Tom Hardy doesn’t necessarily strike you as an actor who would care all that much what the critics think.
Then again, most of the 44-year-old British performer’s movies have been critically acclaimed, from Inception (2010) to Warrior (2011) to The Dark Knight Rises (2012) to Mad Max: Fury Road (2015) to The Revenant (2015) to Dunkirk (2017).
So the bile spewed on his 2018 comic-book antihero outing Venom may have been a shock to his system.
“You go, ‘Why don’t they like you?’” Hardy laughed during a recent virtual interview with Yahoo Entertainment (watch above). "'What could you do better? Where do you think you failed? Where do you think you could’ve operated better in that situation?’"
“In many ways, the critics, they didn't like us. But the people that watched it, they were like, ‘Well, actually, we kind of like it.'”
And they turned up droves. Venom — starring Hardy as reporter Eddie Brock, who develops superpowers after an alien symbiote invades his body — became a massive box office hit for Sony’s Marvel Universe, chewing up $856 million worldwide. And even many critics who blasted the movie lauded Hardy’s bravura performance and dedication to some of the film’s infamously over-the-top moments (lobster tank, anyone?).
Hardy shares story credit on the new sequel, Venom: Let There Be Carnage and says he took both critics’ and fans’ reactions to heart in helping shape the story — in which Brock goes toe to toe with Woody Harrelson’s serial killer-turned-symbiote host Carnage — with screenwriter Kelly Marcel.
“We're like, ‘OK, well, what did they kind of like?’ And I collected those chips, harmonized that, put it in the think tank, and then we went to draft and it became a collaboration of decisions.”
Harrelson, who appeared briefly in a Venom midcredits scene introducing his character, was also critical of his previous performance.
“I wasn’t thrilled with what I did, I thought I should’ve done a better job in that one scene with Tom,” Harrelson told us. “I definitely wanted to do something more interesting in the second one.”
Harrelson was thrilled to work with Hardy, calling him the “new Marlon Brando.” He was not alone.
“He’s such a phenomenal actor,” says Naomie Harris, who plays Harrelson’s love interest, Shriek.
“Tom’s process is extraordinary to watch,” agrees Andy Serkis, the famed motion-capture actor-turned-filmmaker who directed Let There Be Carnage.
Hardy also confirmed something anyone who has seen Venom or its new sequel could probably guess: He’s having a really good time making these movies.
“I think as far as fun goes, a hundred percent; that is [some] of the most fun I've ever had in my life,” he says. “As far as responsibility goes, and pressure, it's up there, too, because you don't want to go wrong, you want to get it right. You want to present the best you possibly can and do right for the audience and the fans, and deliver something that's really good. So you can beat yourself up a bit trying to get that. But who knows? It's all subjective anyway. But I'm really proud of the team. I think the movie looks epic. I think it's a stronger movie than the first, and I'm really proud of it.”
Venom: Let There Be Carnage is now playing.
Watch the trailer:
— Video produced by Olivia Schneider and edited by Jimmie Rhee