Tom Hardy thinks he would have ended up in jail if he hadn't become an actor.

The 'Inception' actor is currently one of Hollywood's hottest properties, but he admits his rise to the top was fraught with ''desperation'', reckless behaviour and addiction.

He told Total Film magazine: ''I was supported by an artistic family, a creative family, but my personal journey to becoming an actor was one of desperation. Like, 'This boy has to do something or he'll end up in jail!'

''And I'm very, very fortunate to be here today. My own personal story is exactly that - personal. But becoming an actor was not very far from what I was doing, but now I've found a medium where I can channel that into more constructive means, which is art and acting.

''As opposed to fantasising and acting out in the world, and causing all kinds of mayhem - which I don't do.''

The handsome British star confessed he got ahead of himself when he started landing roles fresh out of drama school and soon got caught up with the shady side of the film industry.

The 36-year-old star candidly explained: ''I was white-knuckling when I was younger. There are some people who are more susceptible and less susceptible to stimulus. And I was very reactionary. I don't have a lot of skin. I've learnt as I grow older to be less 'jumping' at everything.

''I had a brief stint with the Americans, with Hollywood, the movie industry, with 'Star Trek'. And the first year after drama school, I had 'Black Hawk Down' and 'Band of Brothers', and then 'Star Trek'. And I was like, 'This is it! Straight out of drama school, here we go!'

''But I had no idea of how to handle the industry, to interact with producers, executive producers, studios, even my fellow men! I was 24 - punching way above my weight. And it's taken being someone's dad, being divorced, going to rehab, having mortgages, playing different characters, doing theatre, waiting and then it not happening.''

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