When Tom Hardy accepted George Miller’s invitation to step into the boots of the character Miller created decades ago, Mad Max, the actor knew there was a giant elephant in the room. “Initially, I was daunted because, obviously, Mad Max is synonymous with Mel Gibson, and is a much loved character by many people,” Hardy told Movie Fanatic.
“It’s always exciting to get a job, but it was also such a big fish to land. The other side of that was that everybody loves Mel as Max, and nobody is going to want me, at all. It’s like being a new boy at school, and set up for immediate failure.”
But Hardy was eager to jump into that landmine because of the auteur that was behind it, the man who created Mad Max all those decades ago. “George not only created the car chase movie, he also created the post-apocalyptic movie, some 40 years ago,” Hardy said.
Hardy reported that Miller stressed to him that he should never feel that he was replacing Gibson. He was simply to continue the legend.
“There was no real pressure to fill anybody’s shoes, or to be a new Mad Max, of any sort. I was inheriting a legacy, and had been chosen by George to translate his vision and character into the Mad Max world of today, which is further discovered and mined and pursued by George. That he asked me to come along and portray his Max, it was really just a question of doing what was asked of me to fully translate George’s vision, which is epic,” Hardy said.
As we stated in our Mad Max: Fury Road review, Miller’s picture is epic and a bona fide masterpiece. Hardy admitted that that vision arose from years of Miller living with this world in his head.
“It’s not just what you see in Fury Road, but behind Fury Road and laterally to Fury Road. There is an abundance of material, which is yet to reveal itself. So, I don’t think I brought anything new, as such, but the fact that I’m just a new actor in the fourth installment of the legacy, which once was Mel’s role and still is, rightly so. I’m just the new boy, who’s hopefully accepted.”
The Mad Max: Fury Road trailer teases that Hardy’s title character is merely a spoke in a wheel that is this ensemble story. He is still quite the loner and he is still quite broken, yet there is something in this incarnation of Mad Max that finds him mining his soul for something more and that arrives in the form of helping Charlize Theron’s Furiosa and her mission of freeing women who are enslaved.
“In many ways, he’s a broken-spirited man. We start off with Max in a hermetic lifestyle. Then, we see him open up throughout the movie [and] connect with humanity around him,” Hardy said.
Where this Max fits into the previous three movies is not quite explored in Mad Max: Fury Road, but it’s not like all those involved didn’t discuss it. “I’m not sure quite where this fits into the films prior to it, but there was a succession of conversations about and around the world and mythology previous. George wanted him to be broken, at the beginning, and then suitably broken again.”
The Herculean effort it took to make Miller’s film is chronicled in this astounding Mad Max: Fury Road behind the scenes clip, but Hardy reported having his own moments of peril on the action-packed set. There’s an extended sequence where he’s strapped to the front of a car, going at breakneck speed.
“Yeah, [and] I had handcuffs on and a pitch fork stuck to my face,” Hardy said and laughed. “To be fair, I was strapped to the front of the car for a couple of weeks. My stunt double was strapped to it for about six weeks, doing about 60 kilometers an hour!”
That wasn’t even the toughest stunt for Hardy. When asked which was the most perilous, he didn’t have to think. “I’m not very good with heights, so the scaffolding pole was hard,” Hardy said of the scenes where he dangles high in the air shifting between speeding cars.
“It’s quite lonely up there. When the scaffolding pole goes one way, you naturally fall that way, as well. And then when it comes back to the middle, you have to roll around and fall the other way. And there’s no one up there to complain to!”