Why Patrick Stewart Knew Naked Tom Hardy Was Perfect For Star Trek

Patrick Stewart says he was won over by Tom Hardy's unique approach, in spite of seeing him partially nude in his audition tape.

By Michileen Martin | Updated

patrick stewart tom hardy

It was the younger actor’s unique approach and distinctiveness that convinced Patrick Stewart it was Tom Hardy who should play the younger version of Jean-Luc Picard in 2002’s Star Trek: Nemesis. In a new interview, Stewarts talks about why Hardy was perfect to play the villain Shinzon. The story also reveals that for at least part of his audition tape, the Venom star was in the nude.

According to ET Online, when Patrick Stewart watched Tom Hardy’s audition tape, the recording had more than just the audition. The tape included “antics” Hardy had filmed in a hotel room, some of which included “partial nudity.” The Dark Knight Rises star tried and failed to find a video editor to take out the antics, and sent it in as is.

Whatever those antics entailed, they apparently didn’t dissuade Patrick Stewart from feeling Tom Hardy was the right choice for Shinzon. “He had the sides of some of the Shinzon scenes, but he was improvising them,” Stewart recalled. “He wasn’t really doing what was in the script.”

“It certainly made us all sit up and pay attention,” Patrick Stewart said of his impression of Tom Hardy. “Tom is an extraordinary actor. Really, very distinctive. Very unique.”

Patrick Stewart had to feel confident about Tom Hardy because his performance would reflect on Stewart in a very literal sense. The villain of Nemesis is a Romulan-made clone of Stewart’s Jean-Luc Picard. Whatever plan the Romulans have for the clone is abandoned, and Shinzon is sent to live among the Remans — the slave caste of the Romulans.

patrick stewart tom hardy
Tom Hardy as Shinzon in Star Trek: Nemesis (2002)

The clone of Patrick Stewart’s hero manages to win the Remans under his rule and not only leads them out of slavery, but Tom Hardy’s villain affects a violent takeover of the Romulan Empire. He summons Picard to Romulus under the pretense of peace talks in Star Trek: Nemesis, but in fact, the clone is dying because of the imperfect science that created him and he needs Picard to save himself.

Regardless of both Patrick Stewart and Tom Hardy delivering solid performances in Nemesis, on most fronts, the film proved a failure. As the tenth Trek film, it earned the smallest box office in the history of the franchise, barely even making back its production cost. It would prove to be the final non-Kelvin-Timeline film so far.

A lot of fingers were pointed, including at director Stuart Baird who hasn’t helmed a feature film since. Although there’s an argument to be made that neither Stuart Baird, Patrick Stewart, Tom Hardy, nor anyone else involved could have done anything to save Star Trek: Nemesis. On one hand, the film was released a little over a week before The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers.

On the other, before Nemesis was released, the last Trek film had been 1998’s Star Trek: Insurrection. In the meantime, the world had seen Peter Jackson’s first Lord of the Rings adaptation and two of the Star Wars prequels. Particularly in the realm of special effects, it was the dawn of a new era in filmmaking for fantasy and science fiction properties, and in comparison, Nemesis felt like a holdover from the past.