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Interview: Shinzon Speaks! Actor Tom Hardy Breathes Life Into Newest TREK Foe, Plus the Scenes You Won't See!

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Posted: 11:14:24 on November 25 2002
By: Steve Krutzler
Dept: TrekWeb Features

Written by Steve Krutzler

This article may contain spoilers, read with care.

Casting the villain in the latest STAR TREK installment was a tall order and director Stuart Baird actually screen tested six actors for the role before receiving a bizzare audition tape from a young unknown actor marooned in Morocco. Performing the NEMESIS casting sides on a poorly-lit tape, British actor Tom Hardy impressed all parties despite some rather curious home video footage that existed alongside his audition on the tape and earned a flight to Los Angeles for screen tests. But playing opposite Patrick Stewart would turn out to be even more difficult when faced with having to mimic the Shakespearean actor for the role of 'Shinzon', a genetically-engineered clone of 'Captain Jean-Luc Picard'.

"[I was] terrified," the 27-year old actor told TrekWeb this weekend. "I think you fundamentally itís an amazing challenge to try to be anybody let alone somebody whoís still alive and in front of you. You have to sort of think within the parameters of what youíre doing, how much you want to be like them. Of course Iíd look at him and his moves and THE NEXT GENERATION to see if there were any shadow moves or any particular nuances Patrick has that I might have to use. But Iím playing a clone as well, so thereís the fact that [Shinzon hasn't] had the same experiences."

Tom Hardy as ShinzonLooking like Patrick Stewart was a little more difficult. Make up artist Michael Westmore sculpted a latex nose and chin to help better approximate a youthful Jean-Luc Picard. In fact, in one scene in the film, Hardy even stands in for Stewart in a photograph of an Academy-era Picard.

"I went back to the special effects department and Michael Westmore took apart my head and tried to sort of fit it into Patrickís mold," Hardy said. "We molded the noseÖ several thousand noses, I think, before we got to the right nose. Then, because my lips are slightly larger we added a scar to take down the size of my lips. We had all this ready to go in latex but we had gelatin as well and under the lights my nose would sort of growó-and then sag."

Stepping into a production as institutionalized as STAR TREK had its advantages, but as an outside among the cast, Hardy says playing the villain made it fit very well.

"[It was] a group who are very accepting, but on the other hand it was incredibly daunting to come in there and sort of be in control and be a villain. It was quite bizarre having so many people who knew what they were doingÖ it was lucky that I was a villain, in many ways," Hardy said.

The STAR TREK villains have always provided a barometer against which future performances are judged, fairly or unfairly. But Hardy, who has perhaps more scenes opposite Stewart than any TNG movie-era villain, takes it in stride.

"You have so much freedom when you play villains. Khan and the Borg Queen are my favorites but I think if you put too much stress on yourself about things like that and try to come in and defeat a performance then itís [too much]," he said when asked if he tried to compare Shinzon to Ricardo Montalban's iconic 'Khan'. "You just go in and do your best. And I was terrified anyway, to make a mess of the whole thing! To compare oneself to or impose upon a character which hasnít had life breathed into it previouslyÖ there are things that are fundamental that we have to deal with anyway without putting more pressure on. But I did look at all the villains."

Tom Hardy as ShinzonAs a clone of Picard, Shinzon has an intensely personal connection with the captain and the film plays off this doppelganger element an delves into serious questions about nature versus nurture.

"As an actor, I found a human soul within the character and that made him a very interesting villain," Hardy offers. "Nobody is all bad. Babies are not born evil, I donít believe. I think we attain baggage and issues with the world and Shinzon is very much the orphan, the lonely child who was the abused child. When it comes to villains, you know, why is this person a monster, why is he all of a sudden so vile? Because of the various things that have been done to him. Itís not just 'haha, Iím bad!'"

Hardy says he never identified with heroes or villains exclusively when growing up: "Three-dimensional are much more interesting than one-dimensional baddies. Cerebral villains are the best. You have to have a light side and a dark side and it depends on what you have and what you donít have."

Some of Shinzon's many sides won't be seen by audiences in NEMESIS when it opens in three weeks. The script produced an initial cut far over two hours and just about everyone fell victim to the chopping block. One such scene was originally to be Shinzon's first appearance in the film and can be glimpsed in the movie's trailers.

"The actor always goes Ďhow could you cut anything of mine?!í There are scenes cut but I think that if you didnít, the fluidity of the movie would be [compromised]," Hardy said. "There was a scene where Iím introduced speaking to the Romulan Senate which has been cut so they could go right to the stairs for a bit of a better impact. With anything you have to carve some sort of story."

Another Shinzon scene excised from the film was Hardy's first day at work for one of two telepathic "rape" scenes with Marina Sirtis's 'Deanna Troi'.

Tom Hardy as Shinzon"Itís the one from the original teaser trailer where I say 'donít fear,' and I wouldíve liked to have seen that because it was my first dayís work and it was terrifying and I think we got something out of it that was good," Hardy said. "But then again, it happens twice, it wasnít right... I think in the original script this happens right before I talk with Picard and am being sort of diplomatic and if you had seen me getting involved in something that clearly one doesnít want to be involved in it [wouldn't have served the structure of the film]."

His first major theatrical role, Hardy, who played small parts in BAND OF BROTHERS and BLACK HAWK DOWN, says he hopes Shinzon will open more doors to him and he's eager to go where the work is. In the end, being a part of the STAR TREK phenomenon is rewarding in its own right.

"[At least] I did one, once. I got a crack at Picard!!!"

© 2002 TrekWeb.com. All Rights Reserved.


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