It’s been 30 years since George Miller’s last Mad Max movie, Max Max Beyond the Thunderdome starring Mel Gibson in the title role.
In the 21st Century, Miller has found a new Max Rockatansky in British actor Tom Hardy. In the movie Mad Max: Fury Road, which opens on May 15th, the story takes place 45 years after the fall of the world, where there is no rule of law, no power grids, no water and no mercy, where the Citadel and its allies control the Wasteland.
Max must team with Furiosa (Charlize Theron), a female warrior who is determined to save the enslaved women of the Citadel, in order to survive. On their trail is Nux, the War Boy, played by Nicholas Hoult.
I hear you reached out to Mel Gibson when you were offered the role of Max, can you talk about that?
Tom: We had lunch, and it was good. He handed me the torch.
Mel’s Max is iconic. But when George asked me to play this character, I entered into a collaboration with him to transmute Max for the events in this film.
It’s brilliant material and a great honor to play this role.
Charlize, do you think the movie should be called Mad Maxine?
Charlize: I like the name Furiosa, I’ll stick with that one.
It’s funny, you get a name in a movie because that’s what we do socially, but 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.
Nicholas, what kind of research did you do for the role of Nux?
Nicholas: It was kind of all through George, he had a great way of describing to me the world that we were living in.
Also, before I even got to Australia, he sent me videos basically chronically my character’s life from conception and every major moment up until the day you meet him in the movie.
From that point you’ve got a great idea of what the character is like and what he enjoys and what he believes in, and then I just tried to listen to George on the set and have fun.
It was quite an extreme atmosphere, but something that really got the adrenalin pumping, because it was so real with the noise of the vehicles and everyone around you so pumped up on energy. It was easy to get swept up in the moment.
Can you talk about Max’s character at the beginning of the movie?
Tom: He’s a broken spirited man. We start off with Max in a hermetic lifestyle in the beginning, trying to be left alone, and then we see him open up throughout the movie and connect with humanity around him.
We came to this part of the Mad Max apocalyptic world. I’m not sure where it fits into the trilogy prior to it specifically, but from a succession of conversations about and around the world of the mythology, previous from George’s mind, George wanted him to be broken at the beginning.
How did the lack of dialogue in the movie affect you?
Charlize: As actors we were fighting that tooth and nail, because of fear, because language and dialogue is a crutch.
It’s so easy to have a great writer write you a line, and George was just so adamant about keeping this on track and the understanding of the world being so bare and that language would be such a luxury that these people would never have access to was so true.
In the beginning, all of us were like, ‘Can I get one line here?’
For me, maybe five weeks into shooting it became a little bit more second nature. I think I trusted it a little bit more and it became easier, and when I watch the movie now it’s so evident to me that that was exactly the way to tell it.
Tom, you wore a mask in The Dark Knight Rises and now this, have you gotten used to wearing a mask in movies?
Tom: I do like a mask, I’m not going to lie, so it was nice to get a new one in the form of a garden fork stuck to my face.
Were you really riding on the front of that car in the mask?
Tom: To be fair, I was a strapped to the front of the car for a couple of weeks, but Jacob Tomuri, my stunt double was stuck to it for a good six weeks doing about 60 (miles) an hour.
Because you were out in the middle of nowhere, where did you go to unwind?
Nicholas: I started a strip club in the desert and I made a lot of money, and I don’t really have to be here to be honest with you!