Article in Empire magazine, September 2014 issue.
KRAY KRAY - Tom Hardy is Reggie and Ronnie in Legend
How do you follow Max? If you’re Tom Hardy, you do so by getting your teeth into the infamous British gangster wins, Ronnie and Reggie Kray, in Brian Helgeland’s Legend.
“When Brian was writing it we joked ‘Wouldn’t it be great if Hardy was both of them?’” says Tim Bevan, Working Title co-chief and the movie’s producer. But that nagging thought remained, so they sent the script to Hardy’s agent, and quickly lined up a meeting. “Brian and I went to have dinner with him and he said, ‘I’ll do this… but I wanna play both of them.’ Who were we to say no?”
The last time the Krays, whose reign of terror gripped London’s East End in the ’50s and, mostly, ’60s (“For me, it’s the dark side of the ’60s,” adds Bevan), were seen on the big screen was back in 1990, in Peter Medak’s biopic. Then, the twins were played by actual brothers, Gary and Martin Kemp of Spandau Ballet. Hardy, of course, has never had a number one single, but Bevan wasn’t put off by the fact that he “wasn’t a pop singer? No! He’s the man at the moment, isn’t he? What’s great with a great British actor is to find a great British role for him.”
Or roles, in this case. The two Krays, one Hardy effect is being achieved by the usual mix of “stand-ins, doubles, face replacements, every trick in the book, basically”, but Bevan insists the real magic will come from Hardy himself. “Loosely, Tom’s treating Ronnie as a great character role and Reggie as a leading man,” explains the producer. “Reggie would be an old-fashioned Steve McQueen type, and Ronnie was the guy who was on pills and wasn’t so mentally stable — not that either of them were! But he’s found very definitive looks and characters for them both — that’s what’s going to stun the audience.”
As is the overall approach. In a world full of Danny Dyer geezerfests, Bevan says that Legend — inspired by John Pearson’s books about the terrible twosome — will take its cue from across the Pond. “The intent is to make an American-style gangster movie here, based on their story,” he says. “The reference points, rather than anything British, are Scorsese and Coppola. And Brian has found a way into the material where you’re making a film about villains, who are infamously unpleasant, but in a way where it’s palatable.”
LEGEND IS OUT IN 2015.
+ edited still (ph. Greg Williams)