“I ain't shaving my beard off. To shave my beard off would be to cut my f*cking nuts off. You know what I mean? Without them, I am no longer… I am now a lie. Why would I do that?”
So said Tom Hardy in a recent interview, when asked if he would remove his face fuzz for a photoshoot. So it’s hardly surprising to see that the actor is hirsute in the second series of BBC crime drama Peaky Blinders. Clearly, even if Hoxton beards weren't popular in post-First World War Birmingham, getting Hardy to shave simply wasn’t an option.
The Dark Knight Rises star has some massive projects next year, including Mad Max and his Kray Twins biopic (in which he plays both Ronnie and Reggie), but before that – as these exclusive shots show – there’s his anticipated stint in Peaky Blinders.
Hardy is rumoured to be playing a vicious new antagonist in the show, which tracks the blood-spattered antics of the eponymous Midlands gang (so named for sewing razor blades into their caps) in the early 20th century. Cillian Murphy returns as gang boss Tommy, who’s trying to expand his empire, while other actors include Game Of Thrones’ Noah Taylor and Hardy’s real-life wife, Charlotte Riley.
Creator Steven Knight – who directed Hardy in Locke – says this series will be “more dangerous… The gang are entering areas of even greater jeopardy”. Which is presumably down to nudging some Gillette products in the way of Hardy.
Peaky Blinders II is coming to BBC Two this autumn
[Images: Robert Viglasky Photography]