British actor Tom Hardy takes on the title role of Max Rockatansky in Warner Bros. Pictures’ hard-hitting action-thriller “Mad Max: Fury Road” from legendary director George Miller.
“George essentially invented the post-apocalyptic atmosphere we now see in so many videogames and movies,” says Hardy. “That’s his canvas, and he’s continuing to paint on it with all of the assets he has at his fingertips. To be in this film is to sit with George in his toy box, and his imagination is so fantastic that you’re not really in a movie; you’re in George’s head.”
Max Rockatansky was first introduced in Miller’s original 1979 film “Mad Max,” and the character’s global resonance took even his creator by surprise. “I realized I’d unconsciously tapped into that classic mythological archetype,” he says. “In Japan, they called Max a lone Ronin Samurai. In France, they saw the film as a ‘Western on wheels’ and Max as the lone gunslinger. In Scandinavia, some said Max reminded them of a solitary Viking warrior, wandering the harsh landscape.”
Casting Tom Hardy in the role, Miller knew he’d found an actor who could bring a palpable truth to the mythic figure, noting, “It’s easy to be cautious as an actor, but there are some who are emotional warriors, and that’s Tom. He’s fearless. I was waiting for someone like Tom to come along and knew he would find the soul of Max within himself.”
Miller sensed in Hardy a quicksilver energy that recalled his first encounter with Mel Gibson when he initially cast him as Mad Max three decades ago. “It’s a charisma born out of paradox that makes him so compelling to watch,” the director posits. “Tom can be accessible, yet mysterious; tough, yet vulnerable. There’s tremendous warmth, but also an element of danger.”
Hardy was just six weeks old when the first film was released, but grew up very much aware of the Road Warrior legend. Once he wrapped his mind around the director’s vision, he understood that he wasn’t being asked to revisit the character but to reinvent it. “Mel’s Max is iconic,” Hardy relates. “But when George asked me to play this character, I entered into a collaboration with him to transmute Max for the events in this film. It’s brilliant material and a great honor to play this role.”
Still, Hardy reached out to Gibson to seek his blessing. “We had lunch, and it was good. He handed over the torch.”
Embodied by Hardy, Max Rockatansky emerges as a veteran of some desert war with a skill set that allows him to survive alone, having learned that attachment only leads to sorrow in a hostile world. “Max is somebody who just wants to go home, but there is no home,” Hardy says. “There’s nothing but silence, pain and destruction. He lives in a place where there’s no humanity, yet he still yearns for it. But relationships cost in this world.”
In the film, we find Max contemplating the dead, featureless void of the Plains of Silence, where his battered Interceptor, the last remnant of his old life, has taken him. “He’s seen a tremendous amount of trauma and horror, and everything he cares about is lost,” Hardy notes. “But even though his life, in many ways, is not worth living, there’s an argument to defy death. He’s not ready to die until he metes out a certain amount of justice for everything that has been taken from him.”
Opening across the Philippines in 2D and 3D theaters on Thursday, May 14, “Mad Max: Fury Road” is distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company.