Nicholas Winding Refn’s “Bronson” is a movie about the notoriously violent Michael Peterson, who was renamed Charles Bronson by his fight promoter. Bronson was born in Aberystwyth in 1952 and raised in Liverpool and Luton by a respectable working-class couple. He was convicted of a botched armed robbery of a post office in 1974, and since then he spent 34 years in prison. He became one of the most dangerous criminals in the United Kingdom and he spent most of his prison time in a solitary confinement.
The role of Britain’s most notorious criminal was given to Tom Hardy. The director of the film Nicholas Winding Refn looked at every young actor in England, and he decided that Tom Hardy was the best choice.
His performance in Bronson is a perfect example of Refn’s intentions and Hardy’s abilities that created this substantial, dimensional, and magnetic character. The role launched Hardy onto Hollywood’s radar.
Tom Hardy had only five weeks to turn himself into the most notorious criminal in Britain, a man who has attacked over 20 guards and fellow prisoners and managed to take 11 hostages during his four decades in prison. He didn’t have time to waste, so he started eating as much as he could. He put around 3.1 kilograms per week without using steroids. In the end, he put 15 kilograms by eating rice and chicken and pizza and Coca-Cola.
He had no official workout plan, so he was doing a series of non-specific exercises, including push-ups, ab work, and random resistance training. To become Charles Bronson he had to put a lot of weight on his forearms, chest, and neck. By the time he finished his legs looked those of a stork in comparison to the top half of his body.
The actor met the convicted armed robber while preparing for playing him in new film Bronson, Charles Bronson himself wasn’t impressed with Tom Hardy when he first saw him. He thought that Hardy would never be able to play him. When Hardy went to visit Charles Bronson again after a few weeks of training he impressed him with his looks. In his journals, published as Diaries from Hell: Charles Bronson – My Prison Diaries he says he is proud of Tom Hardy.
About a month after that, he wrote again of the film and Tom Hardy, “A big event today: I chopped off the most infamous tash in the UK, if not Europe – maybe the world. Yeah, my mustache has gone and it’s going to end up going through Tom Hardy’s letter box. Maybe the make-up artists on set can stick it on his top lip. If not, Tom can stick it in his pocket for luck. Then at least part of me will be on the film set!”
Hardy trained hard for weeks and the results showed that the training was worth it. He changed his way of living, shaved his head, and grew a mustache in order to transform himself into the most notorious criminal in Britain – Charles Bronson.