Tom Hardy On His Love Letter To London, His Dog Blue & The Cologne He’s Always Asked About

By Ashleigh Cometti
Tom Hardy was commissioned by Jo Malone London for its new fragrance film, which highlights Cypress & Grapevine Cologne Intense.

The actor and producer is the creative force behind Jo Malone London’s latest campaign for Cypress & Grapevine Cologne Intense, a scent Tom calls ‘classic, vintage and earthy’.

The saying goes: “Never work with friends or family”.

But for actor Tom Hardy, there was one person who immediately sprang to

Commissioned by the brand to create a film that both visualised fragrance and captured the essence of London and its many idiosyncrasies, the born-and-bred Londoner embraced the challenge of bringing his city to life on screen, alongside Chips and acclaimed director Edward Berger.

A tricky feat, to squeeze a story into 60 seconds when you’re used to starring in feature-length films, but one that the star of The Bikeriders embraced with the same level of self-assuredness he brings to every film set.

It’s previously uncharted territory for Tom, whose illustrious film career spans more than two decades and has seen him star alongside the likes of Leonardo DiCaprio, Charlize Theron and Morgan Freeman. However, Tom says it was refreshing to be approached as an artist and a creator, as opposed to a personality.

The fragrance film is an exploration of London at nightfall, highlighting the exceptional and contradictory characters that call the city home — a story which is underpinned by the lingering scent trail of Jo Malone London’s Cypress & Grapevine Cologne Intense in the air.

In this Viva exclusive, Tom shares how his signature scent helped him get into his creative flow, what it’s really like working with a family member, and how his perception of London translates on screen.

Congratulations on your role as Jo Malone London ambassador for Cypress & Grapevine Cologne Intense. You don’t typically take on many commercial roles. Tell us why you decided to work with Jo Malone London?

I don’t usually get involved in commercials and adverts because I prefer acting and playing different characters. However, Jo Malone London initially reached out about a collaboration due to my affiliation with a charity that I am a trustee of called REORG, which uses Brazilian Ju-jitsu and CrossFit to support mental health and physical wellbeing for veterans, serving military and first responders.

So, we had a conversation and during that time they asked if I would be interested in collaborating on a project, a creative endeavour for Cypress & Grapevine Cologne Intense.

This allowed me to engage with my father, Chips Hardy, and the brilliant director Edward Berger to collaborate with. We collectively share a mutual desire to give back and make a difference where it counts, so partnering with them was a lovely blend of alchemies and shared intentions.

As well as starring in the campaign, you also collaborated with Jo Malone London on the concept and brought your father and director Edward Berger on board. How did you all together go about conceptualising the campaign film?

Jo Malone London has a very familial vibe, so they were very encouraging and allowed me to engage my father in helping create the campaign film, which was brilliant fun for us both. We can’t tell you how valuable it is to enjoy the process of making an advert in the way they were once made.

I had long been a fan of Edward Berger’s work, so I called him to see if he would be interested in working on this project with us. He was delighted to come on board, followed by cinematographer James Friend and composer Volker Bertelman, and of course the creative team at Jo Malone London. .

The campaign idea began when Jo Malone London first introduced us to the concept of London as inspiration, alongside Cypress & Grapevine Cologne Intense. Our collective aim was to align Jo Malone London’s London with our London to show what has made the city special to us. To observe and reflect, with London being the playground to explore.

One of the unique things about London is that it’s an open city. A place where one can be both anonymous and connected at the same time. I believe that something like 300 languages are spoken in London, so there’s a melting pot of individuals who come and live here. Yet, for all the dichotomies, idiosyncrasies and differences that make up London’s big city life, there’s an inherent connection between Londoners that’s both profound and, I think, quite beautiful.

Similarly, the Jo Malone London fragrances are designed to be for everyone. Although it might seem illogical for certain ingredients to blend — like Cypress & Grapevine, which aren’t typical partners — they work. So, we built on this idea of London having this enormous repertoire of people all happy to be London in their own way, which has become almost a love letter to the city.

How is your London reflected in the film?

We had this enormous privilege of being almost let loose on London to try to convey that feeling of freedom and complexity in the city. This sense of place where everyone, regardless of their differences, contributes to the city’s life.

