03 Mad Max Fury Road — The Future Belongs To The Mad, Part 2

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“As the world fell, each of us in our own way was broken. It was hard to know who was more crazy…me or everyone else.”– Max

In Furiosa, Theron felt Miller had conjured an alpha female unlike any other she’d seen, especially in an action setting. “When George told me he wanted to create a female Road Warrior who can stand next to this very iconic character as his equal, I believed him and he didn’t let me down. The material allowed for two characters who don’t fall for each other, or even become friends, because there is no room for relationships in this place.”

That collision became even more combustible with Hardy in the mix. “There’s an elated feeling when you’re bringing that dynamic to life opposite an actor like Tom Hardy, who is playing at such an impressive level,” she shares. “You really want to set the bar with him.”

For Hardy’s part, the emotion Theron layered into the character, with minimal dialogue and near-constant action, left him awe-struck. “Charlize is a heavyweight,” he states. “There are very few actors on the planet who can deliver such tremendous strength and presence but also a tremendous amount of vulnerability.”

As an elite Imperator at the Citadel, Furiosa drives the War Rig—a mobile war machine and the most valuable vehicle in service of the Warlord of the Wasteland: Immortan Joe.

In conceiving the film’s complex and imposing villain, Miller considered the degree of skill, intellect and unquenchable hunger for power that would drive a character to not only survive the death-spiral of civilization, but to thrive. Immortan Joe finds the answer in water, Aqua Cola. It’s one of the only real currencies in the Wasteland, and he uses it to obtain the others—fuel from Gas Town and munitions from the Bullet Farm—and to subjugate the sick and starving masses who’ve migrated to the Citadel.

Perched high atop his fortress is its most protected chambers, where the Immortan runs his operation, and hoards in a sealed vault that which is most precious to him—his Five Wives.

He knows his hard-fought primacy has no hope of enduring through his two surviving sons— Rictus Erectus, played by Nathan Jones, a child in the body of a humungous man; and Corpus Colossus, played by Quentin Kenihan, a mature intellect encased in a child’s body.

“Neither of them is able to take over when the Immortan’s gone, so he has imprisoned healthy young girls in a climate-controlled vault, and is impregnating them to produce a healthy male heir,” Miller relates.

The director didn’t have to look far to cast the role of the Warlord. On the first “Mad Max,” he had cast Hugh Keays-Byrne as the gleefully psychotic Toecutter. At the time, the freewheeling actor had volunteered to help pull together a cast and, if Miller would just ship the bikes, he’d lead a three-day road rally from Sydney to the Melbourne set of “Mad Max.” Much to Miller’s amazement, by the time they arrived, Keays-Byrne had transformed a loose band of actors into an authentic biker gang.

“That’s the kind of charisma I needed big time on ‘Fury Road,’” Miller says. “Hugh wears a mask in the film, so no one will mistake him for the Toecutter, and he’s got those amazing eyes and great power in his voice. He’s a lovely, big teddy bear of a guy, and brings a real playfulness to the character. Purely by the force of his personality, he added another layer to the film. He really energized our War Boys.”

The Warlord has indoctrinated the War Boys in his self-created myth that he is an immortal returned to deliver them to the warrior paradise of Valhalla, so they fling themselves into road combat with religious fervor. Their other religion is steel and V-8 engines, and as Black Fingers, they tend Immortan’s war armada in the middle ranks of the Citadel, refueling from the Blood Bank to prolong their half-lives.

“The Immortan would flay you alive for not accepting that he’s a god,” Keays-Byrne expresses. “Looking at the situation from his point of view, people are dying at a massive rate from the pollution in the environment, so he’s set up a breeding program, blood banks, milk banks, hydroponics, anything to keep the race going. He keeps his War Boys powered up on clean blood because they can’t fight for him if they die from disease. He loves his boys. And that’s what dictators do.”

“It is something of a moral dilemma,” screenwriter Brendan McCarthy suggests. “The Immortan is trying to rescue the human race from its current genetic breakdown, but he wants to do it by preserving his already ailing bloodline. He’s using brutal, homicidal methods to do so, and he invents a religion to keep his War Boys enthralled.”

Nicholas Hoult is Nux, who has achieved the ultimate for a War Boy in his short, failing life—the vaunted position of driver, with his own personalized hot rod and a V-8 engine block scarified on his chest. “Everyone in this story is a commodity, and yet, in Nux, we see the rambunctiousness of youth,” says Miller. “Even though he’s leading a fairly miserable existence, and knows he hasn’t got long, he’s actually capable of great joy, and Nick has that energy inherently. He’s a wonderful actor, extremely disciplined, strong and also tremendous fun. Nick just exudes that youthful exuberance that really tells you who this character is.”

Long before production began, Miller set up a secure website loaded with videos of costume fittings, stunt tests, and reference materials for the actors to learn the backstories of the characters, which was a goldmine for Hoult. “It gave some insight into how Nux could always be trying his best to be optimistic,” the actor notes. “He doesn’t know much about the world; all he knows is that he’s only got a half-life. He’s got these tumors on his neck called Larry and Barry, who are kind of his pals, but are also killing him. His relative innocence and enthusiasm are what set Nux onto the path he takes in this film.”

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