Hollywood star Tom Hardy is a cast member of Peaky Blinders, the hit BBC2 drama set among Birmingham gangsters.
He plays Londoner Alfie Solomons in the series, the fourth series which is eagerly awaited.
Tom also stars in the BBC1 drama Taboo, which is written by Peaky Blinders creator and Brummie Steven Knight.
He’s also shown his softer side by reading bedtime stories on CBeebies.
Here’s 12 things you may not know about Tom Hardy
1. WHO HE IS AND WHERE HE’S FROM:
He was born Edward Thomas Hardy on September 15, 1977, in the Hammersmith borough of London, and was brought up in the East Sheen area of the city.
2. THE LIFE HE NEVER HAD:
Tom was expected to follow a high-brow academic career but veered off that path to end up where he is today.
He once said: “I went to public school where I learned Latin at the age of nine, and certain expectations were made of me to go to St Paul’s, Oxbridge maybe, and all that kind of thing. And I failed systematically to meet the mark – who I am and what I should have been are two very different things. One moment in Wandsworth Police Station on the way to Wormwood Scrubs, looking at 14 years, to this!”
3. HIS TIME AS A SUPERMODEL:
Tom won the Big Breakfast’s Find Me a Supermodel competition at the age of 21, and part of the prize was a contract with agency Models One.
4. THE BATTLE WITH DRINK AND DRUGS:
He spent his teens and early 20s battling delinquency, alcoholism and addiction to crack cocaine. He blamed his drug problems for the collapse of his five-year marriage to Sarah Ward and finally sought treatment after completing work on Star Trek: Nemesis in 2002.
He said: “I went entirely off the rails and I’m lucky I didn’t have some terrible accident or end up in prison or dead, because that’s where I was going. Now I know my beast and I know how to manage it. It’s like living with a 400lb orangutan that wants to kill me. It’s much more powerful than me, doesn’t speak the same language and it runs around the darkness of my soul.
“In a blackout I could end up anywhere, I might wake up somewhere on the other side of London, or in another country or in bed with someone I didn’t know, not knowing how I got there. Bleeding. This was on a daily basis and I was going to work, I didn’t want to appear rock ‘n’ roll, I didn’t want anyone to know I was out of control, but I couldn’t hide it. Eventually, the body gives up, my body told me – I was completely kaput, I was lucky I didn’t get hepatitis or AIDS.”
5. HIS RELATIONSHIPS AND SON:
He was married to Sarah Ward from 1999 to 2004. Rachael Speed was his girlfriend from 2004 to 2009, and in 2010 he became engaged to English actress Charlotte Riley, his co-star in Wuthering Heights. The couple reportedly tied the knot in a secret ceremony in France a couple of months ago. Hardy and Rachael Speed have a son, Louis, born on April 8, 2008.
6. WHEN HE FIRST APPEARED ON SCREEN:
Tom made his screen debut in the Second World War television miniseries Band of Brothers in 2001, playing Private John Janovec in two episodes. After he was cast in the role, he dropped out of his studies at Drama Centre London.
7. THE AWARDS HE HAS ALREADY WON:
He has won three awards and been nominated 21 times. He won Best Actor (for Bronson) at the British Independent Film Awards in 2009, Bafta’s Rising Star Award in 2011, and shared the Best Ensemble trophy (for Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy) awarded by the Central Ohio Film Critics Association in 2012.
8. HOW HE CAME TO THE ATTENTION OF HOLLYWOOD:
His role in Bronson drew attention from Hollywood’s big studios, with trade magazine Variety including him in 2009 on its list of Top 10 Actors To Watch. He was subsequently cast in Christopher Nolan’s Inception and The Dark Knight Rises, but it transpired that Nolan hadn’t even seen Bronson but liked Tom’s performance in Guy Ritchie’s RocknRolla as a gay gangster called Handsome Bob.
9. HIS WILD AND ‘EXPERIMENTAL’ PAST:
Hardy admitted that in the past he had experimented with all kinds of sexual relationships, telling Attitude magazine: “I’m an actor, I’ve played with anything and anyone. But I’m not into men sexually. It just doesn’t compute to me now that I’m in my 30s and I’m done experimenting.”
10. HIS HATE OF CELEBRITY CULTURE:
He is not very keen on the current obsession with celebrity culture. He said: “I want to dispel that it’s all about celebrity-ism, I’m f***ing bored of people looking at whose shoes are interesting and what hat is interesting.”
Instead he wants to connect with people through his work as an actor: “Storytelling is very important to people, it comforts them, unite us, cheers us up, we can affect change with these arts. We need to be entertained to connect.”
11. THE WORK HE DOES FOR CHARITY:
Hardy is the patron for the Cambridge homeless charity Flack and an ambassador for The Prince’s Trust youth charity.
12. HIS NEXT MUST-WATCH BIG-SCREEN ROLE:
Is Dunkirk, retelling the fierce Second World War battle. Hardy plays a fighter pilot in the Christopher Nolan film, released in July, in which he is reunited with Cillian Murphy along with Mark Rylance, Harry Styles and Kenneth Branagh.