Mad Max: Fury Road captivated audiences all over the world and has earned its reputation as one of the finest action films ever made. Its stars, Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron did not get along during filming. A new oral history cracks the lid open on what really happened on set.
Oil And Water
Theron and Hardy “have completely different approaches to their craft,” co-star Rosie Huntington-Whitely told Kyle Buchanan for his oral history Blood, Sweat, and Chrome: The Wild and True Story of Mad Max: Fury Road. Hardy is a more physical performer who tries many things while Theron is cerebral and consistent. The two had animosity going back to preproduction.
Co-star Nicholas Hoult said, “It was a tense atmosphere at times,” as if parents were arguing. Theron agreed. “We were either fighting or we were icing each other—I don’t know which one is worse—and they had to deal with it in the back. It was horrible! We should not have done that; we should have been better. I can own up to that.”
Heard Rumblings Before
Rumors have swirled for ages that conditions on set were lousy. The National Enquirer once claimed Theron hated making the film and refused to do any sequels. In reality, Theron wasn’t asked to return to the franchise, much to her disappointment. In hindsight, that story did nail the rivalry between Theron and Hardy.
From The Word Go
The first fight scene shot was the chain-wrench fight by the tanker. The film’s editor, J. Houston Yang, says “boy f*cking howdy, was it clear that those two people hated each other. They didn’t want to touch each other, they didn’t want to look at each other, they wouldn’t face each other if the camera wasn’t actively rolling.”
Theron backs this up. She didn’t get it at the time, but now she knows “I was in survival mode; I was really scared sh*tless.” Issues came to a head when Hardy, notoriously late for the set, was late once again. A livid Theron chose to wait for three hours in her vehicle, in full makeup and costume, just to lay into Hardy when he arrived.
Hardy finally arrived, and the two then engaged in an aggressive shouting match. Camera operator Mark Goellnicht explains what happened next: “He was quite aggressive. She really felt threatened, and that was the turning point, because then she said, “I want someone as protection.” She then had a producer that was assigned to be with her all the time.”
It Got Better After That
All this tension seems to have boiled over. Hardy softened toward Theron, and the two began talking when the camera was off. It’s as if reality mirrored what happened with their characters on screen.
Hardy, like Theron, owns up to his mistakes: “I was in over my head in many ways. The pressure on both of us was overwhelming at times. What she needed was a better, perhaps more experienced partner in me.” While there was certainly tension, both were just trying to do the best job they could. The results speak for themselves.