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Tom Hardy on playing homosexual gangster Ronnie Kray:


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Legend director Brian Helgeland, known for his work on 42, A Knight's Tale and L.A. Confidential, could not have chosen a better suited person to play the roles of Reggie and Ronnie Kray than Tom Hardy. Having dominated the screen previously in roles such as Bane in The Dark Knight Rises and Alfie Solomons in Peaky Blinders, Hardy delivers the role of the Kray twins, the notorious London gangsters of the swinging 60s, naturally and with ease.

Brian Helgeland knew from the beginning that he needed Tom Hardy to deliver this highly demanding and serious role, as he stated: "One thing is for sure. I couldn't have done it without the literally multifaceted talent of Tom Hardy".

Despite the Krays being two brothers who lived very similar lives in the criminal underworld of London's East End, both characters possess very different qualities. Reggie Kray is suave, confident and dominant, whereas Ronnie is somewhat fragile, troubled, and extremely volatile. Both Helgeland and Hardy recognised that the story of the Krays is shrouded in mystery, yet Hardy certainly did his homework to become as familiar to the infamous pair as possible. He used pictures, diaries, and stories as primary sources to form a well rounded idea on who these men really were.

The only visual primary source where Hardy could watch and listen to the Krays speak was a BBC interview, however he aptly notes that "you can't really take a lot from that because they were on show, so can't really tell if that was their true voice or true mannerisms."

Hardy also speaks of the numerous "legends or mythic tales" that would circulate amongst people, forming "patterns of stories and anecdotes". Although usually mere rumours, this still helped Hardy form an impression of the twins. He certainly committed himself to the role, and went so far as to actually wear the watch that Reggie died in during filming.

The subject of Ronnie's homosexuality may have been an important aspect in playing the character, but Hardy insists that it is completely insignificant: "I didn't even think about it," he says, "it's just what it is isn't it? I don't think it needs playing... Ronnie was gay. That's it".

Hardy's admirable attitude to a potentially controversial topic increases his merit as both an actor and in his ability to play this character; it is refreshing to watch a homosexual character whose sexuality does not affect their identity or actions at all in the film, especially as it is set in the 1960s when homosexuality was illegal.

Hardy's ability to literally act opposite himself, switching between two characters, is a task which he appears to do with ease. Christopher Eccleston, who plays obsessive police officer Nipper Read in the film, praises Hardy's ability to switch between characters so effortlessly: "99 per cent of my scenes were with Reg," he says. "I had one scene with Ron, and that was a revelation... I had only met Tom as Reg and suddenly there was Ron and they were completely different."

Emily Browning, who plays Reggie's wife Frances highlights the smoothness of Hardy's transition also: "It wasn't really an issue for me... I mean Tom was there as Reggie and then he went away for a bit and he was Ron."

With between an hour and an hour and a half of make-up between each character Hardy's ability to create a chemistry between two is phenomenal. Despite this, there was much work behind the scenes to make this dynamic successful, "There was no CGI and stuff like that", explained Hardy, "there was no budget for it. So it was back to old school". Whether split screen was used, or Hardy acted in front of another actor, the cast and crew were successful in the technical side of this. He explains, "It was quite mathematical in a very strange sort of way...and a bit of creative blagging."

Hardy revealed his very methodical process of acting in the way that despite playing the twins, his attitude was somewhat indifferent to them: "It was sort of a thesis I work on for a bit... that was my show and tell under the Legend banner."

Despite the depth of his research, for Hardy this is not a reason to become attached with a finite opinion on the brothers. He says:  "I spent a little bit of time researching and working with them in fantasy and pretending and all that kind of stuff...and then I can just invest in the next thing that comes along, and each experience is something under the belt".

Legend is out in UK cinemas on 9th September. 

Read our verdict on Legend here

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