In the fictional city of Gotham, there are many notorious villains. There’s the maniacal clown, The Joker, the sinister Riddler, the crime mob boss nicknamed The Penguin, and even the menace known as Balloon Man, who is actually a bit scarier than he sounds. All these villains fight Batman, our caped crusader, at some point or another, and while most are beaten, some do a fair amount of beating themselves. Like the steroid-induced Bane, also lovingly referred to as Gotham’s reckoning in The Dark Knight Rises. Throughout the years, Batman and his nemeses have been depicted in countless television series and movies, as outlined by Fiction Horizon, all with their own pairing of actors that take on grueling activities to become these iconic figures.
One of the most noteworthy is Tom Hardy’s Bane in The Dark Knight Rises. Known for his collaborations with director Christopher Nolan on Inception and portraying the anti-hero Marvel villain Eddie Brock (also known as Venom), Hardy has had his fair share of bodily transformations when preparing for a role. He plays the almost sickly host for the symbiote Venom, the family man Ivan Locke in Locke, and the smart-mouthed Eames from Inception. His transformation into Bane, however, is arguably his biggest and best yet. So, how did Hardy turn into the inhumanly muscular Batman villain, Bane?
Hitting the Gym
When cast, Hardy was definitely smaller than the size of the comic book-drawn Bane, so the first organic step to get him to look like the DC character was to hit the gym. Indeed, Hardy started off by going to the gym three times a day. In an interview with BBC Radio 1, Hardy said that whilst exercising, he also “ate lots of pizza.” Unlike some stories of the past, of actors going through grueling diets or only eating certain foods a day, the actor wanted to bulk up in the quickest way possible and did not limit his calorie intake or went on a diet. Over the course of pre-production, Hardy gaining 30 pounds of mass, but also focused on building out his upper half, doing a routine known as the matrix and the ladder routines.
Finding the Voice
More than just looking the part, Hardy had to step into Bane’s massive shoes and make the character his own. He created the voice for Bane, which may be one of the most iconic parts of this portrayal. With infamous lines like “I am Gotham’s Reckoning,” and “You think darkness is your ally, but you merely adopted it. I was born in it, molded by it,” The Dark Knight Rises gave fans things to say as they tried to emulate the deep rasp that Hardy created. But how did this voice come to be? Because it almost didn’t.
When shooting the movie, Hardy spoke all of his lines like any other actor would, wearing a mic on set. He also wore the classic mask, which in the comics serves as the way Bane inhales the vapor that gives him super strength. However, the movie mask proved to be a bit of a stumbling block in the end. When the movie was screened to a test audience, viewers said that it was very hard to hear what Hardy was saying throughout the movie, due to the mask and the thick accent he had crafted for the character. Before premiering the movie, per IndieWire, Hardy went back and re-dubbed his lines using a film technique called ADR (Automated Dialogue Replacement) and the editors where able to get a cleaner, crisper dialogue track that gave Bane’s lines that much more edge. Hardy also based the accent, which is so different to his own, on an English boxer named Bartley Gorman. He emulated the tonal quality in the boxer’s voice and matched it with his own, giving us the deep, threatening growl of the backbreaking Bane.
The Aftermath of Becoming Bane
All of this did not come without cost, though. Hardy’s intense muscle gain over a short period of time hurt his joints and was very unhealthy for his heart. Another issue the actor ran into is something a lot of actors have talked about with gaining weight or muscle for their roles: after you’ve worked out and trained, once the camera start rolling, it is hard to continue to keep working out. The intense difference from being active multiple times a day to only focusing on acting gives strain to the muscles. Hardy committed fully to making this character as close to the comics as he could, while leaving room for his own twists and turns, but no matter how much you want to look like him, it is not a regiment to follow. Hardy stated he enjoyed being able to play such an epic role in The Dark Knight Rises, and poured himself into the character, truly making it one of the most iconic Batman villains of the big screen.