Mad Max: Fury Road is ramping up to hit screens this weekend and fans cannot wait for this Summer blockbuster to open. With Tom Hardy taking over the iconic role of Max (previously played by Mel Gibson) and Charlize Theron joining as the equally iconic, powerful and bad-ass Furiosa, it’s no wonder this is one of the most anticipated movies of the year.
A couple weeks ago, director George Miller, Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron talked to us at the press conference about their roles, the stunts and going back into the Mad Max world.
Tom, the Max in this movie seems to be more broken than we’ve ever seen him before. Were you reflecting on all that he’s been through in the previous three movies?
TOM HARDY: I think he’s supposed to be broken, isn’t he? In many ways, he’s a broken-spirited man. We start off with Max in a hermetic lifestyle, in the beginning. He wants to be left alone. And then, we see him open up throughout the movie, connect with humanity around him, and be broken again, really. And then, he’s sent off into the Wasteland. I’m not sure quite where this fits into the films prior to it, but there was a succession of conversations about and around the world and mythology previous. George [Miller] wanted him to be broken, at the beginning, and then suitably broken again.
What did you think of the name Furiosa?
CHARLIZE THERON: Furiosa is a pretty bad-ass name. It’s funny, you get a name in a movie because that’s just what we do, socially. We have names. I don’t know if you’ve noticed. But in this case, I thought what was really interesting about the names we had was that the movie is so bare in its explanation about where these people come from and who they really are, and you really find them in the midst of the movement already, and I thought there was something really powerful about the name because it almost sets you up. You didn’t have to know anything about her. The name alone said it. Anything that was emotionally driving her was already represented in her name, and that was helpful. And it’s just a cool name.
Tom, what did you do to make this role your own?
TH: Initially, I was daunted because, obviously, Mad Max is synonymous with Mel Gibson, and is a much loved character by many people. At the same time, I was really excited to get the job because it’s always exciting to get a job, but it was also such a big fish to land. The other side of that was that everybody loves Mel as Max, and nobody is going to want me, at all. It’s like being a new boy at school, and set up for immediate failure. George not only created the car chase movie, he also created the post-apocalyptic movie, some 40 years ago. There was no real pressure to fill anybody’s shoes, or to be a new Mad Max, of any sort. I was inheriting a legacy, and had been chosen by George to translate his vision and character into the Mad Max world of today, which is further discovered and mined and pursued by George. That he asked me to come along and portray his Max, it was really just a question of doing what was asked of me to fully translate George’s vision, which is epic. It’s not just what you see in Fury Road, but behind Fury Road and laterally to Fury Road. There is an abundance of material, which is yet to reveal itself. So, I don’t think I brought anything new, as such, but the fact that I’m just a new actor in the fourth installment of the legacy, which once was Mel’s role and still is, rightly so. I’m just the new boy, who’s hopefully accepted.
Charlize, what was it like working with all of the women on this?
CT: I don’t get to make a lot of movies acting with this amount of women. I was surrounded by women, and it was a breath of fresh air for me. George has an innate understanding in what women represent in society, and he wanted that to reflect in a post-apocalyptic world in the most truthful way possible. We’re just women in this movie. We had a filmmaker that understood that the truth of women is powerful enough, and that we don’t want to be put on pedestals, or made to be super unnaturally strong and capable of doing things that we’re not capable of doing. But, what we are capable of doing is really interesting and really informs a story like this. The idea of creating a world and understanding that, obviously, you’re going to need us for procreation, but there’s so much more to it. I personally was so touched by this character. She’s about the most broken woman that you can imagine. In many ways, she’s been a disappointment, for what you would consider a woman to be, socially, and she ended up being discarded for that. She was stolen, as a young child, and brought into an environment where she was thrown into a breeding program. She was barren and couldn’t do the things that she was supposed to do as a woman. So, she ends up actually fulfilling her destiny, which is to just be her.
Do you feel like there are more roles for women in these bigger action movies now?
CT: Yes and no. I think it’s a complicated question to answer. It’s not so much the quantity. It’s just that we want good quality. There are women in these kind of movies, all the time. I remember there were these loud whispers going around town that George was going to re-imagine this world, and that he was going to create this female character who was going to stand right next to Max. And at first, you’re always like, “That’s awesome!” And then, you become a little bit skeptical and you’re like, “I’ve heard that before. And then, I’m going to be the chick that ends up in the back of the frame with the push-up bra and a wisp of hair in my mouth.” That’s why I shaved my head. I was like, “No wispy hair!” No. I’ve been doing this for awhile and I’ve made a real effort to try to veer away from those things. And then, I met George and there was just something about him that I really believed him. I believed that he wanted to do something that felt really truthful. And so, I think it’s in the quality of this role versus just being a girl in these movies. I think women are just eager to feel like they’re on an equal playing field. Well, let me speak for myself. I just don’t want to be put on a pedestal. I don’t want to be anything other than what I am. I want to just be a woman, but an authentic woman, whether it’s this genre, or any other genre. So, when you come across that rare filmmaker that really wants to embrace that and stick it through, it’s really nice. Should there be more of it? Hell, yeah! When these women come on screen, we all respond to them positively and they really get a reaction out of us. Why is that not enough of a reason for us to keep exploring that?
What was the most daunting stunt that you guys did yourselves?
TH: All of them, actually. I’m not very good with heights, so the scaffolding pole was hard. In Australia, they set something up my own private scaffolding pole in a car park. I went down there really jet-lagged and was like, “I really don’t want to go up the scaffolding pole!” It’s quite lonely up there. When the scaffolding pole goes one way, you naturally fall that way, as well. And then when it comes back to the middle, you have to roll around and fall the other way. And there’s no one up there to complain to. You just drift into the camera, and then drift away again. That was fun.
CT: I had a rough time with the scene where Max falls off the hood of the car, and Riley Keough and I have to grab ahold of him. It was on my mechanical arm, and I had no control over it, so I couldn’t really use my own body strength to hold Tom up. They just took my claw and stuck it into his pants. So, I was leaning out the window like, “This could be really bad!” Of course, I was concerned for Tom’s head hitting the ground, but at the same time, I was like, “I’m going with him. There’s not going to be a choice in the matter here. I’m hooked on him.” I was a bit of a pussy that day, for sure.
George, Why did you choose to make another Mad Max film?
GEORGE MILLER: It’s been on my mind since the last millennium, 1999, when the idea first came. I’d already made three Mad Max movies, so I didn’t really want to do another one. I had other things I wanted to do, but the idea came, I kept on pushing it away, it came back and grew and grew and I found myself saying, ‘I think we’ll be making another Mad Max movie.’ I just didn’t realize it would take more than 12 years to be here today with the finished movie.”
Mad Max: Fury Road opens May 15th and is rated R.