Meet the new incarnation of Mad Max. He’s not just mad, he’s furious...
Tom Hardy pushes it to the ( Mad) Max.
It’s easy to take Tom Hardy for granted. So effortlessly does he dissolve into the characters he plays that you might fail to note the high level of craft he brings to his roles. When SFX meets him in Calgary, however, ( where he’s working on director Alejandro González Iñárritu’s nineteenth- century revenge epic The Revenant) his talent immediately becomes clear. At only five foot, nine inches, the lean Hardy hardly appears capable of hoisting up Christian Bale’s Batman and breaking him over his knee as his Bane did in The Dark Knight Rises. Nor does he resemble the imposing figures he cut in Star Trek: Nemesis, Layer Cake, Bronson and, in his mainstream breakthrough role, Christopher Nolan’s Inception. Yet as Hardy describes becoming Max Rockatansky in the most gruelling shoot of his life – George Miller’s long- awaited fourth Mad Max film, the aptly named Fury Road – he’s convinced us he can become damn near anyone the job requires... Five years passed from the time you were cast to the release of Mad Max: Fury Road. How did you find the will to do it?
You don’t miss out on opportunities like this if you get invited. I mean, you go. Anyone who’s on that journey will never forget it. When the phone call comes in, you go. It’s an awesome opportunity. It doesn’t matter when it comes; unless you’re too old, obviously, to go on that journey. How physically demanding were Fury Road’s action scenes?
It’s not like Hong Kong karate and, you know, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. This is heavy metal in the baking sun, blunt traumas and car crashes, cars rolling over, spikes…. Everything ’s metal. You’re on wires with very little clothing on, and you’ve got a harness. It’s very sweaty and hot and you’re getting wrenched in the air and trying to bounce, smashed against metal, day in/ day out, for six months. I got battered. I mean, it was bad. How were you injured?
My harness slung out really slowly from the back of a lorry and my whole body and my legs came up and I crushed my nose on this wire. It caused a lot of damage to my face. And I cried [ laughs]. But I could be in much worse places. This is four years ago. I’ve done a lot more films since then. My shoulders are a bit wider than I thought they were. And my [ stunt double] Jacob Tomuri did all the dangerous work. I learned a lot about what can happen to a human being when he hits a car from watching Jacob’s body and torso fly across the desert. We’ve heard most of the action was done in camera...
Everything that you see, happened. Give or take a few dummies that flew around. It was not [ computer] generated. And the stunt performers don’t really get awarded anything at the Oscars. Was the shoot safe for the stunt performers?
It’s not. The bottom- line is it’s not really that safe. It’s as safe as you could possibly get it. But there is very real harm that can happen to them. If they don’t take care, they will lose legs and they will, you know, have traumas. They will break things. But that’s what these guys do. Good for them. Everything you see in the film is a testament to their courage, and them wanting to do movies. Full credit to them, because without them we couldn’t do the movie. What are your thoughts on the film now you’ve seen Fury Road?
As a visual escapade, it’s right up there with all of the superhero movies. But it’s a complete variation from the superhero movies’ world. It’s a classic. It’s just phenomenal. You’ve got to see it. How did you approach playing Max?
Everything hurts him. So if you hit your nuts when you hit the back of that lorry, play it [ laughs]. That’s what Harrison Ford would have done. That’s what Mel [ Gibson] would have done. That’s what the old school would have done. They’d have played it straight. This is tough. So make it look tough. Hurt your finger? That’s manly, mate [ laughs]. Get up and just hold your fingers and keep going, cos you can’t stop. As I studied more about Max, I thought, “He’s not going to give up on life, for stubbornness alone.” How does Fury Road compare to the other Mad Max films?
I think this is a variation of the three films, with further meditation. You’d have to ask George for a more succinct answer to who this Max is. Because it’s a continuation of the world. But it’s a meditation on Max. The mythology of Mad Max makes this an excellent sort of vehicle, and yes, it’s a big franchise movie. But what’s underpinning it is a very deep mythology and a world that’s been created with a huge amount of due diligence and care. Is Max a victim of fate?
You’ve got a man who’s fighting with the gods in many ways, or that which is the afterlife. Not leaving until he’s done something. So I don’t think he can be a victim, because he’s committed to something. As to what, you’ll
find out [ laughs]. Mad Max: Fury Road opens on
Friday 15 May.
“If you hit your nuts when you hit the back of that lorry, play it”