Hardy's built up an impressive body of work since his breakthrough in Nicolas Winding Refn's 2008 biopic Bronson, balancing memorable blockbuster turns with nuanced character work in smaller-scale projects.
Digital Spy takes a look back over Hardy's five finest performances.
1. Stuart: A Life Backwards (2007)
David Attwood's powerful BBC/HBO co-production told the true story of the friendship between Stuart Shorter (Hardy), an unstable young homeless man, and author Alexander Masters (Benedict Cumberbatch), which developed as Masters was penning a biography of Shorter's life. Both leading men turn in subtly heartbreaking performances, and Hardy walks a poignant line between vicious and vulnerable, portraying Stuart as simultaneously a gentle giant and a profoundly damaged soul. The role deservedly won him his first BAFTA nomination.
2. Bronson (2008)
Drive helmer Nicolas Winding Refn cast Hardy in the lead role of Michael Gordon Peterson, aka Charles Bronson, in his visceral fictionalised biography of "the most violent prisoner in Britain". Born into a middle-class family, Peterson was imprisoned at the age of 22 for for armed robbery, and ultimately spent most of his time in solitary confinement thanks to his penchant for attacking fellow inmates. Hardy's utter lack of vanity couldn't have served him better here, as he throws himself with wholehearted ferocity into Bronson's warped psychosis.
3. Inception (2010)
Christoper Nolan's vast, visually daring exploration of the human psyche might have been a thematic follow-on from his more intimate 2000 drama Memento, but its grand scale made for a cast of generally thin characters. It's Hardy's wry, effete identity forger Eames who steals the show, striking up a sparky dynamic with Joseph Gordon-Levitt's underdeveloped Arthur and creating the frequently po-faced Inception's most lively and memorable character.
4. Warrior (2011)
There's no shortage of strong turns in Gavin O'Connor's steely tale of two psychologically damaged brothers who end up competing in a mixed martial arts tournament - Nick Nolte gives his best performance in years as their estranged dad - but Hardy's wounded, tightly-wound Tommy stands out nonetheless. Though the script occasionally tries a notch too hard to inject heartstring-tugging drama, his dynamic with Joel Edgerton keeps this firmly tethered in emotional reality.
5. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2012)
Some of the most crucial scenes in Tomas Alfredson's assured adaptation of the John le Carré novel centre on Hardy, as he takes on the role of tearaway intelligence agent Ricki Tarr, who discovers a high-ranking mole inside the Secret Service. His first confrontation with his incensed superior Peter Guillam and inscrutable senior agent George Smiley (played by Stuart co-star Cumberbatch and future Lawless co-star Gary Oldman respectively) is a charged, emotive highlight in a masterfully-calibrated spy thriller.
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Watch Digital Spy interview Hardy and his The Dark Knight Rises co-stars below: