Though the odds-on favorite to take the Best Supporting Actor Oscar this Sunday night is Sylvester Stallone for his rousing reprisal of Rocky Balboa, much praise has been heaped upon his fellow nominee Tom Hardy. Hardy earned his first Academy Award nomination for his portrayal of the amoral John Fitzgerald, who shoots our man Hugh Glass (Leonardo DiCaprio) and leaves him for dead. But now it’s Hardy’s turn to make an auspicious return from beyond the veil, this time as James Keziah Delaney, the man at the center of FX’s new historical crime drama, Taboo. As the newly unveiled trailer above explains, he had been presumed deceased after relocating to Africa, but his father’s death summons him back to London. And, like most people who return home following greatly exaggerated death-rumors, he’s got some scores to settle.
This prodigal son makes his reappearance to take the reins of his father’s modest shipping company, but if you’ll believe such a thing, wielding uncommon power actually brings the main character of this prestige cable drama more danger and internal conflict than anything else. Which is a cheeky way of saying that though FX’s newest offering arrives clad in elaborate period-appropriate garb, it fits snugly into the recent trend of Difficult Man dramas. Instead of rival gangs, James will face off against the British East India Company, an old shipping conglomerate characterized by creator Steven Knight as a combination of the CIA, the NSA, and the massive international corporations pulling strings worldwide.
And of course a program with this level of cinematic ambition would need a pedigree to match. Knight has already collaborated with Hardy on 2014’s excellent indie Locke and the series Peaky Blinders, another thickly-accented crime saga in olden-times Britain. (Fun, slightly adorable fact: Knight and executive producer Ridley Scott are working from a short story that Hardy penned with his dad, whose name is Chips.) Noted Welsh thespian Jonathan Pryce joins Hardy as his co-star, with Game Of Thrones star Oona Chaplin in the female lead. The trailer embedded above is mighty impressive, from Hardy’s stolid acting to the laborious art design, but audiences will have to wait until at least 2017 to get a closer look. Until then, we can kill time poring over our Indecipherable-English-Brogue-To-Actual-Speech translation books.