Becoming Bane For The Dark Knight Rises Took Its Toll On Tom Hardy

Tom Hardy is no stranger to putting his body through workout hell in order to bulk up for a role. His performances in "Warrior" and "Bronson" are testaments to that, as they are to his ability to wield the physicality in mesmerizing ways in action scenes. It's one of the reasons why his portrayal of Batman's nemesis Bane in "The Dark Knight Rises" is both menacing and magnetic — not to mention the carefully crafted voice Hardy created for the part.

Hardy forced his body into a demanding transformation to play the typically jacked-up villain with massive arms. While following a brutal exercise routine to put on as much muscle as possible, he also ate as much as he could to put on the weight necessary to make him look larger than costar Christian Bale, who is actually taller than Hardy. Luckily Christopher Nolan and the crew behind "The Dark Knight Rises" had plenty of movie tricks up their sleeves to maintain the illusion of Bane's size and look.

Hardy was never as big as Bane looked onscreen

While answering on BBC Radio 1, Tom Hardy received a question about his role as Bane, which he used to highlight how he actually was nowhere as big as he looked in the film. "Well I was actually, if we look closely, if we really study the photographs, I was really overweight actually," the actor conceded in a segment titled "Kids Ask Tom Hardy Difficult Questions." "I ate a lot and, you know, I was not much heavier than I am now, but I just ate more pizza on top of it and then they shoot from low to make you look big."

So pizza, not some green liquid venom, is apparently the source of power for Nolan's Bane. The difference was so drastic that people who recognized Hardy would immediately point out that they thought he'd be bigger given his character's size. "Nah, man," he'd reply, "I was just bald and slightly porky with pencil arms." But with three to four months of training — a period in which Hardy gained a staggering 30 pounds of muscle — and some clever lighting, he was able to pull it off. Though that doesn't change that the crucible of unhealthy eating habits and exercise took a major toll on the actor.

Hardy struggled with the unhealthiness of his Bane diet

Tom Hardy admitted that all the pizza wasn't exactly great for his health or his heart. So it's not surprising that the actor struggled with having to maintain such exhausting eating habits while also trying to act. After all, as Hardy himself points out in the BBC Radio 1 interview, his feeling good wasn't exactly the point.

"The point is to look as big as possible. I wore two or three pairs of trousers as well, because I have really skinny legs and my good friend, Jacob Tomuri, who's my stunt man, likes to say, 'Why did Tom come in riding an emu?'" I suppose you can afford to always skip leg day if you're wearing that many pairs of pants. It does make sense that Hardy would prioritize getting his upper body as big as possible since the lighting in the film draws attention away from his lower half to accentuate his chest and arms.

And to be fair, when Bane is demolishing whoever gets in his way or terrifying Gotham's elite with that now-iconic voice, you're not exactly looking at the guy's legs — except maybe when he's breaking Batman's back on them.

The lasting effects Bane-like transformations have on Hardy's body

Tom Hardy was just 33 years old during the filming of "The Dark Knight Rises." Since then the actor has by no means slowed down on taking physically challenging roles and productions, from "Mad Max: Fury Road" to "The Revenant." But he also knows he can't ignore the increasing havoc it wreaks on his body. Hardy told The Daily Beast:

"I think you pay the price with any drastic physical changes. It was alright when I was younger, to put myself under that kind of duress, but I think as you get into your 40s you have to be more mindful of the rapid training, packing on a lot of weight and getting physical, and then not having enough time to keep training because you're busy filming, so your body is swimming in two different directions at the same time. And then after the film I'm tired, and you maybe have to change your shape again and go back to your normal size for the next film. To go from one extreme to another has a cost. I haven't damaged my body, but I'm certainly a bit achier than I used to be!"

"I kind of miss it," Hardy said. While the transformations he's put his body through in the course of his career might be milder compared to, say, someone like Christian Bale, that doesn't mean the scars aren't there. Hardy said he has "joints that click that probably shouldn't click," which just goes to show you that stunt work isn't the only way actors can damage their bodies.