Tom Hardy’s the boy for us in Venom: Let There Be Carnage, out in UAE now
‘There are incredible action sequences in this one’ says actor
Although the considerable physical, technical and creative challenges of playing not one but two extraordinary Marvel characters – one of them, let’s not forget an eight-foot badass alien with a voracious appetite and a devastating temper – are obvious, daunting and demanding, for Tom Hardy returning as Eddie Brock / Venom in a much anticipated sequel was mostly an opportunity to have fun. He simply loves playing both of them.
“It’s a joy to play two different parts of a psyche because Venom and Eddie are one for me, they are just differentiated by the fact that one is the monster and one is Eddie but they are always contained within one individual,” says Hardy.
“It’s entirely orchestrated by the script and the script has been created by a writer who has been in the driving seat from the get-go so it’s great fun and I just want to keep challenging it and pushing it and seeing what else I can do with it.”
It’s that sense of fun – coupled with spectacular effects, brilliantly choreographed action sequences and stand out performances including a tour-de-force from Hardy himself – that captured the hearts of audiences all over the world in 2018 when Venom became a massive box office hit.
And it’s that dedication to provide another episode of cinematic joy that drove Hardy and his collaborators, including director Andy Serkis and screenwriter Kelly Marcel, whilst making Venom: Let There Be Carnage.
“You know this was a federation of people, great talents, who came together to have a lot of fun with the second episode of a franchise that we hope will become much loved in the world of superhero and fantasy movies,” he says. “We’re really proud of it and we think, quietly, it’s better than the first. And I’m really looking forward to everyone seeing it on a big screen.”
Hardy is back, then, as the much-loved Marvel character Eddie Brock, an investigative reporter who was infected by an alien symbiote whilst working on a journalistic expose. Eddie has fused with the alien, Venom, and the two have to share the same body – and small apartment - often with hilarious and breathtakingly thrilling results.
Hardy and his long time creative collaborator, Kelly Marcel – they have worked closely together on various projects for more than a decade and Marcel was one of the writing team on Venom - came up with the idea for the story for Let There Be Carnage and Marcel wrote the screenplay.
Eddie wants a quiet life to concentrate on writing his book whilst Venom wants more action. Eddie wants to keep Venom a secret which isn’t easy when the unpredictable monster inside him can transform his body into a sinewy mass of tendrils and Velociraptor like teeth - a shape shifting beast that can leap up the side of buildings and fly through the air. Together, they are an unlikely but formidable, terrifying and deadly duo – a match for anyone, anything on Earth.
But they are inadvertently about to unleash an adversary in the form of serial killer Cletus Kasady – played by three-time Academy Award nominee Woody Harrelson – and his own symbiote, a ferocious alien killing machine known as Carnage, that will put them, and San Francisco, in mortal danger.
“There are incredible action sequences in this one,” says Hardy. “For me, this film is much more than the original. We’ve built on the first. We’ve developed this character and in this one we are pushing it story-wise, with plot, introduction of great new characters and mining the territory and investing in what we loved from the first film.
“And we’re adding to the thrill and spectacle elements with fantastic sequences that are completely different than anything we saw in the first. This is a new film, and a new world with new characters and new stakes.”
Hardy records the voice of Venom before each scene and when he’s playing Eddie he can interact, as Eddie, with the pre-recorded track thanks to the perfect timing and expertise of sound engineer Patrick Anderson.
“Yes, we’ll record the scene with me as Venom and we’ll choose the line lead that we like and then I’ll run the scene with a scene partner – the sound man, Patrick – who then has to get all the dialogue in order and then – and I’m not really quite sure how he does it but I imagine it’s like this – he presses the button on the cue of the line that I give him as Eddie.”
Hardy had worked with his friend, Stephen Graham who plays Mulligan, on his acclaimed TV series and the two British actors are firm friends. “I could go through all the cast and the are all really, really good actors and they bring a wealth of experience in storytelling and compassion and playfulness to the table. What a pleasure.”
As well as the anarchic, dark and edgy energy Hardy brings to the roles of Eddie / Venom there’s humour, too. In Venom: Let There Be Carnage it’s a year or so after the first film and Eddie has had to learn to live, not always successfully, with the alien ‘guest’ inside his body.
As Hardy points out, Venom is like an impulse driven, crazy toddler – a very hungry toddler – and Eddie and Venom are like an intergalactic Odd Couple. Eddie is also desperately trying to keep his unique situation a secret. And it’s a little bit wearing, says Hardy.
“Oh I think they’ve had enough of each other in some aspects,” he laughs. “It’s two people who are having to live together like a married couple or as flat mates who get on each other’s nerves. It’s just not working. There are things that we like about each other and things that we don’t like about each other.
“And trying to keep this situation contained is not as easy as Eddie might have thought it was going to be. We find them in the second movie having lived together for a significant amount of time and now it’s painful and irritating.
“You have the Odd Couple and one of them is extremely confident but not from this world and the other one is from this world and he is a neurotic coward,” he laughs.
The tone of the film – that fine balance of humour, standout action and plot driven by extraordinary characters including not one, but two anti-heroes in Eddie and Venom – is crucial, he says.
It is, he says, part of the fun. “That’s the main thing, you’ve got to have fun – teenage fun, adult fun – and joy. These characters are great, they are so versatile and so much fun and there is so much fun to be had here.
“So it’s about how you orchestrate the fun within the rules of the game. So when you have a director like Andy Serkis and Bob Richardson as the DoP (director of photography), who did amazing films like Platoon, an incredible cinematographer, you know you have great people on board and a great bunch of collaborators.
“Andy (Serkis) has spent years in front of the camera as well as behind it and he’s done motion capture and animation and he understands story and nuance and vocal landscapes. He’s a great actor, a great director and a decent man too. He was perfect to direct this and has done an amazing job.”