Did you know that Tom Hardy cast himself as a biracial man in ‘Taboo’?

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Here are some photos of Tom Hardy at Monday night’s premiere of his new FX series, Taboo. I don’t really want to watch this show (it premiered last night), and everything I’m reading about it just confirms that this show was not made me for me, you know? Apparently, Tom cast himself as a biracial man (the product of droit du seigneur between his slave owning father his his slave mother), and there’s a lot of stuff about Hardy’s character’s “savage” sensibilities or something. The whole thing seems like a mess. Tom is promoting it with eagerness though, the kind of eagerness he never shows for projects he’s not producing. He sat down with New York Magazine for their cover story this week – you can read the full piece here. I learned that Tom loves to sketch and draw and that he’s pretty good. Some other highlights:

The lead character, played by Hardy: “What interested me about Bill Sikes was, fundamentally, he’s a bit of a hero, but he’s played as a bad guy. All these characters are pretty mercurial and have a bit of naughty in them, too, but they’re doing a noble thing. If you go back into the history of classical texts and look at characters like Oedipus, Electra, Agamemnon, you think, F-ck — these people have pretty horrific things going on in their lives, but they’re the heroes! Can you make someone heinous likable?

His habit of playing bad guys and ‘bastards’: “Bane loves the sound of his own voice. You laugh at him, but there’s also a feeling of truth to what he’s saying. That’s always true of demagogues. They’re clownlike, and yet they have an incredible amount of power. The appeal for me in playing villains or baddies, or however you want to put it, is that there’s often a lot more in the way of the subtleties and complexities and paradoxes of the human condition to play with than there is in a straight lead.

The hero is never as interesting as the villain: “By default, by default. Things happen to them; they don’t make things happen. There’s a laziness in storytelling whereby you present the character as a blank canvas and then you throw a lot of stimulus at the character and you just follow this blank canvas through various rooms where we meet the actually interesting people. But if you have your protagonist fully faceted in ambiguity and hypocrisy and the paradox of true heinous wrongness, combined with innate nobility, well, that’s more interesting to watch. Great Expectations, Oliver Twist. It’s all there. The Shakespeare tragedies. Or Marlowe with Faustus… The Old Testament! There you go! Pestilence and famine! I liked the stories from the New Testament, because Jesus was a cool guy who did some pretty cool things and miracles. But the Old Testament was swathed in chaos and Dionysian behavior. The Old Testament is Wagner and Mahler.

[From NY Magazine]

I actually agree with him 100% about the lazy storytelling of having a blank slate lead character who serves as “an everyman” or the conduit with which the audience can enter the film. There’s so much of that in filmmaking today. As for the rest of it… he’s also right about demagogues and clowns. And villains.

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Photos courtesy of WENN.

 

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99 Responses to “Did you know that Tom Hardy cast himself as a biracial man in ‘Taboo’?”

  1. tanesha86 says:

    Yup, officially done with Tom Hardy

    • JulP says:

      Same. I was done with him after he was rude to that reporter last year, and this just reaffirms my belief that he’s an asshole. And since he produced the show, this is all on him – he clearly saw nothing wrong with white washing. I seriously don’t understand how people still think this is ok when Hollywood has been called out for it repeatedly in the past couple of years. (Interestingly, Ridley Scott is also an executive producer on this show, and he was rightfully raked over the coals for his white washing in Exodus: Gods and Kings. They never learn).

      • Crox says:

        Perhaps they’re deliberately resisting changes until the critics give up?

        It’s not like whitewashing really hurts them. It’s talked about much, then people mock the people who complain, but it (at the moment) hardly has any financial impact. What killed GoE wasn’t whitewashing, it was the fact it was a terrible film. With Trump gaining power and people celebrating the future death of political correctness, criticism of whitewashing is treated like free publicity.

        We live in scary times.

        On the positive note, films with diverse cast are doing great as well, so at least “the other side” isn’t winning either. It seems to me that people don’t care either way, they just don’t like to hear others complain (just or unjust).

