Mad Max director addresses Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron’s notorious on-set feud

Mad Max: Fury Road director George Miller has addressed the notorious on-set feud that developed between the film’s leads, Charlize Theron and Tom Hardy.

Ahead of the premiere of the forthcoming prequel film, Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga, Miller told The Telegraph: “Tom has a damage to him but also a brilliance that comes with it, and whatever was going on with him at the time, he had to be coaxed out of his trailer.

“Whereas Charlize was incredibly disciplined – a dancer by training, which told in the precision of her performance – and always the first one on set.”

Miller, who is returning to direct the prequel to the 2015 film, chalked the dispute up to the actors being “two very different performers”.

“I’m an optimist, so I saw their behaviour as mirroring their characters, where they had to learn to co-operate in order to ensure mutual survival,” Miller added. “There’s no excuse for it, and I think there’s a tendency in this business to use great performances as an excuse for other disruption that could be avoided.”

The Australian filmmaker’s comments echo Theron’s remarks featured in Kyle Buchanan’s 2022 book Blood, Sweat, and Chrome: The Wild and True Story of Mad Max: Fury Road.

Speaking candidly about her strained working relationship with Hardy, Theron, who played Imperator Furiosa, said: “I don’t want to make excuses for bad behaviour, but it was a tough shoot.

Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron in ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’ (Warner Bros promotional)
Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron in ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’ (Warner Bros promotional)

“I was in survival mode; I was really scared s***less,” she added. “We should not have done that; we should have been better. I can own up to that.”

The oral history book included quotes from the film’s producers and camera operators, who claimed the co-star’s boiling point came when Hardy arrived to set three hours late despite knowing that Theron had arrived early.

Hardy later owned up to his behaviour, telling Buchanan: “In hindsight, I was in over my head in many ways. The pressure on both of us was overwhelming at times.

“What [Theron] needed was a better, perhaps more experienced partner in me. I’d like to think that now that I’m older and uglier, I could rise to that occasion.”

Miller returns to helm Furiosa: A Max Saga, which stars Chris Hemsworth and Anya Taylor-Joy as the younger version of Theron’s military figure.

In the interview with The Telegraph, Miller noted that he warned Hemsworth and Taylor-Joy: “You have to be obsessive about safety – physical safety, as the shoot goes on and fatigue sets in, but also psychological safety. It’s not like the wild old days.”

Furiosa will have its world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival later this month before its debut in cinemas on 24 May.