Tom Hardy continues to add to his already-busy schedule as the “Dark Knight Rises” thesp is in talks to star in the Scott Free production “Child 44.”Daniel Espinosa is helming the pic, with Ridley Scott producing for Scott Free. Richard Price is penning the script based on the Tom Rob Smith novel. Story is set in the Stalin-era Soviet Union and follows a disgraced lawyer who is dispatched to investigate a series of child murders. Hardy is first expected to shoot the Fox Searchlight pic “Animal Rescue” with Noomi Rapace in March, followed by “Child 44.” Over the past year, the CAA- and United Agents-repped Hardy has begun an ascent into leading-man status. After strong supporting roles in “Inception,” “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” and “The Dark Knight Rises,” Hardy is next set to star as Mad Max in Warner Bros.’ “Mad Max: Fury Road,” which bows later this year.