      • detritus says:

        Won’t learn because they think everyone else is wrong.
        They are right and we just don’t get their ‘art’.

  2. Pri says:

    Hmmmm,

    I guess they can rationalize and say the mother could have been “light-skinned” or herself bi-racial (or a quarter). But still…..
    side -eye has been invoked.

  3. CidySmiley says:

    White. Nonsense. Not sorry for anyone offended but thats all that is. Stop taking people’s race and culture to make yourself more interesting at the expense of them. Take it elsewhere. Getting real tired of having to explain that sh*t like this is dangerous for people of color and actual biracial people’s. Just like casting a straight/cis person in the role of a trans person is dangerous for trans people, when you take other folks culture for entertainment its dangerous to them. The world is ignorant enough, please dont fuel ignorance more.

  4. T.Fanty says:

    *That* was bi-racial? Is that supposed to explain the accent? Or why he couldn’t button up his shirt? Because he was a bit savage, and all that? Ohhhh, Tommy dear, no.

    I watched it last night. As far as actor vanity projects go, this made Luther look like a model of restraint. I think they just forgot to put in a plot for the first fifty minutes and assumed that we would all be happy to watch Hardy glower. If it had been Hardy glowering with his dog, that might have been different. But, sadly, they missed that opporutnity.

  5. Margo S. says:

    Shaking my head. I just can’t with these numb nuts anymore….

  6. Div says:

    Is this racist mess accurate through? I feel like if this was the case it would be big news in all the reviews….as bad as Hollywood is the media has been calling them out lately on the racist whitewashing. The Emma Stone is Asian/Gods of Egypt/etc. messes were all over the entertainment blogs….So far I’ve only seen this mentioned in the Variety review and on twitter and that is it….

    The reason I am wondering about the accuracy is because a critic I follow who is pretty adamant on calling out whitewashing in Hollywood hasn’t said a word about this yet. However, if he did cast himself as biracial he’s cancelled.

  7. Locke Lamora says:

    Tom Hardy is an idiot. What. A. Surprise. I hardly saw that coming.

  8. Sarah says:

    FFS hardy why do you have to go do that?

  9. trollontheloose says:

    he also said he wished he was going full frontal for this character. Because “it’s not 100% period if a cloth goes in the way”. something like that. That’s the thinking of someone who think that his character being full frontal would be more “I got the power of a master”.

  10. CidySmiley says:

    Can he just take several seats?

  11. Ramona says:

    The ONLY way this is ok is if the story is about how he then “passes” in white society. Biracial individuals even today experience the world as people of color NOT white folks. Its disgusting when people come along with that “but what about his white heritage” when they know damn well that all the world sees is a black person.

  12. Lindy says:

    He is completely gross for doing that. I’m over it with him, not that I was ever a huge fan. If he can’t see the racism and wrongheadedness of this, then he’s dumber even than I thought.

  13. Marty says:

    Yep, which has why I didn’t bother recording it last night. That, and it sort of looks terrible.

    • AG-UK says:

      Give me Silent Witness any day :) sad I know

    • Sixer says:

      I hadn’t realised he’d whitewashed himself before watching the first episode. Even ignoring that – not that we should – it was… odd. No plot for ages then a boring plot and then… is he appropriating Native American spirituality? Is it supernatural? Is he deranged? It was all most odd. Did. Not. Like.

      Shame because I do love The Bloke as an actor. And he’d almost redeemed himself for the royal polo-playing by doing an episode of the BBC’s bedtime story show for littluns (which Sixlet Minor, at senior school, still watches, don’t tell him I grassed that to you) WITH HIS DOG.

      Now this. He’s back on my naughty step, I’m afraid.

      • Marty says:

        I saw that! It was pretty darn cute.

        Taboo just looked all over the place. When I first read the plot it sounded like it could have been an interesting look into the time period, but Taboo seems like storytelling is a low priority.

      • Sixer says:

        I like clarity in storytelling and it really wasn’t there, Marty. And if I’d realised there was whitewashing, I wouldn’t have watched at all. I have a nasty feeling that there’s going to be a lot of appropriation of Native American religion, so um… yeah. Let’s ignore it going forward.

        The story WAS cute, right? He was SO close to being back in my good books!

      • frisbee says:

        Yeah agree with you, it was just bollocks basically, shan’t be watching it again which is a pity after the CBB’s thing I was looking forward to it, now I just fancy having his dog more than having him

      • Marty says:

        I understand Sixer, it’s such a weird plotpoint anyway. Surely they could have come up with a better plotline that still showcased drama and conflict? Having him play biracial anything seems unnecessary.

      • Sixer says:

        At one point, he put markings on his face and whispered – prayer? incantation? – at his father’s funeral. At that point, I was still assuming his character was just white, so I thought eh? Is there magic in this? Then we got the reveal that his mother was Native American. So I think it was appropriation rather than supernatural. I shan’t be watching more either way.

      • OffTang says:

        Sixer, I have to confess that I don’t understand your point about cultural appropriation at all. Do you think that a man who has spent more than 10 years in Africa won’t be able to adopt and absorb some of its language, culture and religion? This would be highly unrealistic to say the least. Moreover, assuming that an individual can never be en-cultered within a foreign society with a different set of values and beliefs points towards cultural determinism. And this is problematic because it puts individuals in a box for the rest of their lives: they can never genuinely adhere to a set of beliefs by virtue of being born and raised in another culture. Hence, the cultural deterministic view would suggest that people can only ”appropriate” foreign beliefs, which I think is incredibly misguided.

        Regarding the graveyard scene in Taboo, Hardy is speaking Twi (from the Ashanti Kingdom, currently Ghana). They has consultants for that apparently: http://www.radiotimes.com/news/2017-01-07/13-burning-questions-we-have-after-the-first-episode-of-taboo

        So once again, why is it so offensive and unrealistic that the Hardy’s character would adopt the mores and beliefs of the Ashanti people? Of course Bowdich (who left a very interesting account of that) arrived at the Ashanti Kingdom in 1817 only, but Taboo is not a documentary. Factually however, we know that some of the Europeans which traveled for commerce and slave trade to the African West Coast were able to speak the language and adopted some of the local habits (this facilitated their negotiations with the local chieftains). And then you may encounter really existing figures such as this one:

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Francisco_Félix_de_Sousa

        So here we have a multi racial slave trader who not only was considered to be ”Africanized” by the traveling Europeans but also had a vodun shrine. And he was almost an exact contemporary of the Hardy’s character.

        So I still do not think that the issue of ”appropriation” is relevant at all.

      • Noelle says:

        @OffTang very insightful, thank you.

    • SPipple says:

      OffTang said wise words; exactly my thought. Sorry folks, i’m hooked!

  14. AG-UK says:

    My husband saw it he is meant to be half Asian?? I don’t know if I really fancy it now.

  15. QueenB says:

    not really surprised. shocking that a white man is a douche.

    also most of his female fans will be over this the moment he poses shirtless. great world we live in.

  16. eatingpie says:

    Disgusting. How the hell can people in Hollywood still think that this is okay??

  17. Mia4S says:

    So far in the comments it seems we are not sure if he’s supposed to be Half-African, Half-Native American, or Half-Asian?!? Yikes, what is this show??

    I’ll be skipping this series, thanks bye!

  18. Aminah says:

    It’s certainly a biracial role, but when I watched it I thought his character said his mother was Native American. From comments here she may have been African or Asian? The show itself was quite hammy and overdone. Oona Chaplin’s character seems to exist solely to either gasp loudly or stare stoically and there was a lot of mumbling and wavering accents.

  19. QQ says:

    *leans In* -______________- Really ….Really??!?!?

  20. Alexis says:

    So I already knew it was a bootleg Penny Dreadful (itself a guilty pleasure on the very edge of being awful), and now this? LOL.

  21. Susan (different one) says:

    His mother in the story is Native American, not African. His father is white. Why is this offensive? The only thing I find offensive here is writing a critical piece and getting facts like that wrong.

    Maybe you should watch the show before criticizing it.

  22. Cee says:

    Hello, Joseph Conrad 2.0

    Haven’t watched it yet (and I will) but like others have said, the mother is Native American. I’m not sure this is a problem, or needs to be one, but what do I know.

  23. Miss Grace Jones says:

    People honestly sitting back and suggesting that this is less offensive because the character is half native as opposed to African really shows how dim white people are when it comes to race, as if the history of erasure and brutality towards indigenous people in America is something that can be passed off since I don’t know natives aren’t dark enough for them to pretend to be outraged over? At least with my people ya’ll fake like you care. The condescending attitude over people who supposedly can’t read makes my stomach turn none of you sound as intelligent or rational as you think. Forget the obnoxious premise.

    • Aminah says:

      I agree. I’m really surprised at people saying it’s no big deal because his mother is meant to be Native American.

      • Susan (different one) says:

        Tom Hardy is playing a character who was raised white, thought he was 100% white and is supposed to look white. He finds out the truth of his mother in his 30s and no one else knows the truth of his heritage. Do you really think casting someone who isn’t white or can pass for white works for that role??

      • Aminah says:

        @ Susan (different one)

        “Tom Hardy is playing a character who was raised white, thought he was 100% white and is supposed to look white.”

        Yes. But the character is not white. And Tom Hardy is. There lies the crux of the matter. There are white passing people and there are certainly white passing actors. Broaden your horizons a little. An unknown white passing actor would have created a greater impact when viewers discovered his secret heritage and avoided the furore about race-bending. Or, if Tom Hardy was so desperate to play the role, the character could just have been a white man inspired by non-white cultures. That would also be an interesting direction, especially during the time the series is set. It could have touched on issues like fetishization of culture, inter-racial belonging/adoption/identification, racism during the era, etc.

        “Do you really think casting someone who isn’t white or can pass for white works for that role??”

        Yes, actually, I do. In actual fact, I think it would be perfect. Seeing as, you know, how that is *exactly* the role that they’re casting for. Do you, however, really think that casting someone white in a rare non-white starring role works for that (once again) non-white role?

      • OffTang says:

        @Aminah I’m sorry but what do you mean by ”passing for white”? Is it someone who looks like a white person (whatever that means) without being white? If yes, what does a typically white person really look like? Given the wide range of ”white” people ethnic subgroups what are the characteristics which would qualify for external ”whiteness” ? And which wouldn’t?

        Hardy’s character mother is a case in point. She was passed off for a Neapolitan woman because some south Italian women have some facial features/complexion in common with Salish women. This commonality is external. But it points out towards the fact that external characteristics of ”whiteness” are not as clear cut as you are making it out to be.

        ”An unknown white passing actor would have created a greater impact when viewers discovered his secret heritage and avoided the furore about race-bending”
        Erm why? Because we do not know if this actor is white or not the ”reveal” should make a ”bigger impact”? This does not make sense on many levels. First, the mother ethnicity was not treated as a great surprise or discovery. It was mentioned in the first episode, between Hardy’s character and his butler in a completely non dramatic way. So the show creators did not intend to make a ”great impact” at all.

        But there is something more bizarre in your argumentation though. You argue that a an actor ”passing for white” will be better than a white actor. In so doing, you recognize that an actor has to look white for that role. However, you also assert that such external ”whiteness” is only acceptable if the actor is not white. So what matters is the person genetic and ethnic make up rather than some external characteristics which would serve the plot of the show. This leads us to a paradoxical situation when you rally for a non-white ethnic make up which ironically, won’t never be apparent on screen because of the ”passing for white” requirement.

    • Lalu says:

      I am loving Grace’s comment…
      “At least with my people y’all fake like you care”

  24. Derpy says:

    Yep I watched it
    She is supposed to be Native American.
    Maybe people should watch something before pissing and moaning.
    It was a little hard to understand but kinda cool.

