Tom Hardy set tongues wagging in the U. K. with raw-nerved performances in "Stuart: A Life Backwards" (BBC, 2007) and "Bronson" (2009), and in the U.S. as well with a scene-stealing performance in Christopher Nolan's sci-fi blockbuster, "Inception" (2010). With this trifecta of projects, he found himself vaulted from rising U.K. heartthrob to Hollywood breakout-star-in-the-making. A native of suburban London, Hardy stumbled through an adolescence of recidivist juvenile delinquency and drug-addiction to channel his energies into drama. He won some high-profile early acting jobs, seeing his first major screen time in the youthful ensemble of the epic HBO miniseries, "Band of Brothers" (2001), and turning in an intense performance as the intergalactic villain in "Star Trek: Nemesis" (2002). A crack cocaine habit nearly derailed his career, but upon sobering up, he served notice he was a dramatic force to be reckoned with, winning raves and awards for his 2003 performances in the West End productions of "In Arabia, We'd All Be Kings" and "Blood." He won the romantic lead of the Earl of Leicester in the 2005 BBC miniseries "The Virgin Queen," the first of a series of critically lauded prestige television projects that would include "Stuart: A Life Backwards" and classic film remakes "A for Andromeda" (BBC, 2006), "Oliver Twist" (BBC, 2007) and "Wuthering Heights" (ITV, 2009). He would show a distinct penchant for playing tough guys in U.K.-produced indie features such as Guy Richie's "RocknRolla" (2008) and "Bronson" before his hilarious turn as a dream-walking thief in "Inception" put him on the fast-track to higher-profile films, including Nolan's much-anticipated third Batman film series installment and the title character in a "Mad Max" reboot. A sinewy ball of thespian intensity, Hardy earned his growing renown not only as a simmering bad boy, but as a ferociously charismatic leading man.