Christopher Nolan is known for his dark style and epic films, but he's also known for obscuring Tom Hardy's very handsome face.
He did it in The Dark Knight Rises and he did it again in Dunkirk. Even in his non-Nolan roles, Hardy's mug is often covered up with a big beard (The Revenant) and other hardware (Mad Max: Fury Road). Entertainment Tonight reports that Nolan explained the thinking behind his unique approach to Hardy's face, saying that the actor is up to the challenge of performing through the accessories.
"I was pretty thrilled with what he did in The Dark Knight Rises with two eyes and couple of eyebrows and a bit of forehead," Nolan told the Press Association. "So I thought, 'Let’s see what he can do with no forehead, no real eyebrows, maybe one eye.'"
The cheeky response may explain why Hardy's role in Dunkirk involves a mask, though the character being a Royal Air Force pilot may be part of why he's got the hardware, too. Whatever he's got on his face, Hardy has proved time and again that he can handle it and act through the masks, despite them cutting off some (or most) of his face.
"Of course Tom, being Tom, what he does with single eye acting is far beyond what anyone else can do with their whole body," Nolan continued. "That is just the unique talent of the man, he's extraordinary."
That's some high praise coming from Nolan, who has definitely developed a friendly relationship with Hardy after working together so many times. That professional connection could be why Hardy seems to be a go-to for the director. Nolan also told ET that a few of his other casting choices, like Heath Ledger as the Joker and Harry Styles' role in Dunkirk, were seen as publicity stunts, even though he insists that he was going with his instincts.