Tom Hardy has never felt ''manly''.

The 'Locke' actor claims he has been intimidated by macho men with bulging muscles for as long as he can remember and even used to avoid the gym because he was so paranoid.

He told the new issue of America's Esquire magazine: ''I have always been frightened with men. To the point where I couldn't go into a gym because of the testosterone and I felt weak.

''I don't feel very manly. I don't feel rugged and strong and capable in real life, not how I imagine a man ought to be.''

The British star revealed his fear causes him to choose ultra manly roles like Bane in Christopher Nolan's 'The Dark Knight Rises' because he wants to understand how the other half lives.

Tom explained: ''I seek it, to mimic it and maybe understand it, or maybe to draw it into my own reality. People who are scary, they terrify me, but I can imitate them.

''I'm not a fighter. I'm a petit little bourgeois boy from London. I don't fight, I mimic.''

The 36-year-old actor also touched upon his past struggle with addiction, explaining he is grateful that he has learnt from the experience in a positive way.

He said: ''I am f***ing lucky to be here, to be honest. Any near-death experience - if you're lucky enough to f***ing realise that it is one - is going to leave an indelible mark on you.

''And then you add shame and guilt and fear into that, it's a recipe for awareness if you have the ability to become aware from it. And good things can come back into your life.''