  25. Luffy says:

    This is disgusting. It’s whitewashing plain and simple.

  26. Littlestar says:

    White people back at it again. Tom Hardy is Native American, Emma Stone is Hawaiian and Chinese, Catherine Zeta Jones is Mexican. Just cast actual mixed people or POC and stop white washing stuff. It’s Hollywood’s racist legacy, 2017 and they can’t be bothered to cast non-white actors but instead just to continue hiring whites and sticking to whitewashed images that omit actual brown/black/Asian experiences and features.

    • Grumpy says:

      Just re CZJ, many Mexicans are of European ancestry and CZJ is European so she is fine in that regard. She is dark Welsh and the dark Welsh and dark Irish and are considered to be descended from the people of the Iberian Peninsula, which gives them more in common with spaniards/Latin people than with Anglo Saxons.

  27. Doublesteff says:

    It seems that everyone always needs to be in an uproar about SOMETHING. Why can’t we all just step back a moment and realize that its ACTING. If an actor plays a part with all of his same traits, its not really acting is it? Its reading lines on a page. I fully expect that this post will be unpopular and I have no problem with that. If my choice of career were acting I would hope to play a large variety of characters quite unlike myself. That telling a story would be the goal no matter the physical characteristics of the character.

    • Littlestar says:

      Yeah and if you were a non-white actor you’d be relegated to bit pieces unable to get into bigger roles because most roles are white and even the non-white roles go to whites. You wouldn’t have a career. Hollywood has always done this, it’s a systematic discrimination this is not a one time thing. They’ve consistently cast white people as Native American, Mexican, Asian, etc. rather than hire an actual person of that descent. Often times to portray said people as caricatures. Have a seat.

  28. Lalu says:

    Two things…
    Tom hardy is hot.
    Hollywood is the pinnacle of hypocrisy.

  29. andrea says:

    This seems like a non-story…wasn’t taboo written by Tom Hardy and his father. I don’t the controversy. Ralph Finnes as Michael Jackson…absolutely. Tom Hardy portraying a fictional character written by Tom Hardy for Tom Hardy that may be of mixed race but no one is quite sure….

  30. Veronica says:

    Was it significant to the story that the character be white-passing? Obviously, somebody who’s the product of, say, black and white racial mixing is going to be obviously not 100% Caucasian in their features, but it can get a little more ambiguous depending on the genetics involved if the racial characteristics are more similar. My sister’s husband is more than a quarter Cherokee, but you’d never be able to tell from his blond hair and blue eyes. I feel a mixed race actor is likely the better choice, but it may not be AS egregious if the character is not blatantly intended to be something other than white.

  31. rocio-gt says:

    Maybe it’s a double bluff and Delaney eventually discovers he was lied to and he’s not biracial, and his half sister is actually his full sister or something? :/

  32. BJ says:

    Leave him alone don’t you realize how few acting opportunities there are out there for white men?
    Stop being a hater
    LOl

  33. Anare says:

    I watched the first episode of Taboo and liked it very much. I would never call Hardy’s casting as whitewashing. I have friends who are half native half white and with respect to appearance Tom Hardy could be their brother. I am very bored with this argument.

  34. Annetommy says:

    Someone may have pointed out….Anthony Hopkins played an African American in the film “The Human Stain”, based on the Philip Roth novel. The point of the book is that Hopkin’s character is passing as white, but I can’t recall any suggestions that the casting was a major mistake. And indeed Hopkin’s career has thrived. I guess there’s more sensitivity now.

  35. Lindsey says:

    That he wrote a role for someone of a different race and chose himself to star in it? Are you new here? A lot of people have gone to a lot of trouble to eloquently explain the problem of Hollywood whitewashing. Having roles that should be filled by POC routinely filled by white actors and a lack of representation in movies especially as leads is problematic. It is nearly impossible to find a case of this where a white actor playing a different race adds to the story in anyway or is otherwise justifiable (Cloud Atlas maybe?). There is other bothersome cultural appropriation even without him starring by choice as a POC.

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