Visionary isn’t enough to describe director George Miller, the man who had to work as an emergency room doctor to introduce us to the jaw-dropping “Mad Max” film franchise in 1979. He brought the hellish post-apocalypse future of Australia to the big screen and helped turn Mel Gibson into a global superstar. A few decades later, Miller returned to the driver’s seat as he reintroduced the world he first envisioned through his latest film, “Mad Max: Fury Road“.
Directed, produced, and co-written by Miller, the movie is the 4th instalment of the “Mad Max” franchise and it takes place after the events of the 3rd “Mad Max” film titled, “Beyond Thunderdome” (1985). “The Drop” actor Tom Hardy is starring in the film as Max Rockatansky, a character originally played by Gibson. The movie also stars Charlize Theron, Hugh Keays-Byrne, Nicholas Hoult, Nathan Jones, Zoe Kravitz, Riley Keough, and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley.
The official synopsis is as follows:
Haunted by his turbulent past, Mad Max believes the best way to survive is to wander alone. Nevertheless, he becomes swept up with a group fleeing across the Wasteland in a War Rig driven by an elite Imperator, Furiosa. They are escaping a Citadel tyrannized by the Immortan Joe, from whom something irreplaceable has been taken. Enraged, the Warlord marshals all his gangs and pursues the rebels ruthlessly in the high-octane Road War that follows.
From badass characters to stunning visuals and mind-boggling action scenes, here are some of the things you might not know about “Mad Max: Fury Road”
1. It is not a reboot or a prequel
Fans of the original “Mad Max” trilogy will be pleased to hear this.
Contrary to popular belief, “Mad Max: Fury Road” is neither a reboot/remake nor a prequel. It is said to be a sequel that takes place 30 years after the 3rd film. To be more precise, Miller called it “a revisit” as it helped relaunch the post-apocalyptic world first envisioned by himself.
2. Health Ledger was originally courted to play Max
During an interview with The Daily Beast, Miller revealed that Australian actor Heath Ledger was originally courted for the role of Max. However, Ledger passed away a few months after he finished filming his performance as the Joker in Christopher Nolan’s “The Dark Knight” (2008).
Every time Heath (Ledger) would come through Sydney, he’d call in and we’d chat about Max. He had that same thing that Mel and Tom Hardy have—that maleness, charisma, and restless energy, which you need to play a relatively still character. The world lost someone great when he went. Tom (Hardy) was the next to walk through the door that had that vibe.
Liam Fountain, who played Max in 2011’s short film “Mad Max Renegade”, also auditioned for the role but ultimately lost the part to Tom Hardy.
3. Capable married the stuntman of Coma the Doof Warrior aka the guitar-wielding man in real life
One of the “Five Wives” named “Capable” is portrayed by Riley Keough, the daughter of Lisa Marie Presley and musician Danny Keough, as well as the eldest granddaughter of Elvis and Priscilla Presley.
She made her film debut via 2010’s “The Runaways”, a biographical drama based on the 1970s all-girl rock band of the same name. She also portrayed a stripper in the original “Magic Mike” movie. She then began dating her “Magic Mike” co-star Alex Pettyfer and became briefly engaged to him.
On 14th August 2014, the actress took to Facebook to announce her engagement to Ben Smith-Petersen, a stuntman who portrays Coma the Doof Warrior aka the blind guitarist (played by Sean Hape) as seen in Miller’s movie. The 2 met on set of “Mad Max: Fury Road”, which began filming in 2012.
They married earlier in February this year in Napa, California.
4. Charlize Theron had to wear a wig in “A Million Ways to Die in The West” due to her role in “Mad Max: Fury Road”
Charlize Theron prided herself on her bouncy blonde hair, but she had to ditch her signature look for her role in “Mad Max: Fury Road”. The Oscar-winning actress was forced to shave her head to portray Imperator Furiosa in Miller’s movie.
In the midst of filming the “Mad Max” film, she had a few projects under her belt, including the filming of Seth MacFarlane’s “A Million Ways to Die in the West“. As she was still sporting the shaven head, she had to wear a wig for her role in MacFarlane’s movie.
