My head is a bit wonky."It's early November when we meet in a postproduction house in Soho, central London, and Hardy has a deadline.
He needs to finalise the edit on the third episode of is set in 1814, and Hardy plays James Delaney, an adventurer who returns home from 10 years in the Congo to discover that his recently dead father has bequeathed him an unusual inheritance, which is of interest to both the British and American governments and the East India Company.
Thanks to gigs like But Hardy is both in Hollywood and not in Hollywood.
He's matinee-idol handsome, with plump lips, smouldering eyes and those much-papped pecs, but he resists playing the pretty, heroic roles his physiognomy was made for.
I was like, 'OK, I'll get it done, but you have to write it properly.'"And he probably will.
Hardy's body art is very much a statement of his commitment: to his lovers, to his family, to himself. He has her name, Lindy King, tattooed on the inside of his arm, which he said he would do if she ever got him into Hollywood.
He once admitted, "I would have sold my mother for a rock of crack," and has described the moment he woke up lying in a pool of blood and vomit on London's Old Compton Street with a crack pipe in his hand.
He's also told a story of the time he was supposed to meet director John Woo in Hollywood but instead found himself passed out in a bed in downtown LA alongside a naked man he didn't know with a gun and cat (whom he didn't know either). "There were systematically, constantly, things that were put across my path where it was, 'Tom, you need to wake up because there are more important things to do.
Drama was a passing interest, though it was encouraged by Chips and Anne because, as he said, "from a very privileged position I was underachieving and my desperate parents were like, 'Fucking hell, we've got to find something for Tom to do.'"Then things got worse.
Underachieving turned into serious misbehaving — including getting caught with a friend in a stolen Mercedes-Benz with a firearm — which eventually spiralled into a debilitating drink and drug addiction. I know plenty of people who were born with a nice silver spoon or whatever — very dead.
And you keep on doing stuff that's nonsense, and you of all people have been born with opportunities.' So I had words with myself about the reality of wanking about when there's such a lot to be getting on with." He's been sober since 2003, though the impulses are still there.
In Canada, he told me about "Arthur", the orangutan who is the metaphorical manifestation of his destructive urges, which he likens to Winston Churchill's "black dog" of depression. There's an idea that actors should come to roles as blank slates, so that your knowledge of their real lives doesn't detract from the role they're playing, but with Hardy it feels that his experiences add another layer to his performances.
Let's just say, the title of the show is no accident.