Sweeney Todd - coming soon on BBC ONE
Tom Hardy is Matthew Payne
Tom Hardy plays Matthew Payne, the upstanding Bow Street Runner, who owes his life to Sweeney.
Describing his latest role, Hardy says: "Matthew is young and athletic, but also a particular breed of person.
"When you consider how dangerous life was in general in those days, choosing a career in law enforcement was a seriously risky job, especially for a married man like Matthew who is father to two small children.
"Law enforcement wasn't a remotely touchy-feely occupation; it was about seeing people hang (for crimes they might or might not have committed). Death and depravity was widespread and sending offenders off to the colonies was acceptable practice.
"The police force was new, and methods were rough and ready – a good beating was often meted out to wrongdoers.
"All of which means I see him as a scrapper, a guy who likes a good fight
but equally has a burning zeal to do right. So I'm playing him as a mixture of an Edinburgh award winner and hood rapper," laughs Hardy.
Explaining more about what makes his character tick, he says: "While he's naturally inquisitive and good at finding things out, in Sweeney's case his instincts are all wrong.
"Matthew cannot help but befriend Sweeney after the barber saves his life, when he operates on the young law enforcer and removes a bullet from his shoulder. I think it's a terrific section of the story and reminds us all how barbers often carried out surgical procedures - and without anaesthetic or antiseptic!
"It calls for great bravery on Matthew's part and steadfast courage on Sweeney's. It's no wonder that Matthew is eternally grateful to his barber saviour – especially when you consider that stepping on a rusty nail could finish you off in those days! It's understandable that after this life-saving episode, Matthew fails to recognise Sweeney as a killer."
Hardy's enthusiasm about playing opposite Winstone is evident.
"He's a legend – he is a Londoner, and perfect for Sweeney Todd. I can't believe I'm working with him - I grew up watching Scum and Ray is The Daddy!
"It doesn't get any better than Ray Winstone. He's one of the most generous actors in the business and brilliant to watch in action – even when he's scary."
As the New Year arrives, so does Tom Hardy on BBC ONE. Viewers can see him next in the much-anticipated The Virgin Queen, in which he stars as Robert Dudley, lover to Queen Elizabeth I (played by Anne Marie Duff).
This performance is followed with a leading role in Stephen Poliakoff's Gideon's Daughter, in which Tom is a whiz-kid PR who works with Gideon (played by Bill Nighy) and is in awe of the older man's apparent guru-like wisdom.
Hardy's credits include the critically-acclaimed West End production of Festen, as well as such high-profile productions as Black Hawk Down, Band of Brothers, Layer Cake, Colditz and Star Trek: Nemesis.