Austin Butler is comparing his “The Bikeriders” co-star Tom Hardy to legendary actor Marlon Brando.
Butler, while in conversation with “Dune: Part Two” co-star Josh Brolin for Interview magazine, reflected on working with Hardy on Jeff Nichols’ motorcycle gang drama. Butler plays a reckless bikerider who is part of Hardy’s gang in the 1960s Midwest.
“After the spectacle of ‘Elvis’ and ‘Dune,’ and these characters that were quite different from me, to be able to go to something where — there’s an intimate sensitivity to ‘The Bikeriders,’” Butler said. “It’s the roaring engines and the smell of grease that we got to be around. It was nice to go to something that felt more independent and play in that space for a bit.”
He continued, “But one of the things I was thinking about earlier, when you were talking about that relaxation on set, was that Tom Hardy surprised me. I pictured him to be this grizzly bear, always serious. And really, he’s one of the funniest people I’ve ever met. He’d be joking around until action is called, and then go into being the most intense guy I’d ever seen. It reminds me of the stories I heard of (Marlon) Brando, talking to the camera operator until the moment action is called.”
Oscar-nominated “Elvis” star Butler added, “I learned a lot from Tom. It reminds me of you, where you can be in that relaxed place where you’re receptive to your environment, and then when the time comes, you can click into what the scene demands.”
Butler trained on motorcycles “every day” during a break from “Dune: Part Two” production to fully embody his “Bikeriders” role.
“To get to ride motorcycles through Cincinnati, through these cornfields, it was just amazing,” Butler said. “You know what that feels like, where the wind is in your hair. You feel like you’re mainlining God.”
He concluded, “There’s such a trust as well, when we’d be in these groups of 40, riding bikes down a tiny road, and you’re thinking, ‘If anybody were to crash right now, all of us would go down.’ And we’re not wearing helmets, riding through cornfields as fast as we can. I don’t know how they insured the film, to be honest. And you’re riding behind a picture car as well, it’s kicking up pebbles in your face, so you’re getting hit in the eyes with rocks. It was so visceral. It was a great group.”
“The Bikeriders” was set for a December release but has since been shelved due to the ongoing SAG-AFTRA strike.
Director Nichols previously told IndieWire that Hardy would “mess with” Butler on set.
“We had a big chunk in that bar and I’ve got Tom Hardy sitting in the corner. He had a good relationship with Austin but he would mess with him a little bit,” Nichols said. “We shoot the scene; when it comes time for Butler to sit down (opposite Comer), Tom says, ‘Turn the chair around, spin the chair,’ and Austin did it. And then he puts his arms up, I don’t know if he just rubbed butter on himself or what. We all knew we had something.”
Nichols summed up, “Tom doesn’t strike me as an actor, certainly not in the traditional sense. He’s like a force. He’s like a hurricane or a tornado. Like you sit back and watch. But then when you have all that he vibrates.”