Eminem and Rihanna Were Once in Talks for Major Roles in ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’

Turns out "Love the Way You Lie" almost wasn't the only Rihanna and Eminem collaboration.
Eminem, Rihanna, Mad Max: Fury Road
Everett Collection

Another Eminem and Rihanna project? We’re here for it.

The respective Grammy winners were almost cast in “Mad Max: Fury Road,” according to New York Times writer Kyle Buchanan’s book, “Blood, Sweat & Chrome: The Wild and True Story of ‘Mad Max: Fury Road,'” now excerpted in Vulture.

Director George Miller and casting director Ronna Kress auditioned a slew of rising Hollywood talent for the 2015 prequel film.

“The whole process of casting Max took close to a year,” Kress said in the excerpt. “We were talking about every actor in the world, essentially, and having very in-depth conversations about the benefits of someone famous or someone unknown in the role of Mad Max.”

Michael Fassbender, Joel Kinnaman, Eric Bana, Jeremy Renner, and Armie Hammer were all shortlisted for the titular role of Max, which Mel Gibson originally portrayed in “Mad Max” trilogy starting in 1979.

Production and development executive Petrina Hull also noted that fans were hoping for Sam Worthington to take over. Heath Ledger was also “in the picture” prior to his death in 2008.

Yet lead storyboard artist Mark Sexton remembered a very different favored leading man: Eminem.

“This is something I don’t hear about very much and that George never admits, but I have a very, very, very strong memory of George talking about Eminem for Max,” Sexton said.

Miller explained, “He’d done ‘8 Mile,’ and I found that really interesting. I thought, ‘He’s got that quality.’ We’d done the first ‘Happy Feet’ with the late Brittany Murphy, and she had done ‘8 Mile,’ so I asked her what he was like and would this be something really interesting for him? She had no reservations about saying what a wonderful talent he is.”

Sexton added that he “got brought back in to redraw a bunch of storyboards in March 2007 and do a bunch of cut-and-pastes to put blond hair on Max,” for Miller to see if Eminem would look good in the part.

“We did get in touch with him, though,” Miller clarified. “That’s as far as it went because we were going to shoot it in Australia at that point, and he simply didn’t want to leave home. I think he had the impression that if he could do it out of his home state, then he’d be up for it.”

Sexton admitted he’s “kind of glad it didn’t happen” since the casting would have led to a “whole different bent” with the “feminist story behind ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’ might have taken a bit of a hammering” had Eminem been cast.

And, another music icon was in the mix to play one of the five Wives that Furiosa escapes with. Margot Robbie and Jennifer Lawrence were considered, but Miller personally met with Rihanna to discuss the role.

“Usually, actors turn up dressed very casually, but boy, Rihanna looked spectacular when she walked in,” Miller said. “I’m not sure she was even aware of the content of the movie, so she dressed up as Rihanna, which was the right thing to do.”

Ultimately, the five Wives were played by Zoë Kravitz, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Riley Keough, Zoë Kravitz, Abbey Lee, and Courtney Eaton.

As for Furiosa, before Charlize Theron was locked into her scene-stealing performance, Jessica Chastain, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Ruth Negga, and Gal Gadot all read for the part.

Mad Max went to Tom Hardy, and the rest, as they say, is cinema history.

“Tom read with the actress Kat Dennings, and one of the things that really struck me is she was kind of anxious doing this exercise, and Tom started helping her relax, coaching her,” Miller said. “I had the same feeling about Tom that I had when Mel Gibson first walked into the room: There was a kind of edgy charm, the charisma of animals. You don’t know what’s going on in their inner depths, and yet they’re enormously attractive.”

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