The fourth film in the Mad Max franchise was going to be made eventually. George Miller just had to wait for actor Nicholas Hoult to be born.
Or at least that’s the cheeky answer given by the 70-year-old director in response to the post-apocalyptic franchise’s long absence from the silver screen.
Mad Max: Fury Road comes 30 years after the release of Beyond Thunderdome – the third Mad Max movie – in 1985.
“In fact, a lot of people weren’t even born at that time, I think,” Miller says, referring to the franchise’s latest cast.
“I’m sorry Charlize, I have no idea how old you are, but I’m pretty sure you weren’t born yet at that time…,” he says apologetically to South African actress Charlize Theron who is seated to his right.
“Oh, I wasn’t,” the 39-year-old actress quips, much to the laughter of everyone in the room, before adding, “I’m just kidding, I was.”
In the new movie, Theron plays a new character, an androgynous female warrior called Imperator Furiosa.
Humour aside, Miller was making a point – to the crowd of international journalists at Siren Studios in Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles, California – about how Fury Road works as a standalone, rather than a continuation.
Hence, the introduction of an all-new cast and some novel characters. What remained – apart from the iconic “Mad” Max Rockatansky character, of course – is the dystopian premise.
Taking place 45 years after the fall of the world, civilisation has been reduced to a memory in Fury Road. The world’s greatest economies have crumbled and water is the new currency.
The remaining humanity is left to roam a wasteland in wild tribes or cling to survival at the foot of Citadel, a fortress with a massive aquifer that’s controlled by a tyrannical warlord with a legion of fervid army.
It’s this sort of complex tale, with a suggestive political undertone, that pushed Tom Hardy to take on the lead role in this film. The 37-year-old English actor replaces Mel Gibson from the previous movies as the eponymous character.
“It’s a fantastical spectacle. It’s relentless and it’s steeped in all kinds of human condition tales and stories,” says Hardy. “I’ve seen in pop culture what George has created and the opportunity to play the lead in this film was just beyond me.”
It’s an observation that the 25-year-old Hoult, who plays War Boy Nux, concurs with.
“There are a lot of things I didn’t see first in the original movie, but know of from the many things I’ve seen in pop culture that were based on what George Miller has created,” Hoult says.
Both men are referring to the various Mad Max references that have been made in entertainment over the years; from the final gritty scene in the first film that inspired the Saw franchise to the costumes in Kesha’s Get Sleazy tour, these are just a brief insight into the franchise’s enduring legacy.
NEXT PAGE: Shooting inside the War Rig. Plus a video of director George Miller on set.