Don't ever try to put Tom Hardy on the spot.
The 38-year-old British star is explaining his headline-making exchange with a reporter at a Toronto Film Festival panel last Saturday, when he was asked to comment on his reported "ambiguous" sexuality. In his latest film, Legend, Hardy plays bisexual British gangsters, Ronnie and Reggie Kray, two of the most notorious criminals in British history.
"What on earth are you on about?" Hardy asked the reporter point-blank in the awkward moment. "I don't find it difficult for celebrities to talk about their sexuality. Are you asking about my sexuality? ... Why?"
Hardy now explains that he wasn’t so much bothered by the question itself, but the way in which it was asked.
"There should be elegant ways to approach any topic, and there’s a time and place to approach anything and have a good, common sense conversation about anything," he tells The Daily Beast. " ... If you knew me as a friend, then sure, we’d talk about anything. But that was a public forum, and for someone to inelegantly ask a question that seemed designed entirely to provoke a reaction, and start a topic of debate… It’s important destigmatizing sexuality and gender inequality in the workplace, but to put a man on the spot in a room full of people designed purely for a salacious reaction?"
"To be quite frank, it’s rude," he stresses. "If he'd have said that to me in the street, I’d have said the same thing back: 'I’m sorry, who the f**k are you?'"
The reporter, who works for Daily Xtra, a Toronto LGBT publication, cited a 2008 Attitude magazine interview in which Hardy refers to same-sex encounters in his past: "As a boy? Of course I have," Hardy said when asked if he ever had any sexual relations with men. "I'm an actor for *beep*'s sake. I'm an artist. I've played with everything and everyone. But I'm not into men sexually." At the time, he was promoting his role as a gay gangster in the Guy Ritchie film, RocknRolla.
The Mad Max: Fury Road actor admits he could have handled the question last Saturday with "more grace."
"I'm just a man. And I'm just a man doing a job," he says about his reaction. "I'm not a role model for anyone, and you’re asking me something about my private life in a room full of people. ... It's not about what he and his publication stands for, none of that is offensive, and on the contrary, it's very admirable, and an important issue. But how I was asked was incredibly inelegant, and I just thought it was disrespectful and counterproductive to what he stands for."
"I think everybody is entitled to the right to privacy," he adds. " ... I'm under no obligation to share anything to do with my family, my children, my sexuality -- that's nobody’s business but my own. And I don’t see how that can have anything to do with what I do as an actor, and it's my own business."
Hardy, who married actress Charlotte Riley last July, also says there's "nothing ambiguous" about his sexuality.
"I know who I am," he says bluntly.
Obviously, he's comfortable playing an openly gay man on screen. ET caught up with Hardy in April, when he talked about playing icon Elton John in the upcoming bio-pic Rocketman.
"The only daunting bit is can I walk in high heels? And I know I can. So, that's not a problem," he told ET. "But can I dance, I mean, like really, really dance in them? So I got to work on that."