The character who dominates this production is Tom Hardy’s Bill Sikes, another character Phelps has foregrounded. Hardy is quite a slight man in the flesh, but the pent-up energy of his presence on screen has already led to his being cast as a string of violent characters, such as Stuart Shorter in BBC2’s Stuart: a Life Backwards this autumn. Master-thief and murderer Sikes is the most terrifying yet.
“Violence goes straight through him,” says Hardy, who describes himself as “not a tough guy” – yet in the same breath talks about his boxing training, and how he bit a piece of camera equipment on set as a joke.
Hardy is expressive on what his Bill Sikes isn’t going to be like – “that pantomime, chocolate-box, Christmas Carol side of Dickens”. But he best sums up his portrayal through rumbling growls and wild eye movements.
- Tom Hardy on Oliver Twist. He bit a piece of camera equipment? Uhm. *g*