A Chat With Tom Hardy: Is His ‘Taboo’ Killer a True Shaman or ‘Just F***ing Mad’?
Tom Hardy offers a peek inside the mind of James Delaney, a man both "irredeemable" and ever-changing.
By Ben Travers ~Feb 16, 2017
Hearing Tom Hardy speak about James Delaney doesn’t feel that far removed from watching the Oscar-nominated actor play the enigmatic lead of FX’s drama.
“He’s silent on the outside because inside, he’s got a very, very busy head, which is kind of terrifying for him in some aspects,” Hardy recently told IndieWire at Pasadena’s Langham Huntington Hotel. “And [his thoughts are] unprocessed. He’s kind of figuring it out.”
Hardy, who created “Taboo” with Chips Hardy (his father) and Steven Knight, is doing the same. The thoughts in his head are being forced out, and processing them is half the fun.
Hardy knows the character inside and out, but there are so many elements thrown into the mix — Hardy cites Bill Sikes from “Oliver Twist,” Marlow from Joseph Conrad’s “Heart of Darkness,” Hannibal Lecter, “an irascible kind of Duke” and “maybe even a werwolf!” in his ever-growing description of James Delaney — it’s easy for him to spark to an idea he just had and shift the conversation down that path. Yet he always returns to two conflicting perceptions of the man made of many men.
"My interest with James Delaney was the difference between, ‘Is he shamanistic and truly has the third eye — the ability to see what’s happening? Or is he so damaged from trauma that his processing is literally the affectation and a symptom of traumatic experience, i.e. post traumatic stress disorder?”
It’s a good question. “Taboo” is chock full of inexplicable occurrences, and Hardy’s character is at the center of all of them. During the first six episodes — an intense, compelling adventure Hardy balks at labeling a “revenge story” — the actor was tasked with building Delaney through mysterious, intimidating, and confounding exchanges like these:
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