Tom Hardy Based Bane's Voice In The Dark Knight Rises On A Real-Life Legend

For all his success on both sides of the Atlantic, Tom Hardy is one of Britain's most enigmatic actors. He has the star power to headline major Hollywood motion pictures, but largely refuses to become pigeon-holed, just as likely to lend his charisma to a children's bedtime story as he is a guy inhabited by a vicious alien symbiote. His best roles tend to be brooding outsiders, and he has notably hidden that handsome face behind a mask in some of his most high-profile films. He also likes tinkering with accents, with very mixed results. From wonky Welsh in "Locke" to a wandering Baltimore brogue in "The Revenant," Hardy seems to go for the vibe of a dialect rather than note-perfect elocution. 

The masked man and the accent thing combined most famously in "The Dark Knight Rises," where Hardy bulked out the shoulders of hulking supervillain Bane. Not only did the actor spend most of the film with his face obscured by the character's menacing ventilator, but he also opted for an accent that was... Well, what was that, exactly? Yet one thing we can definitely say about Hardy is that when he makes an acting choice, he really runs with it. He takes preparing for a role very seriously, whether it is beefing up to play a Batman archenemy or hanging out with the "most violent prisoner in Britain" to get in character for "Bronson." When it came to working out that accent for Bane, Hardy had a very unusual person in mind.

Who inspired Tom Hardy's Bane?

During a conversation with Andy Serkis, Hardy discussed one of the internet's most frequently asked questions about himself: How did Tom Hardy do the Bane voice? He explained:

"Bane quintessentially is Latinx... of origin, and I'm not. So I looked at the concept of Latin and found a character, a gentleman, a man called Bartley Gorman, who's a Romani gypsy, the King of the Gypsies, in inverted commas, a bare-knuckle fighter..."

Coming from a long line of fighters, Gorman was also a distant relative of world heavyweight champ Tyson Fury. His career was far less glitzy; Gorman started fighting at the age of 10 and was duty-bound by Traveller tradition to take on any challengers, slugging it out with other hardmen in quarries, campsites, pubs, and even down a mineshaft. He remained undefeated until his retirement over 40 years later and claimed he never fought a regular bloke because he could kill them with one punch. Famous opponents included "The Guv'nor" Lenny McLean, the unlicensed brawler and underworld enforcer who made a memorable impression as Barry the Baptist in "Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels," and he sparred with Muhammad Ali when the boxing legend visited Birmingham in 1983.

With this kind of background, it's easy to see why Hardy was drawn to Gorman; he seems to gravitate toward tough nuts who have become part of modern-day British folklore through their exploits. Having already played the notorious prisoner Charles Bronson and the Kray Twins in "Legend," Hardy channeled yet another larger-than-life rogue into his characterization of Bane.

Does Bane sound like Bartley Gorman?

You can check out this short documentary and judge for yourself if Hardy sounds like the real Gorman. My first reaction was that Hardy is way off because there is a clear difference between Gorman's Midlands accent and Bane's muffled tones. Listening again, I think Hardy is going more for Gorman's cadence and grandiose way of talking rather than a simple imitation. In his chat with Serkis, he continued:

"I showed Chris [Nolan] and said: 'We can either go down a Darth Vader kind of route, straight, neutral-toned villain voice, or we could try this... we've got to consider the roots and origins of Bane, but we could get laughed out of the park, it might be something we regret. But it's your choice ultimately.' He goes, 'No, I think we'll go with it.' And that was that. We played with it and made it a bit more florid, and now people laugh at it!"

It's nicely self-deprecating of Hardy to acknowledge the amusement that Bane's voice has given to many people. However, linguist Eric Singer points out that while Hardy's accents might not always be spot on, they are fully realized (via The Hollywood Reporter):

"I'm really impressed by the way he plays with intonation — the music of an accent. I think it's something he hears really keenly and, I suspect, sinks his teeth into first, whether he's working from a real-life source or working more from imagination and pastiche."

Ever an actor who likes to take risks, using Gorman as inspiration for his take on a stalwart DC Comics supervillain was a typically idiosyncratic touch from Hardy. Love him or hate him, Bane was probably the most memorable thing about "The Dark Knight Rises," even if his voice made him one of the 21st Century's most spoofed characters.