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How Tom Hardy's Nude Star Trek Audition Tape Landed Him A Huge Movie Role

Before his role as Praetor Shinzon in "Star Trek: Nemesis," Tom Hardy was relatively unknown. Save for brief appearances in critically acclaimed historical dramas "Band of Brothers" and "Black Hawk Down," the actor had yet to break out in a major way. That would change with his audition for "Nemesis." Though this would be the last feature film in the "The Next Generation" timeline with Jean-Luc Picard (Sir Patrick Stewart) in the captain's chair, it was a significant step in Hardy's career.

It had been a difficult process to find an actor who looked enough like Stewart. Shinzon is a genetic replica of Picard, meaning the actor playing him needed to resemble the veteran Stewart as a younger man. According to Entertainment Tonight, Stewart reached out to an agent friend, who recommended Hardy for the role. Because Hardy had been filming abroad, he put himself on tape. And what he filmed was unexpected.

"It was a bizarre video and there are some people who believe he was actually naked in this video. He had the sides of some of the Shinzon scenes, but he was improvising them. He wasn't really doing what was in the script." Stewart continued: "Tom is an extraordinary actor. Really, very distinctive. Very unique." Hardy had other words for it. He recalled to SFX Magazine (via Trek Today) an embarrassing display of dancing around in his underwear. But three days later, he got the job.

Tom Hardy's career has become a whirlwind of iconic characters

True to Sir Patrick Stewart's instincts about Tom Hardy's skills, it wouldn't be long before the actor made a name for himself. He did the independent English film circuit in crime capers such as "RocknRolla" and "Layer Cake" and then started a lucrative relationship with director Christopher Nolan. In 2010, he starred in the mind-twisting film "Inception" as the forger Eames. The two collaborated again in 2012's"The Dark Knight Rises." The conclusion of Nolan's "Batman" trilogy, which features Hardy as Bane, was divisive but made the actor a household name.

"I think he worried it would be something I might not consider because wearing a mask might damage my career or something. He thought I'd be worried that the audience couldn't see my beautiful face," Hardy told Entertainment Weekly of the experience. "Like I care. It's Chris Nolan! I would wear a paper bag over my head for that man." 

Hardy continued his rise to the top with many independent films but found another iconic role. "Mad Max: Fury Road" was a wonder and earned 10 Oscar nominations, including best picture and best director. Starring Charlize Theron in an unapologetically feminist story, the film became beloved. Hardy received praise for his laconic version of Max. He has set himself up with unique roles since the start of his career, and with the likes of "The Revenant," "The Bikeriders," and more, he's impressed audiences with his choices.