It all started with a conversation with his father, Edward.
Tom Hardy finished portraying Bill Sykes in Oliver Twist, a role which let him riveted.
“I told him wouldn’t be great if there was a guy like Bill Sykes who is like a villain, but put in a gentleman’s body. But we’d create a hero in him in a classic period drama. And he would traverse class and the underworld. And we’d put some Marlow in it from The Heart of Darkness and a little Jack the Ripper.”
“‘That’s an awful lot of people’, said my father, ‘Can you close the door and let me get back to my novel.'” recalls Hardy.
A year later, Hardy’s father presented his son with a treatment for Taboo, centered around a guy who Hardy says is “a blistering pig.” The FX-BBC show which airs Tuesdays at 10 through Feb. 28 follows Hardy as once thought-dead and now-scarred James Keziah Delaney who returns to London from abroad in 1814 to take over his deceased father’s shipping business. Part of the inheritance comes with a strategic piece of land called Nootka Sound that everyone covets and Delaney refuses to give up as he locks horns with Britain’s East India Company.
“My father and I then begged Steven Knight to write our story,” says Hardy. Knight made a trade with Hardy: He’d do Taboo if Hardy would do his show Peaky Blinders (which the Oscar-nominated actor did playing barber/gangster Alfie Solomons.
“When Tom Hardy says he has an idea, of course you want to do it. It means he wants to be in it” says Knight.
Set in 1814, Knight says that Taboo is set at a time when “The Victorian morality wasn’t there yet. We wanted to show the mud and the blood, but not shock people….It was a time when people extricated themselves from their trades, from their religions and from their class.”
Hardy adds that Taboo is part of “a mythology”. Ultimately, his character Delaney will become a part of “a band of miscreants”, “a mercurial, molecular family” who ultimately make-up the story of America. Knight told Deadline’s Dominic Patten that the plan is to break three seasons of Taboo.
Given how The Mad Max thespian has been working on both sides of the camera as an EP both on Taboo, and 2015’s Legend, does Hardy plan to direct soon, even an episode?
“Oh, no, not yet,” says Hardy, “I’d like to apprentice.”
“He’d be a nighmare,” joked actor David Hayman who plays Brace on Taboo.
Adds Michael Kelly who plays Dumbarton, “”Our days would be a little longer due to the deep discussions.”