Shooting on George Miller’s “Mad Max: Fury Road” began in the summer of 2012 and the film isn’t coming out until summer 2015. That’s, ahem, a long frickin’ road to a movie (as well as one that opens only two weeks after “Avengers: Age of Ultron”). By all accounts it is an expensive and highly ambitious picture, utilizing a lot of practical effects, cars and stunts and little CGI.
But perhaps ‘Fury Road’ took so long for myriad other reasons. You’ll recall as soon as it started shooting, reps from Warner Bros. were sent to oversee the production because it had fallen days behind schedule (sources say the film was actually further behind schedule than reported and the studio was in mini-panic mode trying to circumvent a potential disaster). Around the same time reports surfaced that leads Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron weren’t speaking to each other. We’d heard the rumor from sources and then it made the rounds on places like Perez Hilton and Radar.
The recent Esquire cover story on Tom Hardy brings up the rumors as well. Tom Junod writes, “Here are some things I’ve heard about Tom Hardy: … That on the set of Mad Max: Fury Road, Charlize Theron found him weird and scary and wanted him kept away from her. That when the head of Warner Bros. went to visit the Mad Max set in Namibia, he offered to let Hardy spar with him so that he could work out his issues.” However, when asked about the purported “feud,” Hardy brushed those rumors aside.
“The feud with Charlize Theron? That’s disappointing,” he says. “I think she’s fucking awesome. I think she’s incredible. I think she’s one of the most talented actresses of our generation. But it’s very interesting, the concept of what danger is, and this has nothing to do with Charlize Theron or ‘Mad Max,’ actually, but this has to do with life in general. There is a flicker of energy that can come from certain people, whether it’s fear-based or whether it’s contrived, which can unsettle a room. And if somebody mismanages that, or if a trickster is in the driving seat of that particular asset and has no business being there in said room, well…but I am no more threat than a puppy. People are frightened by passion and heart. I’m terrified of it. And by decision making, especially if it’s not their own. There are many sides to a coin as well. Reputation can work for you and against you, but I’d rather have one than not have one. But at the same time, it better be the fucking right one. It has to be authentic. It will have my signature on it. If I punch somebody in the face, they will know it. If I haven’t, someone knows as well.”
Hardy is anything but shy. Asked about beefing with Nicolas Winding Refn during the production of “Bronson,” the movie that brought him to Hollywood’s attention, Hardy doesn’t hold back. One of his acting friends in the piece said the “Bronson” script wasn’t ready by the time shooting was about to begin, and the actor echoed that sentiment.
“If something’s full of holes, don’t be surprised if I point them out,” he said. “If you’re fair weather and haven’t been able to contribute to the challenge, why challenge me when you don’t have the strength? You said the work would be done and it hasn’t been done, and so whose fault is it that we’re in confrontation? You can call that difficult—I call that not being prepared. You can call that difficult—I call it being betrayed. It’s full of holes, man. And I can’t have it full of holes. I can’t lie. Because I’m terrified of being found out as a fraud.”
To his credit, Refn has nothing bad to say about Hardy, in fact, quite the opposite. “‘Difficult’ is when the [actors] don’t care. So I would never in a million years describe Tom as difficult. He was eager. He wants to be your instrument. He wants you to be part of him, he wants you to devour him, he wants you to use him up.”
Anyway, back to “Mad Max: Fury Road.” We heard that Hardy and Theron had patched things up by the end of the shoot so perhaps those reshoots went smoother. But whispers of his intensity as an actor on set have not really abated. In the end that’s probably a good thing. Esquire says they have heard that “Hardy’s performance in Mad Max is career defining.” One can only hope, but please don’t steal him away for blockbusters the whole time. “Mad Max: Fury Road” opens May 15, 2015, and you can next see Hardy in “Locke” opening this weekend.