12/7/08

What's Tom Hardy doing in Marie Antoinette?

The first time I saw him was as Shinzon, the evil Picard clone in Star Trek: Nemesis. With the veins popping out on his bald head, the crazy costume and his creepy agenda, he is a loathsome offensive brute, yet I couldn't look away. There was something about his quiet power, the smoldering intensity reminiscent of early Brando. "Who is this guy," I thought, "and what does he look like with hair?"

The answer to both questions came when I watched The Virgin Queen. As Robert Dudley, the childhood friend and love interest of Queen Elizabeth I, Tom Hardy is alternately charming and manipulative. Even though I knew Elizabeth never married, I found myself wondering how she could resist such a man. His portrayal leaves open for interpretation whether Dudley was more interested in Elizabeth for herself or for her power as queen. ("Cannot a man love both?" is his answer, which probably amounts to the truth.)

Now for my third Tom Hardy spotting and the reason for the title question of this post. Confession: I was much more interested in Marie Antoinette when I heard that Tom Hardy had a role in it. Though small, his few moments on screen as Raumont are charged with the strength of his presence. He appears in one short scene at a party where, after being thanked for providing the oysters, he plays along with a silly guessing game while the queen and Count Fersen make eyes at each other. In the following scene, Raumont expresses to the queen's friend his disapproval (and jealousy?) of Marie Antoinette's interest in the count. It goes a little something like this:

Raumont: "Our queen seems rather fond of looking at Count Fersen."

Queen's Friend: "Well, he's easy on the eyes."

R, after a piercing look in the count's direction: "Don't you think she favors him too clearly?"

QF: "Just because it is not you."

R: "Don't you think it unbecoming to our queen, I mean, he has quite the reputation."

QF: "He amuses her and she likes to be amused. There's nothing unregal in that, Monsieur."

The funny thing is, this exchange wouldn't have been entirely out of place in The Virgin Queen, as just these sorts of things could have been said about Elizabeth and Dudley. The lines feel a bit hypocritical, coming as they do from the man who played another queen's favorite. It is almost as if Robert Dudley has appeared in a new century with a new costume, still wanting to be as close as possible to whatever queen is at hand.

Given that this scene amounts to the meat of Tom Hardy's role in Marie Antoinette, it seems that he is in the movie specifically for a little inside joke. I don't know how many people saw both Marie Antoinette and The Virgin Queen and made the Tom Hardy connection, but I for one found this moment rather amusing due to the casting choice.

2 comments:

zebrasnake said...

You're going to love him in Masterpiece Theater's Wuthering Heights, coming next month to PBS. He's also in MP's Oliver Twist, which i think airs in February.

But seriously, you might enjoy some of his other performances, such as in Scenes of a Sexual Nature. check it out.

xo
zebrasnake

Wendymoon said...

Honestly, some of his other movies scare me a bit. (I'm not big on films with lots of sex & violence.) But I'm all for seeing him in more classic costume dramas, so I'll have to look for Wuthering Heights & Oliver Twist.

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