Handsome Devil

10.30.2008

By Jason Lamphier

The day he watched Madonna jab a needle into Gerard Butler's bare ass, Tom Hardy realized the pop legend meant business. The 31-year-old British actor had been sitting on the side of the road in a Range Rover, preparing for a scene with Butler for Guy Ritchie's new gangster tale, RocknRolla, when Madonna showed up to administer an injection of vitamin B12 to the 300 star, who was ill at the time. 'It was her basically saying, 'Gerard, I don't want you fucking up my husband's film,' ' Hardy says, chuckling. 'There she is in the back of the car, slipping in from the roof, and appearing like the Terminator -- the fucking Madonna.'

Despite her interruption (Madonna does not appear in the film), Hardy was able to pull himself together for the scene, a key moment in RocknRolla when his character, Handsome Bob, confesses to his close friend One Two (Butler) that he is in love with him. It's a rather awkward exchange. Though the rest of their crooked clan suspects Handsome Bob is gay, One Two is shocked. The tension between the two sticks around for the remainder of the film, a nice homoerotic touch from Ritchie, known for his violent, testosterone-fueled capers. According to Hardy, Handsome Bob is based on an actual gay gangster. 'But the real guy sounded a lot tougher than Handsome Bob,' he explains. 'Bob is the getaway driver -- a lad, as opposed to a mobster or killer. He's just one of the boys.'

Hardy, whose wide-ranging performances have earned him comparisons to Ewan McGregor, can certainly relate to Handsome Bob's delinquent tendencies. The heavily tattooed former model and recovering drug addict says he was 'a profound reprobate' from an early age. (As a teen he was pulled over in a stolen Mercedes with a firearm in his possession.) But Hardy -- who also had roles in Marie Antoinette and Black Hawk Down and starred as Capt. Jean-Luc Picard's evil clone in 2002's Star Trek: Nemesis -- admits that men intimidate him. 'Masculine, butch groups of blokes together -- it's never really been my cup of tea. Playing a gay man in a Guy Ritchie movie is a finger up to that whole attitude of men talking about men doing men's things, which is so fucking narrow-minded. Handsome Bob is what a man should be -- except for the part of him taking a crowbar to the back of someone's head.'

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