If you look at London as a matrix, you will always see a mix of unlikely things going on. It is complex, often contradictory, yet connected by intersecting oppositions. It was these juxtapositions and paradoxes that interested us. The idea was to explore those contradictions in the celebratory and connecting manner they deserved.

We eventually arrived at the final idea of “the exceptional and contradictory”, almost a “London at Play”. This notion of people making their way home after a night out while others are just beginning their journeys. Building on surprising connections, differences and backstories. It carries a celebratory feel to it, while showcasing a vibrant array of people coming out and coming together.

Why was it decided to set the campaign at night?

It was a collaborative decision creatively for us, serving as a vehicle to showcase this beautiful mix of people crossing paths during a typical London evening, each going their own way yet still very much connected. A side of London people might not always see.

Personally, I experience two distinct Londons. One is the London I enjoy just as much as any tourist might, from the Tower of London to the Natural History Museum, to the old oil lamps and cobbled streets. Then there’s London at night. I feel London becomes most engaging at night. When it’s quiet, you realise just how small the city really is.

How does scent come into the campaign?

We were intrigued by the challenge of visualising a fragrance. It was exciting trying to understand how fragrance flows, how it takes to the air, how it takes to the senses, how it can impact us.

How do you make a scent visible on screen? It was all part of the game for us. You almost want to smell the advert. When thinking about this idea of scent, both my father and I landed on this notion of “there’s something in the air”.

Both the challenge and opportunity lie in the fact that you are dealing with the many intangible elements of fragrance. You need to create an impression of what it does, what it feels like, what it feels like to wear, to smell.

What we tried to do was use the real atmosphere of London at night and the experience of that journey in order to experience what the fragrance could give you and the type of fragrance it is. It’s an evocation rather than a depiction.

How did this experience differ from your usual roles?

People often emerged from advertising to make big movies, so advertising always held a certain prestige for me as a place to learn the craft of film-making. Plus, my father has been creating ad campaigns since the 70s, so it’s been an interest of mine for a while. It was wonderful to come full circle. And then when you get someone like Edward Berger involved, well, you’re making a movie.

It’s a real challenge to tell a story in 60 seconds. You’re confined to such short timeframes, which was initially daunting but ultimately turned into a great mental game. It was fun intellectually making a movie on a micro level.

Cypress & Grapevine Cologne Intense is the hero scent behind this campaign. What were your first impressions of the scent?

I’m funny about fragrance, I can’t just buy it off the shelf, I’m not really that way inclined. I think that a good fragrance has to exist without being overbearing and have an assimilation to the human being that is wearing it.

To me, Cypress & Grapevine Cologne Intense has this wonderful classic, vintage and earthy scent. A lot of people who have smelt it on me have asked what it is. Even my 16-year-old also grabbed my bottle, so even the kids like it!

How important is scent to you? Tell us about some of your scent memories.

I think smell and scent is the precursor to understanding a room or where you are in space and time. I have a palette of memories that are evoked by smells. From the smell of the forearm of my mother and father, a dusty pillow, a dry barn in the sunshine.

Smells can be nostalgic, they can influence the atmosphere, they can manipulate, conjure and change the dynamic of an experience very quickly without being seen.

Finally, like us, we know you’re a big fan of dogs. Where did your love of dogs come from?

My granddad, Ray. He had a dog named Louie. When I was little, I always wanted to cuddle up to Louie and he was having none of it because he was my granddad’s dog. I used to look at the way granddad and his dog were — I didn’t have any brothers or sisters — and I wanted someone to hang out with me like that so I would always have a companion.

The dog is a very interesting creature. They are all heart and very honest. Pure unconditional love. I wish I could be simple like that.

We take it you would be keen on a dog grooming range then?

I think it’s an absolute essential to have a dog grooming range! I would head up any design opportunity to get involved in that! Kennel spray! That would be great. Sign me up, and my dog Blue. Which is perfect because French bulldogs snore and fart, so scented things for Blue are ideal.

Jo Malone London Cypress & Grapevine Cologne Intense is priced at $264 for 50ml, or $380 for 100ml, and is available from the Jo Malone London Britomart boutique and at selected department stores including Smith & Caughey’s or online at

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