5. Over 80% of the stunts and action sequences are real
One of the many reasons why we are so impressed with this movie is because more than 80% of the effects in the movie are real. Miller applied real practical effects, stunts, make-up, and sets because when he first started the “Mad Max” franchise, CGI was yet to be developed.
Now that he has returned, he made sure that CGI was only used to enhance the Namibian landscape and remove stunt rigging. It was used for Theron’s left arm, which in the film was a prosthetic arm.
6. Miller hired “The Vagina Monologues” writer Eve Ensler to consult
Miller made sure that women in the film are represented with more accuracy by hiring “The Vagina Monologues” writer Eve Ensler as a consultant. Ensler has worked with with abused women and sex slaves in the Congo, Haiti, Bosnia, Japan, and other countries.
To ensure the cast understood their characters better, she met with them for workshops during the shoot in Namibia. Regarding the workshops, she said:
It was really a wonderful experience for me and a real honour to sit with those wonderful actors and talk about issues like how do you feel carrying a baby of someone who’s raped you? What does it mean to be held captive by a warlord who is using you as a breeder and raping you constantly? You know, I wanna say that you know, this a post-apocalyptic movie, but it seems to me that for many in the world, the future is now. There’s many people living this story.
7. The old ladies did their own stunts
One of the Many Mothers aka the Vuvalini is portrayed by Melissa Jaffer, a renowned Australian actress who has appeared in multiple Australian films. Her character is the eldest warrior woman who carries hope for the future in a satchel filled with plants and seeds.
During an interview with NPR, the 78-year-old actress made a shocking reveal by stating that she and the other actresses did their own stunts in the movie. “We’re a badass lot, yeah,” she said. “I mean, my character is no doubt a killer.” Jaffer added:
And I got feeling from a lot of the crew members that they didn’t think it was right women of my age to be doing that sort of thing. You know, sometimes they’d come up and say, oh, he shouldn’t ask you to do that. And I would say why? And they’d say, well, because you’re an older woman. I did it, and I have to say, I enjoyed every minute of it.
Jaffer also said she jumped at the opportunity to portray such a ferocious character, despite it was a box office risk for Miller.
“The roles that one is offered at this age, quite frankly, you’re either in a nursing home, you’re in a hospital bed dying, you’re suffering from dementia, or in fact, in two cases, I was offered two characters who’d actually died and come back to life,” she said. “So when this role came along, I thought well, I won’t get another chance like this before I die, and that’s why I took it. It was absolutely wonderful. Wonderful role.”
Miller said he has plans to bring the actress back in the upcoming “Mad Max” sequels.
8. This is Courtney Eaton’s first film
After years of working as a fashion model, Australian model Coutney Eaton made her film debut via “Mad Max: Fury Road”. She plays “Fragile”, one of 5 women who were captured by Immortan Joe for the sole purpose of breeding. According to Eaton, her father is a big fan of the series, who encouraged her to audition for the part.
I’m grateful to (director) George Miller for plucking me from Perth by casting me in Mad Max, and to my dad, who, when I didn’t know if I wanted to audition, kind of made me do it. He was like, “It’s Mad Max—you can’t say no.”
She will be seen next in “Gods of Egypt”, which is scheduled for release next year (2016).
9. The “Five Wives” got matching tattoos
Eaton spent majority of the time working with Abbey Lee Kershaw, Riley Keough, Zoë Kravtiz, and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley. Their friendship bond naturally grew stronger, to the point of having the same tattoo.
“We all got the same tattoo—three little dots and a triangle,” Eaton told Vanity Fair. She further revealed that they all got the same tattoo to commemorate the filming experience.
10. Nicholas Hoult lied to get his role as Nux
Apparently, he was asked to tell a story at his audition. He decided to borrow a wedding disaster story from his actor friend Liam Cunningham, who once attended a wedding in Ireland that almost cost a grandfather his life.
The bride got grease on her skirt and they got petrol filtered out of a tank to get this grease off and then they poured it down the toilet. She was fine, she went down the aisle. But then the grandad of the family, he liked to smoke a pipe, so he went to the toilet at one point… sat down on the toilet, lit his pipe, had a puff and then threw the match in the toilet and it exploded. He had to be carried out on a stretcher. It was, like, this huge disaster story, and the whole time, like, the casting director was looking around the camera, going, “No way.” I told it as if I was there. I lied.
