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Meet the new in­car­na­tion of Mad Max. He’s not just mad, he’s fu­ri­ous...

SFX: The Sci-Fi and Fantasy Magazine - - News - Words by Joseph McCabe Por­trait by Greg Wil­liams

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”

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