Oscar Nominee Tom Hardy Says Fatherhood Helped Him Overcome Addiction

By Paul Gaita 01/28/16

The British actor went from waking up in his own blood to being nominated for an Academy Award.

Tom Hardy

British actor Tom Hardy struggled with drug and alcohol addiction for years before he found one good reason to fight for sobriety: fatherhood.

The star of The Revenant and Mad Max: Fury Road said that the experience “definitely changed my life.” Hardy has been open about his addiction, which began during his teenage years. His crack cocaine and alcohol use contributed to his expulsion from boarding school and an arrest for car theft and gun possession at the age of 17.

Hardy turned to acting, initially to “make my father proud of me,” and studied at the Drama Centre London until he won the part of an American Army private in HBO’s Band of Brothers. As his career advanced through roles in Ridley Scott’s Black Hawk Down (2001) and Star Trek: Nemesis (2002), his addiction also ran unchecked until he woke up in a puddle of his own blood and vomit in the streets of SoHo in 2003.

With his first marriage to Sarah Ward in tatters (they divorced in 2004) and his life and career in the balance, Hardy committed to rehab and has remained sober since 2003.

Since then, his status in the acting world has blossomed to international recognition thanks to films like Inception (2010), The Dark Knight Rises (2012), and a 2016 Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor in The Revenant. He’s proud of the professional progress he’s made for the direction it’s given to his life. “I found that I was good at [acting], and I wanted to make the effort to invest time and effort into doing it,” he stated.

But he has drawn a deeper sense of purpose from fatherhood. His first child, son Louis Thomas, was born in 2008, and with his second wife, actress Charlotte Riley, he welcomed a second child in 2015. The experience has made a significant impact in how Hardy spends his days.

"Being a father has given me the kind of goal that makes you think more carefully about how you live your life,” he said. “That was when the penny dropped, that there was no longer very much time for me to think about myself anymore—about what I might like to do or who I want to be—because there is somebody now on the planet who really needs me to get my act together and focus on something that is more important than me.”

Hardy has also found time to give back to young people in need of guidance, as he once was, as an ambassador for the Prince’s Trust. “I wanted to give back in any way that I could to my community and Great Britain,” he said. “The Prince’s Trust is about helping young people up the line and out of situations where they’re struggling, and putting them in a much better place where they’re in a much better position to deal with what life throws at them.”

It’s a scenario he understands all-too-well. “I didn’t want anyone to know I was out of control," Hardy said. "But I couldn’t hide it.”

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Paul Gaita lives in Los Angeles. He has contributed to the Los Angeles Times, Variety, LA Weekly, Amazon.com and The Los Angeles Beat, among many other publications and websites.