play significant roles in both film. Hardy told The Hollywood Reporter at Monday night's premiere for "Rises" that he didn't realize that Nolan was considering him for Bane while they were making "Inception." Hardy said, "I hope he quietly auditioned me during this film for something else."