Tom Hardy returns for double the fun in Venom sequel
Although the considerable physical, technical and creative challenges of playing not one but two extraordinary Marvel characters – one of them being an eight-foot badass alien with a voracious appetite and a devastating temper – are obvious, daunting and demanding, for Tom Hardy returning as Eddie Brock/Venom in a much anticipated superhero sequel was mostly an opportunity to have fun.
He simply loves playing both of them.
Investigative reporter Brock, who was infected by alien symbiote Venom while working on a journalistic expose, has fused with it, and the two have to share the same body – and small apartment - often with hilarious and breathtakingly thrilling results.
The 44-year-old English actor said: “It’s a joy to play two different parts of a psyche because Venom and Eddie are one for me, they are just differentiated by the fact that one is the monster and one is Eddie but they are always contained within one individual.
“It’s entirely orchestrated by the script and the script has been created by a writer who has been in the driving seat from the get-go, so it’s great fun and I just want to keep challenging it and pushing it and seeing what else I can do with it.”
It’s that sense of fun – coupled with spectacular effects, brilliantly choreographed action sequences and standout performances including a tour de force from Hardy himself – that captured the hearts of audiences all over the world in 2018 when Venom became a massive box office hit.
And it’s that dedication to provide another episode of cinematic joy that drove Hardy and his collaborators, including new director Andy Serkis and returning screenwriter Kelly Marcel, while making Venom: Let There Be Carnage, which opens in cinemas here on Oct 14.
The follow-up has already generated US$141 million (S$191 million) in North America and US$185 million worldwide.
Hardy said: “You know this was a federation of people, great talents, who came together to have a lot of fun with the second episode of a franchise that we hope will become much loved in the world of superhero and fantasy movies.
“We’re really proud of it and we think, quietly, it’s better than the first. And I’m really looking forward to everyone seeing it on a big screen.”
Hardy and his longtime creative collaborator Marcel – who have worked closely together on various projects for more than a decade - came up with the idea for the story for Let There Be Carnage and Marcel wrote the screenplay.
Brock wants a quiet life to concentrate on writing his book while Venom wants more action.
But they are inadvertently about to unleash an adversary in the form of serial killer Cletus Kasady (Woody Harrelson), a ferocious alien killing machine known as Carnage, that will put them, and San Francisco, in mortal danger.
Fans first caught a glimpse of Kasady at the end of the first film, and this time he takes centre stage.
Hardy said: “Woody is one of the coolest people I have ever met. As a human being and as an actor he is just formidable and 100 per trustworthy to deliver. There is nothing that you can present him with that will shock him, he has an answer, a solution to everything and he has a story to tell. As an artist he is just wonderful and such a brilliant, talented, playful creative, so it’s an absolute joy to work with him.”
He added: “There are incredible action sequences in this one. For me, this film is much more than the original.
We’ve built on the first. We’ve developed this character and in this one we are pushing it story-wise, with plot, introduction of great new characters and mining the territory and investing in what we loved from the first film.
“And we’re adding to the thrill and spectacle elements with fantastic sequences that are completely different than anything we saw in the first. This is a new film, and a new world with new characters and new stakes.”
Hardy records the voice of Venom before each scene and when he’s playing Brock he can interact, as Brock, with the pre-recorded track thanks to the perfect timing and expertise of sound engineer Patrick Anderson.
Hardy and Marcel also immersed themselves in the comic book history of Venom and had an in-house expert, producer Avi Arad, on hand throughout.
Hardy said: “He is a Venom aficionado and has access to every single comic there is, all sorts of memorabilia, and he’s our resident Venom expert.
“And also there are plenty of Venom fans that we have dialogue with.
“Obviously we are making a movie that is going to continue on from the first and with eyes on hopefully making a third if that’s what people want.
“So we want to do our best not only to preserve elements that are recognisable not only to the hardcore fans but also push Venom towards a wider cinematic audience who may not know who Venom is in the same way.
“So our version of Venom is a blend of our own playful imaginations while also honouring the comics to the best of our abilities while also making a PG13 film, so there are rules.”
As well as the anarchic, dark and edgy energy Hardy brings to the roles of Brock/Venom, there’s humour too.
In Venom: Let There Be Carnage, it’s a year or so after the first film and Brock has had to learn to live, not always successfully, with the alien ‘guest’ inside his body.
As Hardy points out, Venom is like an impulse-driven, crazy toddler – a very hungry toddler – and Brock and Venom are like an intergalactic Odd Couple.
Brock is also desperately trying to keep his unique situation a secret. And it’s a little bit wearing, said Hardy.
“Oh I think they’ve had enough of each other in some aspects,” he said with a laugh.
“It’s two people who are having to live together like a married couple or as flat mates who get on each other’s nerves. It’s just not working. There are things that we like about each other and things that we don’t like about each other.
“And trying to keep this situation contained is not as easy as Eddie might have thought it was going to be.
“We find them in the second movie having lived together for a significant amount of time and now it’s painful and irritating.
“You have the Odd Couple and one of them is extremely confident but not from this world and the other one is from this world and he is a neurotic coward.”
He added: “It can be both dark – with a genuinely frightening super-villain in Carnage – but it can also be funny and playful too, with, for example, Venom causing chaos as he prepares breakfast in Eddie’s apartment.”