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Government drops actor over drug revelations

By Lunar Loops, Nov 13, 2006 | |
  1. Lunar Loops
    This from The Telegraph (UK):
    Government drops actor over drug revelations


    By Chris Hastings, Arts and Media Editor

    Last Updated: 12:19am GMT 12/11/2006





    One of Britain's brightest young stars of stage and screen has been banned by the Government from talking to schoolchildren after he went public about his former life as a drink and drugs addict.
    Tom Hardy, 29, who starred in the TV series Band of Brothers and The Virgin Queen, was due to talk about his life and work to pupils as part of a project called London Schools Masterclass, funded by the Department for Education and Skills (DfES).
    But the DfES has pulled the plug on the event after he described a misspent youth, characterised by "drug abuse, drinking, violent behaviour and robbery".
    Hardy, who now has a successful acting career after turning his life around, had disclosed how a youthful flirtation with heavy drinking, illegal drugs and crime destroyed his first marriage and almost cost him his life.
    "From a very young age I was flagrantly disobedient," he said. "I got involved in anything that was naughty. I wanted to explore all the dark corners of the world, partly to see if I could control it."
    Hardy, a former public school pupil, admitted in a newspaper interview last week how in his "f****d up" teens he went through every form of bad behaviour "from tattoos through to drug abuse, drinking, violent behaviour robbery, carrying guns — all symptoms of self-hatred".
    Within 48 hours of the article appearing, Hardy — who has never made a secret of his past — was informed about the DfES's disapproval after a publicity firm working on behalf of the department left him a message on his answering machine at home.
    It said: "Unfortunately, we have had some bad news back from the Department of Education. They would like to delay going ahead with our masterclass scheduled for November 24 as a result of the article that appeared earlier this week in the Evening Standard. Their policy team are rather nervous about the reaction to that and some of your revelations, so unfortunately they have put a hold on things for the moment."
    Hardy and fellow members of his Shotgun Theatre Company were due to speak to pupils from 10 schools at a venue in south London as part of the DfES initiative. The company runs programmes designed to help disadvantaged groups write their own material, for film, television and the theatre.
    The star, whose credits also include Stephen Poliakoff's BBC drama Gideon's Daughter, and the starring role in the forthcoming National Theatre production of The Man of Mode, said: "The Shotgun team are very disappointed by the decision to cancel the event, which seemed to me quite bureaucratic and quite puritan. All we are interested in is giving something back to the community.
    "We wanted the kids to feel the pleasure and fulfilment we feel as professional performers. If we can help any child leave school with a sense of purpose and usefulness, then that has to be a good thing.
    "I don't want to get in a fight with the DfES. I just want to be able to carry on with our programme. I am still hoping to visit a number of prisons and I hope one day soon we will be allowed to take the work to schoolchildren."
    He said the newspaper interview was about recovery and was proof that he had put the problems of his past behind him. In any case he had spoken to event organisers about his troubled past.
    Hardy told The Sunday Telegraph that he understood the DfES had been particularly disturbed by the reference to shotguns and the revelation that he had once collapsed in a Soho street after enjoying "a crack pipe".
    "I have been lucky since I got my life back on track and I have had some wonderful opportunities," he added.
    The DfES, which funds the London Masterclass Initiative, last night confirmed that the event had been cancelled. A spokesman said: "A London Schools Masterclass, which was at an exploratory stage, has been cancelled due to problems finding a venue and finding schools to take part."
    Hardy said he found the DfES's explanation "hilarious". "This is news to me," he added. "They have been very keen to pin me down for the 24th. I know a masterclass devoted to snooker was a success. So I find it hard to believe one dedicated to film, television and theatre wouldn't generate interest."

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