From playing a rogue agent in Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, to taking on the role of villainous Bane in Batman: The Dark Knight Rises, Tom Hardy is well on the way to becoming the finest actor of his generation. His raw talent, edginess and ability to utterly inhabit the characters he plays have already prompted comparisons to screen legends such as Marlon Brando and Robert De Niro. With a host of critically acclaimed performances under his belt and the bright lights of Hollywood beckoning , Tom's star is undoubtedly in the ascendant. Born into an idyllic, middle-class life in the suburbs, by his teenage years Tom had grown restless and started to rebel. Bad behaviour in the form of alcoholism, drug-taking and criminal activity ensued and after a brief stint working as a model, fate intervened and he found his way onto an acting course at his local college. Having been plucked from drama school to appear in Band of Brothers, by 2003, his addictions had got the better of him and he collapsed in Soho following a drugs binge. Rehabilitation followed, as did a rare second chance at hitting the big time. It was Hardy's standout performance as Stuart Shorter in BBC TV's Stuart: A Life Backwards and as Britain's most notorious prisoner in the film Bronson, which really made audiences and critics sit up and take notice. Since then, he has earned himself a reputation as a shape-shifting actor with the skill to slip effortlessly in and out of contrasting characters such as Eames in blockbusters Inception and Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights. This affectionate and in-depth biography reveals the actor and the life that has shaped him into the star he has become. It explores his wayward youth, his drama school years, his burnout and his complex route to eventual success. With a host of major films on the horizon in 2012 and beyond, his is clearly Hollywood's hottest property - and the best is yet to come.