Hardy made his debut in the Ridley Scott film Black Hawk Down (2001), and has since had notable roles in films such as Star Trek: Nemesis (2002), RocknRolla (2008), Bronson (2008), Warrior (2011), Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011), Lawless (2012), Locke (2013), The Drop (2014), and The Revenant (2015), for which he received a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. In 2015, Hardy portrayed "Mad" Max Rockatansky in Mad Max: Fury Road and both Kray twins in Legend. He has also appeared in three Christopher Nolan films: Inception (2010), as Bane in The Dark Knight Rises (2012), and Dunkirk (2017). In 2018, he will play Eddie Brock/Venom in a live-action film adaptation of the same name.
Hardy's television roles include the HBO war drama miniseries Band of Brothers (2001), the BBC historical drama miniseries The Virgin Queen (2005), ITV's Wuthering Heights (2008), the Sky 1 drama series The Take (2009), and the BBC historical crime drama series Peaky Blinders (2013 –2017). He created, co-produced, and took the lead in the eight-part historical fiction series Taboo (2017) on BBC One and FX.
Hardy has performed on both British and American stages. He was nominated for the Laurence Olivier Award for Most Promising Newcomer for his role as Skank in the production of In Arabia We'd All Be Kings (2003), and was awarded the 2003 London Evening Standard Theatre Award for Outstanding Newcomer for his performances in both In Arabia We'd All Be Kings and for his role as Luca in Blood. He starred in the production of The Man of Mode (2007) and received positive reviews for his role in the play The Long Red Road (2010).
Hardy is active in charity work and is an ambassador for the Prince's Trust. He was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2018 Birthday Honours for services to drama.