Fury Road was many years in the making.
George Miller directed Mel Gibson in the star-making original and its sequel, Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior. He co-directed Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, which arrived in 1985. It would be 30 years before Fury Road was in theaters. There were a number of production delays and false starts along the way, going as far back as at least 1998. The 9/11 terror attacks postponed a once planned 2001 start date. There was a new script by 2003, another false start in 2006, then 2009, until things finally got moving in earnest in 2012, resulting in the movie we finally saw in 2015.
Fury Road was almost animated.
Fury Road is rightly celebrated in part because of its daring practical stunts and effects which gives it a visceral realness absent in most modern blockbusters. But the fourth Mad Max film was nearly an animated affair. In a 2009 interview with MTV, Miller talked about his love of Japanese anime like Akira and Ghost in the Shell.
George Miller wanted Heath Ledger to play Max.
It didn’t make sense to keep Gibson in the role. “It’s not a story like Clint Eastwood’s Unforgiven about an old, aging warrior,” Miller told FHM. “Max is supposed to be that universal archetype of the lone warrior searching the wasteland for meaning.” In the same interview, the director said Ledger (who died in early 2008) was the only other actor he considered. “Heath, Mel and Tom had the same quality when they walk into the room, a real likeability mixed with a turbulence. It’s a wonderful paradox of nervous energy. That’s great for an essentially silent character.”
Mel Gibson gave Tom Hardy and George Miller his blessing.
Tom Hardy reportedly had lunch with the original Mad Max and received his blessing before filming. In Fury Road, Hardy wears a near exact replica of the jacket worn by Gibson in Mad Max and its first sequel, Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior. And he of course drives a V8 Interceptor similar to the one driven by Gibson in the last part of the first movie and the first half of the second, ‘though it’s sadly destroyed. Miller later recounted that Mel Gibson sat next to him at the Fury Road premiere.
Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron did not get along.
Max and Furiosa are trying to kill each other at first, before they form an uneasy alliance, and eventually, a kind of mutual respect. A year after the film’s release, Miller admitted to the Wall Street Journal that the relationship between his two leads followed a similar trajectory, albeit without the murderous rage. Charlize has been candid about it as well, admitting to Esquire that they “drove each other crazy.”
After seeing Fury Road, Tom Hardy apologized to George Miller.
Tom Hardy was gracious enough to make a very public apology to Fury Road’s director. During a press conference at the Cannes Film Festival, the actor confessed it had been hard to follow along with what Miller wanted out there in the desert. “I knew he was brilliant, but I didn’t know how brilliant until I saw it. So, my first reaction was, ‘Oh my God, I owe George Miller an apology for being so myopic.”
Fury Road features the same villains as the original…Sort of…
Immortan Joe is the primary villain in Fury Road. Toecutter was obliterated in the first movie, so it’s unlikely that it’s the same character, but it is definitely the same actor. The guy under the makeup and prosthetics as Immortan Joe is character actor Hugh Keays-Byrne, who played the main bad guy in the 1979 original film, Mad Max.
The Production spent 138 days on a single scene.
In an interview with iO9 conducted just before the movie’s release, Theron said they spent three years working with storyboards before there was anything resembling a more conventional script. She also said they spent 138 days on a single scene. “George was really good at understanding what he wanted. And the movie was in his head. After a while, we all understood that we just had to let him do his thing.”
George Miller stuck close to home for the editing process.
Editing duties were given to George Miller’s wife, Margaret Sixel. In interviews, the director has said he hired her precisely because she’d never edited an action film before, which meant she’d have a fresh take that would help distinguish Fury Road from the rest of the genre. Sixel spent six days per week cutting the 120-minute film for a period of two years. There are more than 2700 individual cuts in the finished movie, which is more than double the amount in the 90-minute Road Warrior. Like Theron, Sixel was born in South Africa. She’s the first South African born editor to win an Oscar, one of roughly 20 major awards given to Fury Road for her editing.
Tom Hardy is onboard for at least three more adventures.
In an interview for an Esquire magazine cover story, which was published shortly before the worldwide release of Fury Road, Tom Hardy said he was attached for three more Mad Max movies. Miller and his cowriter, Nico Lathouris, ended up with so much material as they sketched out character backstories for Fury Road there was enough for two more screenplays, as well as the different comic books published by DC’s Vertigo imprint around the time of the film’s release. The comics focused on Furiosa, Immortan Joe, and Nux. Miller told The Independent that the first of two planned sequels to Fury Road would be called Mad Max: The Wasteland.