SAN DIEGO – Tom Hardy has plenty of reasons to be at Comic-Con this year, even with two blockbuster flicks far from their finish lines. But his forthcoming role in “Warrior” alongside of Joel Edgerton and Nick Nolte gave him pause as an actor and artist before “The Dark Knight Rises” and the “Mad Max” remake drops.

The “Inception” actor referred “Warrior” as a “high-end boutique” of a film, while those big Hollywood flicks are more like working at the Duty-Free in the airport, or bringing your A-game to a popular coffee franchise.
 
“[Warrior] is like the top end of creating something out of nothing,” Hardy told HitFix in an interview this weekend, saying that the film went through “a million” drafts, took years to edit.
 
“You deal with something Dark Knight – or ‘Mad Max,’ or ‘Superman’ or ‘Spider-man,’ whatever – it’s like going to work in an airport and going, ‘Hi I’m over here!’ and then everybody goes ‘Oh here’s that, that’s the villain of the piece.’ Then it’s a thousand people going to Duty-Free. Like, [shouting] ‘I AM THE VILLAIN!’ and make a lot of noise. There’s a formula here, you can’t muck around with it. There’s a lot of rules, you’re restrained in many ways as an artist. But then you’re also grateful because of the huge exposure and the paycheck.
 
“Or the not-paycheck ‘cause they’re making you a stahhh,” he affects. “Whatever it is, you’re paying an entrance to getting higher exposure. These movies are huge vehicles to make a lot of money… and make a large audience happy. So now you’re at the very top level of trying to bring character work in a boutique way to something that is, y’know, Starbucks.
 
“You work at it,” he said pointing at other journalists in the room. “It’s kind of hard, right?”
 
He and Edgerton’s roles as brothers and sons of Nolte’s in “Warrior,” on the other hand, came easy. Hardy described, at length, his admiration for veteran Nolte, calling him a hero, a behemoth and a bear with a “big heart,” as childlike and clown-like, and the “consummate professional.”
 
“Granted, he’s a bit wayward,” he laughed, “a bit wild, but that’s what we love about him. At the end of the day, we just want to know he’s ok.”
 
He and Edgerton fell right into it, having lived in the same building in Pittsburgh during shooting, fighting and training together during the day and playing Xbox (and, of course, fighting over Xbox).
 
“Warrior” is not only about the fights, but about the dysfunction and broken home that each actor character is recovering from. Edgerton said that this dynamic is the movie’s hitch, that transcends it from a mere boxing or action movie.
 
“My family is a complete opposite [from ‘Warriors’],” he said. “You couldn’t get a closer family than mine. The whole family thing of this film is what’s going to make it interesting. If it was just about fighting, it’d be neither here nor there.”

"Warrior" will be released Sept. 9.