Hold on to your seat because Mad Max: Fury Road is one ride you won’t want to get off of. Director George Miller returns to the screen with the very much-anticipated post-apocalyptic world of road warriors; Mad Max: Fury Road.
Max Rockatansky is now played by Tom Hardy. The role was originally played by Mel Gibson about thirty years ago. When you first see the movie you get the sense that Max is being haunted by his past therefore chooses to wander alone. In a series of events Max ends up fleeing from the itadel driving a war rig through the wasteland with Furiosa, played by Charlize Theron. Furiosa is escaping the Citadel with some precious cargo that belongs to the Immortan Joe, played by Hugh Keays-Byrne. Infuriated he rounds up all his gangs and sets forth an intense war that leaves you vibrating.
This movie is a good continuation from the first three Mad Max films, yet it’s contemporary. How were you able to do that?
Miller: Thank you for acknowledging that because it’s so hard to do that. If we’re going to go back to this world, you surely can’t do what you did 30 years ago, but it had to be uniquely familiar. It’s like going back to your home town but seeing it through new eyes. Everything had changed in 30 years. The world had changed. Cinema had changed. Technology changed and this was an opportunity to blend all of that together. Mad Max 2 had 1,200 cuts. This has 2,700 cuts and it’s not much longer than other film…. Although we had to shoot much of it old school, with the digital advancements, we were able to do so much. One of the most common uses of CGI in the movie was to change the color of the sky. I hope I was able to improve on the last movies after 30 years or else I haven’t learned anything.
The movie shoot was in the middle of nowhere.
Miller: I wanted to shoot near my home in the Outback of Australia and we were rained out with unprecedented rain. We had to go from the east coast of Australia and take all of our equipment and the cast and crew and go to the west coast of Africa – Namibia.
Action really drives the movie, but the music is an important element as well.
Miller: I don’t know if you guys know Junkie XL who composed this. It’s Junkie XL, aka Tom Holkenborg and this is the first movie where he’s taken a credit. Believe it or not when I started this movie, I intended to have no music except for the sound of the cars and the guitarist and the drummers. As the movie started to evolve in the cutting room, I realized this was almost a rock opera, but it really needed a composer who knew how to do this. I had never even heard of him before. We tried some music that had been written for other movies that hadn’t been used and it just fit. I don’t know if you know Tom, but he studied law. He lectured in sound design in Holland. He started a faculty there. He’s got the full symphonic ability. Whatever you throw at him, he has the intellectual capacity and the artistic capacity to deal with it. He was just the right person for this movie. He glued so much of this movie together and modulated the passages through the movie. It’s very visual music. He’s a great composer. And a great guy. When you have someone who can explain what music is, how it’s almost mathematical in the way it’s structured, that was really exciting for me.
Tom, Max in this movie seems more broken than he’s ever been before. Were you reflecting on all he’s been through in the previous three movies (starring Mel Gibson as Mad Max) or is that a new take on the character? And also, do you have sympathy for a villain in a mask the whole movie?
Hardy: I do like a mask (he wore one as villain Bane in The Dark Knight Rises). Not going to lie. So it was nice to get a new one. I think Max is supposed to be broken in a lot of ways. He kind of wanted to be left alone and then we see him open up throughout the movie and then be broken again and sent into the wasteland. George wanted him to be broken from the beginning.
Tom, you did a lot to make this movie your own after the several films with Mel Gibson as Max. How did you approach creating your version of Max?
Hardy: Initially, I was daunted because Mad Max is synonymous with Mel Gibson, who is much-loved by many people. At the same time, I was really excited to get the job because it was a big fish to land. It was like being the new boy at school, and set up for failure immediately. But having said that, George has created the post-apocalyptic movie 40 years ago, so there wasn’t any real pressure to be a new Max, so to speak. I was inheriting a legacy to transcend the character in my own way. George asked me to come along and portray his Max. So I just did what was asked for me. Behind Fury Road, there is an abundance of material that has yet to reveal itself. I don’t know that I brought anything new, other than I’m just a new actor. I’m just a new boy, and hopefully accepted.
Charlize, do you agree that this should be called Mad Maxine because you’re the baddest person on-screen? And can you talk about what was so irresistible about this awesome adventure?
Theron: I find myself in the last couple of days talking about this movie and realizing more than ever about how fortunate I was to have George trust me in this role. You’re only as good as the opportunities handed your way and Mad Maxine? Tom, what do you think of that?
Hardy: We actually found a dog, and her name was Maxine. You remember that Pug on the set?
Theron: I do remember the dog. You named her Mad Maxine? That’s awesome! The movie is so bare in its explanation of who they are. So you find yourself in the midst of the action already. So I found something really powerful about name. You didn’t even need to know anything about her. You were drawn to her because of the name. So anything that was driving her was already represented by her name. And it’s such a cool name.
Charlize, when we see you in a commercial on TV, you look so glamorous. Did you have to be dragged to the chair to get your head shaved for this role? What was that experience like, and do you recommend it?
Theron: I didn’t get dragged to it. As an actor, you’re just trying to fit into the world, and I didn’t know how to fit into this world. We weren’t trying to hide her as a woman, but she really melted into this underworld mechanics place where she was almost forgotten as a woman. I wanted something that could kind of disappear and I didn’t know how to do that with a ponytail. My hair was really fried so I asked George if I should shave my head. He was really quiet, and took a deep breath and I found out yesterday that he was very concerned about the shape of my head and 45 minutes later, it was off, and we sent a selfie to George, and he was ‘Awesome’. With hair, I was 20 minutes early to everything in my life. It’s amazing how much time we spend on our hair. There was something very freeing about that. It’s nice to think about your femininity, and have it mean more than just your hair. But it’s also so nice to have hair.
Nick, you went through a transformation to play psychopathic Nuz. How did you prepare for that?
Hoult: George did a great job of preparing me for the role, and explaining what that world would be like. He’d send me videos chronicling my character’s life. At that point, I had a great idea of what the character was like. I just tried to listen to him on set. Quite an extreme atmosphere (African wasteland) that felt so real. It was really easy to get swept up in it.
This film has a bunch of cool women in it and most action movies don’t. Can you talk about that?
Theron: I don’t get to make a lot of movies with this many women. I was surrounded by women, so that was a breath of fresh air for me. I knew George has an innate understanding of what women represent in society, and he wanted that to be reflected in a post-apocalyptic world in the most truthful way possible. It’s interesting having people tell us we’re strong women, and we’re just women. The truth is that women are powerful enough, and we don’t need to be put on pedestals. What we’re capable of doing is amazing, and is special for a story like this, especially.
Mad Max Fury Road hits theaters May 15.