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Delving Into FX’s Mysterious New Tom Hardy Series ‘Taboo’

Variety logo Variety 1/10/2017 Diane Gordon

The show must go on!

© Provided by Variety Tom Hardy was delayed as his plane was late arriving in Los Angeles on Monday, so a packed house at the DGA Theatre watched the first episode of his new FX series “Taboo” along with his castmates Oona Chaplin, David Hayman, Michael Kelly, and Tom Hollander without him. Director Kristofer Nyholm and executive producer/writer Steven Knight were also in attendance, along with network stars Alison Wright, Brit Lower, and Cuba Gooding Jr.

Hardy and his father Edward “Chips” Hardy came up with the idea for “Taboo,” in which Tom plays James Keziah Delaney, the estranged son of a man who went mad and died. When Delaney to Britain returns after being presumed dead for many years, his sudden reappearance and inheritance of a particular parcel of land further complicates the situation.

Steven Knight recalled his first meeting with Hardy. “It was a very open brief of an adventurer returning to London. Originally, it was set in 1890 but I’ve got a very specific interest in 1813-14 London when Britain was at war with the United States and France, and there were lots of conflicts within the government. I wanted to try to take a character into this explosion of conflict,” the writer explained. “When I met Tom, I’d just written the script for ‘Locke,’ and we talked about both projects. We did a deal where he would do ‘Locke’ if I did ‘Taboo.'”

Knight continued, “‘Taboo’ is a pre-Victorian story. In the Regency period, there was a great deal of hedonism. It’s very violent, promiscuous, and there’s plenty of drugs. We’re trying to make a period drama in which the characters are modern because I don’t think people as entities have changed in two or three hundred years: they’re angry, they’re in love, they’re not in love, they hate.”

Oona Chaplin plays James Delaney’s half-sister Zilpha. Chaplin zeroed in on the show’s visceral appeal: “It allows us to go deep into exploring the darkness that is so deliciously human. We’re all trying to be human and good and righteous. No! Let us stop for a second and really enjoy the filth, because that’s also us and we can’t negate it. We gotta own it!”

After the screening, guests headed to Soho House to mingle, and Tom Hardy chatted with friends on the back patio. The menu included a taco bar, a hearty dinner spread of beef, roasted potatoes, brussel sprouts, and specialty cocktails.

“Taboo” has its American TV premiere on FX Tuesday January 10th at 10pm. Executive producers are Ridley Scott and Kate Crowe for Scott Free, Tom Hardy and Dean Baker for Hardy Son & Baker, and Steven Knight, with Timothy Bricknell producing. “Taboo” is produced by Scott Free and Hardy Son & Baker for FX and BBC One with Sonar Entertainment distributing worldwide outside the U.K.

Early reviews for "Taboo": 

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