“Mad Max: Fury Road” is often regarded as one of the best action films in movie history, but getting the project from the page to the big screen proved to be the most challenging undertaking for nearly everyone on set. The New York Times has published an oral history of “Fury Road” jam packed with behind-the-scenes insight into the making of the action epic, including scoop that Uma Thurman was eyed for Furiosa and Jeremy Renner performed screen tests as Max. But no part of the oral history is as juicy as Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron, and more of the cast reliving the onset feuding that occurred as a result of the massive production challenges. Hardy and Theron famously butted heads on set, and Theron told The Times that both actors were to blame for the tension.
“In retrospect, I didn’t have enough empathy to really, truly understand what he must have felt like to step into Mel Gibson’s shoes,” Theron said. “That is frightening! And I think because of my own fear, we were putting up walls to protect ourselves instead of saying to each other, ‘This is scary for you, and it’s scary for me, too. Let’s be nice to each other.’ In a weird way, we were functioning like our characters: Everything was about survival.”
Theron said “the biggest thing that was driving that entire production was fear,” adding her own frustrations were brought on because “I was incredibly scared, because I’d never done anything like it. I think the hardest thing between me and George is that he had the movie in his head and I was so desperate to understand it.”
Hardy told The Times he agrees with Theron. The actor said, “I think in hindsight, I was in over my head in many ways. The pressure on both of us was overwhelming at times. What she needed was a better, perhaps more experienced, partner in me. That’s something that can’t be faked. I’d like to think that now that I’m older and uglier, I could rise to that occasion.”
“Because of how much detail we were having to process and how little control one had in each new situation, and how fast the takes were — tiny snippets of story moments were needed to make the final cut work — we moved fast, and it was at times overwhelming,” Hardy added. “One had to trust that the bigger picture was being held together.”
Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, who starred in “Fury Road” as one of Immortan Joe’s wives, said Theron and Hardy’s personalities clashed on set because they have “completely different approaches to their craft.” Zoe Kravitz said she observed both actors having moments of anger, but that it was Hardy who “really took it out on George the most, and that was a bummer to see.” But as Kravitz explained, “In some ways, you also can’t blame him, because a lot was being asked of these actors and there were a lot of unanswered questions.”
The production was a burden not only for the actors, but for Miller himself. Singer-songwriter iOTA starred in the film as the Doof Warrior and said he watched Miller “deteriorate over six months” of production, adding, “He looked so shattered by the end.” “Fury Road” editor Margaret Sixel is also Miller’s wife, and she told The Times, “I was worried about George. You wouldn’t even know the half of it, let me tell you. You should have seen him by the end of the shoot, he was so thin.”
Head over to The New York Times to read the “Fury Road” oral history in its entirety.