11. The actresses designed their own costumes
One interesting thing we’ve learned from Rosie Huntinton-Whitley’s interivew with Esquire is that she and her co-stars chose how they want to be seen in “Mad Max: Fury Road”. She also talked about the difficulty of filming for her role by comparing it with her film debut in “Transformers”.
When I was filming “Transformers”, I went home to a fancy hotel and a spa and room service. “Mad Max” was tougher because of the location that we were at.
She further revealed that the cast members “didn’t know much about (their) characters” upon signing on for the movie. “I had made the assumption that I was going to be in bad-ass leathers and jackets and studs and motorcycle boots and all of that,” she said. But when she turned up in the costume department, Miller had the actresses design their own costumes from scraps of bandages.
Poor Riley (Keough) got pneumonia or hypothermia. All of us got colds and aches and pains. It was tough. It was physically tough, for sure.
12. Vertigo to release “Mad Max: Fury Road” comic book prequels
Vertigo of DC Comics will be releasing 3 comic book prequels, one per month, that detail the backstory for a character in the film. The first comic titled “Mad Max: Fury Road – Nux and Immortan Joe” was released on 20th May 2015. The subsequent prequels titled “Mad Max: Fury Road – Furiosa” and “Mad Max: Fury Road – Mad Max #1” will be released on 17th June and 8th July respectively.
Titled “Mad Max: Fury Road – Inspired Artists Deluxe Edition”, a deluxe edition hardcover collection of art inspired by the film was released earlier on 6th May 2015.
You can read the preview of the first prequel at Comic Book Resource.
13. How Miller created the Coma the Doof Warrior
Coma the Doof Warrior aka the blind electric guitarist is portrayed by Sean Hape, who is better known as iOTA. He is one of the most talked about characters in the entire movie. Immortan Joe has a vehicle equipped with a mountain of speakers dedicated entirely for him and his back-up percussionists to keep the soldiers’ blood pumping with his heavy-metal soundtrack.
Even when he doesn’t show up onscreen with his explosive movements and fire-breathing electric guitar, the war music that grows louder and louder with each passing minute had us sitting at the edge of our seats.
According to Miller, the electric guitarist is one character that didn’t get his own comic.
I want to tell a story about him in a comic if there’s an opportunity. For me, it was all about how someone who is blind survives in this place. How does someone weak survive the apocalypse? He survived because he was blind – because he lived deep in an unlit mine, where it was an advantage to be blind. So, deep in the mine, he would sit there and eat rodents and get the water from the sea bed — and he would also play his guitar where no one could hear it. One day Immortan Joe came past, and someone heard the music. Then he was called upon when (Joe) needed a bugler or the bagpipe — someone who helps call everyone to war.
14. From “Toecutter to “Immortan Joe”
Hugh Keays-Byrne starred in the film as Immortan Joe, the silver-haired main antagonist who has a troupe of zombie-like war boys. However, he also appeared in the first “Mad Max” film as “Toecutter”, an axe-wielding leader of motorcycle gang that killed Max’s wife and child.
Similar to Joe, Toecutter is a ruthless leader who is capable of both savagery and strategy. However, he met a suitably grisly end beneath the wheels of an oncoming truck.
15. Every character’s name has a meaning or a backstory
From Immortan Joe to The Dag to Slit, Miller made sure that each character’s name has a backstory or a meaning.
When asked about how he crafted the names, he explained:
One of the things is that everything in the story has to have some sort of underlying backstory. Not just every character, but every vehicle, every weapon, every costume – and the same with the language. So (the concept) was always found objects, repurposed. Immortan Joe is a slight adjustment to the word “immortal.” The character Nux says “mcfeasting” instead of using the word “feasting.”
Miller also explained that “The Dag” (portrayed by Abbey Lee Karshaw) is his favourite “Fury Road” character name because “the dag is sort of a goofball-type”. He added, “I also like Nux, but I don’t know where that came from. And Slit… well…(makes a slit-the-throat gesture).”
Released on 15th May 2015, the movie has received nothing but high praises from critics and fans alike, with some of them calling it “the best action movie of all time”. For a film that spent around 25 years in development hell, Miller outdone himself by providing us with 2 hours of pure action and madness.