For many of Hardy's fans, it's been an inexplicable career choice, and at long last, director Christopher Nolan is shedding some light on why the actor always seems to have his face concealed or obscured.
In Nolan's new World War II film, Dunkirk, Hardy plays a Royal Air Force pilot whose face is hidden behind an air mask for essentially the entire film, and before that, he starred as the masked terrorist Bane in Nolan's Dark Knight Rises.
According to Nolan, the decision to hide half of Hardy's face in Dunkirk was inspired by the actor's masterful performance as Bane in the last installment of his Batman trilogy.
"I was pretty thrilled with what he did in The Dark Knight Rises with two eyes and couple of eyebrows and a bit of forehead," the Inception director told the Press Association. "So I thought, 'Let’s see what he can do with no forehead, no real eyebrows, maybe one eye.'"
The experiment only solidified in Nolan's mind what a unique talent Hardy is. The director marveled, "Of course Tom, being Tom, what he does with single eye acting is far beyond what anyone else can do with their whole body, that is just the unique talent of the man, he’s extraordinary."
"When I cast Heath Ledger as the Joker [in The Dark Knight], it raised a lot of eyebrows and caused a lot of comment," he said. "I have to trust my instincts, and Harry was perfect for this part." Check out the video below to hear more.