When Mad Max Fury Road debuted in 2015, it stood out as a practical-effects masterpiece amongst the green-screen-everything Marvels and Fast and Furiouses of the big screen. This is all in addition to its praised story, where director George Miller updated his trilogy of the same name for the 21st Century. The surrealist Fury Road saw Charlize Theron and Tom Hardy play post-apocalyptic warriors hurdling across the desert in a giant armored truck.
All that said—the desert, practical effects, whipping around in a truck that’s supposed to look like a death trap—you could imagine that tensions ran pretty high on set. According to an oral history of Fury Road’s production published by The New York Times on Tuesday, multiple people involved with the film refer to conflicts between Hardy, Theron, and Miller while they were making the film.
“Tom [Hardy] really had moments of frustration, of anger,” said Zoe Kravitz, who played one of the five Wives in the movie. “Charlize [Theron] did, too, but I feel like he’s the one who really took it out on George the most, and that was a bummer to see. But you know, 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.”
It’s worth noting that most of the oral history lays off the specifics, and Theron and Hardy seem apologetic and regretful, with over five years having passed since they filmed Fury Road. (It probably didn’t help that the set was apparently freezing cold, either—they shot the movie during the winter).
“In retrospect, I didn’t have enough empathy to really, truly understand what [Hardy] 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.”
Hardy, who can now be seen in yet another batshit role, was just as remorseful, even admitting that he recognized the true genius of what Miller created long after the cameras stopped. Fury Road nabbed $374 million worldwide and was nominated for 10 Oscars, so it seems like everyone got over their beef fairly quickly.
“I would agree,” Hardy 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.”
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