Rising Star: Tom Hardy

It may seem difficult to stand out in the company of Leonardo DiCaprio, Ellen Page and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, but a 32-year-old British actor – who might be best known to “Star Trek” fans – is turning heads in a standout role in Christopher Nolan’s “Inception,” which opens this Friday. Meet AccessHollywood.com’s newest rising star – Tom Hardy!

After delivering impressive performances in “Star Trek: Nemesis,” “Layer Cake” and “RocknRolla,” Tom is set to break out in “Inception,” one of the summer’s most highly anticipated movies, as Eames – a freelance forger (someone who can take over other people’s consciousness while they are dreaming).

Tom and the rest of the “Inception” cast are thrown into a world of mind-bending action sequences and amazing dreamscapes that Christopher artfully crafted for the movie’s world – but Tom’s lack of one winter sport skill almost cost him the role.

“I thought that I wouldn’t get to work with him,” Tom recently told Access Hollywood’s Maria Menounos when asked about his audition for “The Dark Knight” director. “He asked me if I could ski and the conversation had been going so well until that point, and I thought, hmm, ‘I could lie here,’ then I said, ‘No, honesty is the best policy.’ And I said, ‘Chris, I can’t ski at all.’”

The director, however, remembers the skiing incident happening a little bit differently.

“I remember calling Tom Hardy and asking him, ‘Can you ski?’ and there was a slight pause and I said, ‘Well, the pause actually tells the whole story, Tom,’” Christopher told Maria.

Despite his winter sport deficiency, Tom jumped into the role – landing on the side of a snowy mountain in Canada with nowhere to go but down.

”[I was] bound and gagged and tied to the back of a Ski-Doo and sent down a mountain at 40 miles an hour with Chris going, ‘Come on Tom, come on!’” the actor recalled.

“Because I can’t ski, at all, they gave me a crash course in skiing. For two days we were sent to Calgary, we were dispatched to the mountains to learn to ski and when you see it at the end of the movie, it’s actually all of our own work.”

His commitment to the role did not go unnoticed on Christopher, who said of the actor, “He’s an incredibly physical performer and incredibly precise, diligent and can learn to do things very fast.”

Tom explained that he was willing to take on the risks on the movie due to the amazing environment Christopher created.

“He makes you feel safe. He creates a small and intimate world, a very safe environment where you’re not really aware [of the risks],” Tom said.

He might have instantly felt safe around his director, but his co-stars – namely Leonardo – are another story.

“I love Leo, he’s brilliant,” Tom said, but then admitted. “Initially, I was a little bit concerned because my girlfriend has always fancied the pants off him…but since I met him and I saw him work, I have to admit he’s one of the best actors around. Actually, he’s the most kind, gentle, articulate, intelligent human beings that I know.”

“Did you bring your girlfriend on set?” Maria asked.

“Absolutely not!” Tom was quick to say.

In addition to the upcoming boxing movie, “Warrior,” Tom has been tapped to play Mad Max in “Mad Max: Fury Road,” – a prequel to the franchise formerly starring Mel Gibson, slated for 2012 – a project he is remaining very tight-lipped about.

“Technically, yes,” he said when asked about landing the role. “I can’t [talk about the movie,] I’m not allowed to… I haven’t started [shooting it yet.] But, I’m looking forward to it.”

“Inception” opens in theaters on July 16.

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