You and your cadre of in-the-know film-loving buddies may love and revere Tom Hardy.
Hollywood agrees, setting up Hardy's Next Big Thing status with upcoming movies like "This Means War" and a sure-to-be-showy supporting turn in next summer's "The Dark Knight Rises."
Most Americans don't have the faintest clue who Tom Hardy actually is.
Yes, he's the guy from "Inception" who isn't Leonardo DiCaprio, who wasn't on "Third Rock From the Sun," who wasn't a villain in "Batman Begins" and who wasn't the girl from "Juno." That's a thin layer of recognition, but it's nebulous.
For a few minutes, it looked like "Warrior" might be Hardy's breakout. Word out of early screenings was rapturous and a small circle of critics was briefly convinced that if "The Fighter" could earn Oscars and blockbuster status last year, the time might be perfect for a blue collar MMA "Rocky." Perhaps the decision to position "Warrior" for credibility, rather than visceral thrills led to a box office take somewhat short of what "The Smurfs" pulled in by the end of its first afternoon.
But if you missed Hardy's spectacularly creepy performance in "Meadowlands" (or "Cape Wrath," as it was called before Showtime decided American audiences couldn't handle such an awesome title), or his spectacularly psychotic performance in "Bronson," or his memorable, but spectacularly brief, performance in "RocknRolla," you haven't run out of chances to be the last person on your block to "discover" Tom Hardy.
If you can wait a couple more weeks, Hardy has one of the showier supporting performances in Tomas Alfredson's "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy," an evocative slow-burn adaptation of the John Le Carre espionage classic. But it's a good enough movie and its cast is ridiculously deep enough that Hardy only registers as an afterthought.
Perhaps that's why Encore has scheduled the American premiere of the British miniseries "The Take" for this month: "The Take" is offers the fully immersive Tom Hardy experience. It takes less than four hours to watch the entire series and when it's over, there's really no way to talk about anything or anybody other than Hardy. I don't think that speaks particularly well for "The Take" as an overall television experience, but if you've looked at Hardy and had "What's the big deal?" doubt -- meaning you definitely haven't seen "Bronson" -- this should clear things up.
A few words on "The Take," which premiered on British TV back in 2009, after the break...