07 Mad Max Fury Road — A Legend Roars Back To Life, Part 3

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“It is by my hand you will rise from the ashes of this world.”– Immortan Joe

Life imitated art as all the design teams set out to recycle and melt down as much as they could to fabricate the physical world of the film—making weapons from soda cans, tires and inner tubes; car accessories from melted-down second‐hand pewter tankards and trophies; and a menagerie of hand-built, customized vehicles constructed in part from the revitalized bodies of 350 salvaged cars. Gibson reveals that at the Citadel, and in all corners of the Wasteland, you use what you have for what you need. “George was very big on what he called ‘polymorphous’. Purpose was brutally efficient function that could be wrought from any and all things, and adapted as needed. A stick starts out as a spear, but breaks, then becomes a crossbow bolt, and then splint, and a toothpick, and then fuel for a fire.”

Unique to the film are weapons derived from spears tipped with a trench warfare-style grenade and used by War Boys to pierce the armor of the War Rig. “These are explosive devices with a detonator on the front, and the art department did them up beautifully,” Miller notes. “If you look at them closely, the handles are very finely worked, complete with decorative tassels. They’re not just weapons, they’re personal.”

Gibson himself had a blast hand-fashioning scrappy weapons that could believably exist in a diminished future. “They were all reused from different materials—spray guns and jackhammers became guns or flamethrowers,” he describes.

Costume designer Jenny Beavan relished grounding the scope of Miller’s imagination into spare reality, in part because it took her out of her comfort zone. “I’ve done a lot of period movies, but the appeal of doing something post-apocalyptic is really stretching your brain in a very different way, which was wonderful to jump into. It’s elevated and fantasy, but still grounded in a weird kind of reality, and I loved the freedom of creating vibrantly abnormal things.”

While one of Miller’s other ground rules was to avoid any throwbacks to the earlier films, the storyboard team stumbled on one iconic piece that was irresistible—the original leather jacket Mel Gibson wore in “The Road Warrior.” Once that surfaced, Pound reimagined the iconic jacket and shoulder pads to conceptualize a new but resonant piece for Hardy’s Max.

From there, Beavan collaborated with Hardy to develop and style the Road Warrior of “Mad Max: Fury Road.” “Tom came in with a huge amount of his own ideas,” she relates. “We got together masses of stuff and put together the look that, of course, he loses immediately. But the idea is that he will regain it over the course of the movie.”

The costume team would ultimately duplicate Max’s get-up 20 more times to accommodate all the stunt performers, with an additional layer of protective gear. But Hardy himself would dive into as many stunts as he could physically perform, including the character’s desperate initial escape and recapture from the Citadel.

Beavan also collaborated extensively with Charlize Theron to hand-select and create Furiosa’s worn white top, slouch leather trousers, and the body armor that stretches across her midsection, harnessed by horizontal bands of leather belts. The outfit would reflect the character’s basic needs—comfortable, utilitarian, formidable, and not restrictive in a fight. Furiosa has lost part of her left arm, and wears a mechanical arm crafted from salvage materials by Australian artist Matt Boug. A lighter version was made for Theron and her stunt double, Dayna Chiplin, for increased mobility. “Furiosa’s arm is a perfect example of imbuing found objects with artistry,” Miller surmises. “You can see spanners, crankshafts, parts of car engines. There’s a small motor on it from a toy airplane, which she uses to pump up the hydraulics should she need extra power.”

Theron didn’t see Furiosa as someone with a lot of time for her appearance, and, after long discussions with Miller and hair and makeup designer Lesley Vanderwalt, she was struck by an idea. “I was a new mother; I was going to be in the desert; I thought, ‘We need to just shave my head,’” Theron remembers. “I was so excited that I called call George, and he took a breath. Then, he said, ‘Yes,’ and we did it the next morning.

Looking back, I can’t imagine doing this film any other way.”

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