Tom Hardy on being asked about sexuality at TIFF press conference: ‘That really, really annoyed me’

Tom Hardy is happy to answer any question – in the proper forum.

The British actor has found himself at the center of the pop culture zeitgeist after he shut down a reporter’s inquiry into his sexuality during a Sunday press conference at the Toronto International Film Festival.

Now, days later, Hardy is further explaining his abrupt response.

“That really, really annoyed me,” Hardy tells EW during a sit-down interview. “It was just the inelegance of being asked in a room full of people. […] Now I’m happy to have a conversation, a discussion, at a reasonable time about anything. I’m confident in my own sexuality, and I’m also confident in my own being and talking about any issue you want to talk about it. But there is a time and a place for that.”

Hardy was in Toronto over the weekend to promote the 1960s gangster film Legend, in which he portrays both notorious twin hoodlums Ronald and Reggie Cray. And while the first 28 minutes of the press conference were fairly uneventful, things took a turn when a reporter from LGBT news outlet Daily Xtra asked Hardy if it’s “hard for celebrities to talk to the media about their sexuality.” The line of questioning – which initially stemmed from Hardy’s portrayal of Ronald Cray, who is openly gay in the film – was soon tied into comments attributed to Hardy from a 2008 Attitude magazine piece. (“I’m an artist. I’ve played with everything and everyone. But I’m not into men sexually,” Hardy purportedly said at the time.)

“Are you asking me about my sexuality?” Hardy asked the reporter on Sunday. When he answered in the affirmative, Hardy responded, “Why?” before ending the interaction with a curt “Thank you.”

Hardy says he felt the question was asked only to elicit a salacious response. “I found it very humiliating for somebody to decide that on his dime and his time, to openly and inelegantly pursue a line of questioning which I could only sense at the moment — which was quite awkward — that it was zeroing in on a reaction from me that would become a topic of discussion that had nothing to do really, really to do with what was there.”

The interest in Hardy’s sexuality has been an online talking point since the Attitude quotes went viral in 2010. In the ensuing years, the 38-year-old has been asked about his sexuality often, and has responded repeatedly, in various levels of explicitness, that he is straight.

But it was the manner in which Hardy was asked about it on Sunday that the actor says felt like a real invasion of privacy. “It’s so important to the LGBT [community] that people actually feel safe about their sexuality and are able to speak freely and not be stigmatized or feel like they are being pointed out,” Hardy says. “Why point me out, assuming that I’m gay because I’m ambiguous about it, which I’m very clear if you look into what I’ve said in the past.”

Hardy adds that he feels badly for the reporter, whom he believes didn’t mean anything malicious by the question, yet he can’t seem to shake the interaction.

“I’m quite sensitive and I feel like I’ve let people down for something that I actually didn’t ask for, for something that’s important to a lot of people,” he says. “Should I come out of the closet when I’m not in one? I ought to maybe come out of the closet, even though that’s a lie, to do the right thing. Or, if I say no, then I’m homophobic? Bless him, he’s young. But at the same time, it left me feeling like I have to do something about that. And it’s like why? Whose business is it anyway and isn’t that the point?”

Hardy’s film Legend will open on Thanksgiving weekend. He will also appear in Alejandro Inarritu’s The Revenant, which will open Christmas Day.

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