Way Back When: Tom Hardy

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Maybe you first noticed British actor Tom Hardy in 'Bronson,' or maybe it was his breakout performance in Chris Nolan's 'Inception' that turned your head -- but in today's Way Back When, we take a look at the gorgeous leading man back before you knew his name.

Modeling Contest

Way, way back in 1998, Tom Hardy was featured on this British modeling competition show called 'The Big Breakfast,' in which he was rocking this sort of Keanu Reeves thing with his facial hair and posture. But what we think is even cuter is that Hardy lists Gary Oldman as his acting hero, and he would go on to star in both 'Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy' and 'The Dark Knight Rises' alongside his idol.

'Band of Brothers'

In 2001, Tom Hardy landed a role on the Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg-produced HBO mini-series 'Band of Brothers,' a critically-acclaimed show about the Easy Company of the 101st Airborne Division of the US Army during World War II. It was one of those big ensemble pieces that's like the television version of one the clubs 'SNL's' Stefon is always babbling about. This show has everything! Damian Lewis, Ron Livingston, one of the Wahlberg brothers (it's a surprise!), and Tom Hardy naked.

Okay, we can't show you Tom Hardy naked, but here's a clip from 'Band of Brothers,' wherein Hardy learns from a newspaper that the Germans are bad:

'Black Hawk Down'

Perhaps a more jarring comparison to modern-day Tom Hardy is 'Black Hawk Down,' in which a thin and goofy Hardy plays Twombly alongside Josh Hartnett and Ewan McGregor in the Ridley Scott war thriller. His American accent is even better here than in 'Band of Brothers,' and he gets to sport that ridiculous military haircut. But seriously, we were swooning over Josh Hartnett in 2001 and where is that guy now, anyway? Our priorities were not what they should have been.

'Star Trek: Nemesis'

In this 'Star Trek' film, Hardy plays Shinzon, a Romulan whose identity is entwined with that of Captain Picard. Okay, so Shinzon sounds like it should be a designer breed of some annoying dog or some fancy kitchen appliance that does something cute to vegetables. But you can kind of hear the early seeds of Hardy's Bane from 'The Dark Knight Rises,' can't you? Just imagine his voice muffled and a little more pompous and grandiose.

'The Reckoning'

Back before Tom Hardy was Gotham's reckoning in 'The Dark Knight Rises,' he was in a movie called 'The Reckoning,' with the bonkers-amazing cast of Willem Dafoe, Brian Cox, Vincent Cassel, and Paul Bettany. The film follows a priest on the run in the 14th century, who takes up with a group of traveling actors -- the group discovers a murder has taken place and then sets about trying to recreate the circumstances to solve the mystery. If you ever wanted to see Tom Hardy in what amounts to one of those fake pregnancy suits with yarn hair on his head while he rubs lipstick on his mouth, now's your chance:

'Marie Antoinette'

Hardy gets fancy-shmancy in Sofia Coppola's 'Marie Antoinette' with Kirsten Dunst and Rose Byrne. The actor gets very few lines in his role as the young queen's friend Raumont, but none of that matters because have you seen Tom Hardy in a powdered wig and tiny fancy pants? It's kind of the best:

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