Hardy is currently neck and neck with Idris Elba as the man to replace Daniel Craig as teh UK’smost famous action hero.
But in a shock new interview he just confessed that the idea of taking on another huge role may no longer hold much appeal.
Hardy said: “What is it that draws you to the craft? At this age, I don’t know anymore. I’ve kind of had enough.
“If I’m being brutally honest, I want to go on with my life.”
The actor was speaking to Esquire magazine on both sides of the Atlantic for the September issue when he made the shock revelation.
Hardy is notorious for choosing projects that require enormous physical and mental strength.
He added: “You’ve summited Everest. It’s a miracle that you’ve made it anywhere near the f***ing mountain, let alone climbed it. Do you want to go all the way back and do it again? Or do you want to get off the mountain and go f***ing find a beach?
The British star has just turned 40 and is reflecting on priorities, including his growing responsibilities to his family – wife Charlotte Riley and their young two-year-old child.
A gruelling succession of roles have taken their toll. High profile but punishing projects have included Charles Bronson in Bronson, the Kray Twins in Legend, John Fitzgerald in The Revenant, Bane in The Dark Knight Rises and Max Rockatansky in Mad Max: Fury Road.
The modern incarnation of James Bond is already reputed to be just as punishing, and Craig himself made no bones about it.
Hardy also confided to Esquire UK that his body was finding it harder to cope with such demands.
He said: “By the time you’re 40 you get harder action heroes. I’m absolutely broken now! Why didn’t you give me this 10 years ago?
“My knee’s gone, the nerves are shot, I’m getting white hair… I’ve got battle scars from rubbing my nose in the wrong places, banging heads with the wrong people, being difficult or whatever it is.”
Memories are still vivid of Daniel Craig’s dramatic declaration after SPECTRE that he would “rather slit my wrists” than put himself through such a punishing process again.
Would Hardy really be willing to do the same or is this the clearest sign yet that Elba and Hiddleston are the front-runners now?