The 'Inception' actor is now enjoying mainstream success after a series of gritty roles.
Edward Thomas Hardy was born on 15 September 1977 in Hammersmith, London. He is the only child of writer Edward and artist mother Anne. He studied at Richmond Drama School and the Drama Centre London.
His first acting role was in the highly-acclaimed WWII HBO drama 'Band Of Brothers' (2001), in which he appeared in the final two episodes. Hardy played a soldier once again in Ridley Scott's 'Black Hawk Down' the same year. This was followed by his first lead role in a film portraying the villain in 'Star Trek: Nemesis' in 2002.
During his teens and early 20s, Hardy battled with delinquency, alcoholism and drug addiction, which often led to him waking up with no memory of what he had done the night before. In 2003, he entered rehab and has been sober ever since.
Hardy has blamed his drug habit for the breakdown of his five year marriage to Sarah Ward, whom he divorced in 2004. After rehab, Hardy returned to acting in the theatre. He was awarded the Evening Standard Most Promising Newcomer award for his roles in 'Blood', 'In Arabia' and 'We'd Be Kings'.
His next role was as Robert Dudley, earl of Leicester in the BBC historical drama 'The Virgin Queen' in 2005, followed by the gritty part of Bill Sykes in the 2007 adaption of 'Oliver Twist'.
In 2006, Hardy established the underground theatre company 'Shotgun' with director Robert Delamare, and directed a play called 'Blue On Blue', which was penned by Hardy's father. He went on to receive a Best Actor Bafta nomination in 2007 for his role as Stuart Shorter in 'Stuart: a Life Backwards' based on Alexander Masters' bestselling biography.
Hardy then played gay hoodlum Handsome Bob in Guy Ritchie's 2008 film 'RocknRolla' before having to bulk up for the role of Britain's most violent prisoner Charles Bronson in 'Bronson' the same year. For this role, he won a British Independent Film Award for Best Actor.
He also had his first child Louis with his then-girlfriend Rachael Speed in 2008. In 2009, he was named as one of Variety's 'ten actors to watch' before making his return to TV. Hardy took on a violent role in 'The Take', which was based on a Martina Cole novel. He then played Heathcliffe in 'Wuthering Heights', with his now-fiance Charlotte Riley playing Kathy.
In 2010, he was named as an ambassador of the Prince's Trust to help disadvantaged youths and he continues to help vulnerable people write and stage their own plays through 'Shotgun'. Hardy was then thrust into mainstream success thanks to his role as Eames in Christopher Nolan's hit film 'Inception' the same year.
His role stood out and helped him become one of the most exciting and in-demand actors in Hollywood. This reputation was cemented even further with the release of 'Batman: Dark Knight Rises' in July 2012 as he played the villain Bane. He also signed up to play Max in the remake of 'Mad Max', out in 2015, as well as both the Kray Twins in 'Legend' (2015).