Tuesday brought the latest trailer for Venom, and the long-awaited unveiling of Tom Hardy’s thick-tongued symbiote confirmed that audiences are getting not one, but TWO bizarre new accents from the famously marble-mouthed actor.
As “re-paw-dur” Eddie Brock, Hardy’s slurry mumble seems pitched at that sweet spot between New York and Boston where it’s hard to tell which city would make him an insufferable baseball nut faster. And as the monstrous antihero Venom, he’s got a strange British affectation reminiscent of a whiskey-drunk Richard Burton (if Richard Burton had passed his evenings threatening to gore grocery store patrons until their mangled torsos rolled down the streets like “a turd in the wind”).
Die-Hardys among us, of course, will tell you his odd vocal deliveries are nothing new. Hardy’s approach to accents is one of the enduring mysteries of modern cinema, to be forever dissected, yet never truly known. Here’s EW’s guide to some of the finest and freakiest in Hardy’s growing stable of inscrutable onscreen accents, from amusingly eccentric to completely baffling.
Shinzon, Star Trek: Nemesis
Playing a Picard clone in this highly forgettable Star Trek outing, Hardy’s voice was less noticeable than how he shaved his head to mirror Patrick Stewart. Though highly theatrical and delivered through a curiously clenched jaw, the actor’s line readings in one of his earliest roles are some of his most straightforward.
Ronald Kray, Legend
We’re evaluating the Kray brothers separately, because Hardy brings distinctly different British accents to each. For the psychotic Ronnie, Hardy slips into a lower vocal register, a gritted-teeth malevolence underlining his thick East End croak.
Reggie Kray, Legend
More polished and pinched than that of his brother, Reggie’s voice is no less sinister, Hardy treating every syllable like it’s a knife he’s sharpening under the table. Especially when he gets heated as Reggie, he sounds uncannily like a young Gary Oldman.
Ivan Locke, Locke
Hardy’s harangued Welshman — seen exclusively behind the wheel in this Steven Knight-directed drama — has a strange, almost Indian-sounding musicality to his diction. Turns out the guy Hardy reportedly based on the accent on was actually from Surrey, which explains absolutely nothing.
Bob Saginowsky, The Drop
The closest precedent in Hardy’s filmography for his Eddie Brock voice in Venom might be his sullen Noo-Yawk drawl in this 2013 drama, which was scripted by Boston crime-fic kingpin Dennis Lehane. As a soft-spoken Brooklyn bartender with a hidden dark side, he’s curiously monosyllabic, delivering his dialogue in a low, sluggish grumble.
Leo Demidov, Child 44
“Badly overdone” describes most everything about this catastrophic misfire of a thriller, including Hardy’s goofy meat-and-potatoes Russian accent. It’s not one of the worst we’ve ever heard, but Hardy seems to think the way to nail his secret police agent character here is to give himself a particularly bad head-cold and then muscle his way through a Dracula impression. That’ll be a nyet from us.
Alfie Solomons, Peaky Blinders
While binging Peaky Blinders on Netflix, we had to turn on subtitles to get a handle on Hardy’s mercurial, rum-loving Cockney gangster. There’s a bizarrely clipped, crisp quality to his frequent rambling that makes him menacing as hell, even when you’ve completely lost track of what he’s saying.
Max Rockatansky, Mad Max: Fury Road
As much as we love George Miller’s epic, heart-stopping update to his Road Warrior franchise, we’re a little confused by Hardy’s shapeshifting accent across the film. He’s most often sporting a sun-scorched Australian rasp, but there are hints of South African, English, American, and just straight-up spaceman peppered in. One has to assume Hardy wasn’t trying to do a straight Aussie accent for the post-apocalyptic blockbuster, but what he was going for is plainly anyone’s guess (including his).
James Delaney, Taboo
This FX drama may turn out to be the most magnificent showcase for Hardy’s ridiculous accent roulette, which makes sense given that he helped to create and write the period piece. The number of influences he’s stated were at play in depicting his back-from-the-dead English explorer — among them Marlow from Heart of Darkness, Sherlock Holmes, Jack the Ripper, and Oliver Twist’s Sikes — don’t congeal so much as they exist in constant tension, meaning one of the most suspenseful parts of the show is guessing what Hardy will sound like from scene to scene. Never fear: When he runs out of voices to adopt, Hardy’s always got a good grunt in the chamber.
John Fitzgerald, The Revenant
Hardy has said he for some reason based his treacherous fur trapper on Tom Berenger in Platoon, but that doesn’t explain why his surreal acid-trip of an accent in The Revenant sounds like lovechild of a heart-of-Dixie plantation owner, the town drunk, and a Philly electrician. Just listen to him here, doing his best Michael-from-Hot Fuzz impression. The bear likely made for more coherent conversation on set.
Bane, The Dark Knight Rises
2012 was a simpler time, when “Call Me Maybe” sat at No. 1 on the charts, people fretted over an incipient Mayan doomsday prophecy, and we all believed that Hardy slipping into an unintelligible garble was something of a rarity, to be reserved for intentionally cartoonish figures like his looming Batman villain.
Bane may have been born in the darkness, but Hardy’s British-dandy-by-way-of-Latin-America accent — what little of it can be made out from under his pitbull-muzzle of a mask, that is — owed a little to Sean Connery, a lot to bare-knuckle boxing champ Bartley Gorman, and something more to a crime-solving Great Dane named Scooby-Doo. Given that he was raised in an underground prison, the fact he sounds eerily like a dark-universe Jar-Jar Binks is all the more disturbing. Will Hardy ever top the now-iconic lunacy of his Bane voice? Who’s to say? But if this list is any indication, he’s not about to give up anytime soon.