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Few movie experiences have stunned us the way the first viewing of MAD MAX: FURY ROAD did. George Miller's third sequel to the movie series he created in 1979 is intense, colorful, surprising and jaw-dropping, with that last effect created by a legion of astonishing physical stunts.
No one had any idea what to expect from MAD MAX: FURY ROAD before it arrived in 2015. It seems like most of the cast and crew didn't even know what it would look like. We knew writer/director George Miller had considered a fourth Mad Max movie for many years, and that the production had been long and arduous. With Tom Hardy stepping in to play Max, and Charlize Theron co-starring as the new character Furiosa, we didn't even know if it was a sequel or reboot.
In the end all that mattered was that MAD MAX: FURY ROAD set new standards for action movies. It immediately became one of our favorite movies. It opened just five years ago, but already seems like it is unquestionably among the best action movies ever made. Now FURY ROAD is playing — in XD! — as part of our Comeback Classics series. In celebration, here is our favorite MAD MAX: FURY ROAD trivia.
1. It took 15 years to get MAD MAX: FURY ROAD made.
2. Originally, FURY ROAD was planned to shoot in Namibia in 2003, with original MAD MAX star Mel Gibson returning, but in the aftermath of 9/11 the crew found they could not get insurance for the shoot, or transportation for vehicles and supplies from Australia.
3. In 2010, the movie's second planned shoot, in the same locations where the previous two MAD MAX movies were made, was rained out by unusual weather which totally changed the landscape.
4. Finally, in 2012, the production went back to Namibia and the shoot went as planned — until Warner Bros. shut the movie down when it went over budget. Months later, in 2013, Miller was able to finish the shoot.
5. When it was all said and done, Miller and crew shot 480 hours of footage, which editor Margaret Sixel had to assemble into a two-hour movie. She won an Oscar for her work.
6. MAD MAX: FURY ROAD could not have been made without digital cameras, which allowed the crew to drive for expended periods, searching for the correct lighting or scenery, while keeping the cameras rolling.
7. While a great many of the film's stunts were practical, George Miller would heavily manipulate images in post-production, using digital editing to do small things like moving an actor's arm if it wasn't in the right place for an otherwise perfect shot.
8. Cinematographer John Seale was 70 and retired when George Miller convinced him to shoot FURY ROAD. Seale got his fifth Oscar nomination for the movie. (He won once, for THE ENGLISH PATIENT.)
9. There was no traditional screenplay for FURY ROAD. Instead, a massively-detailed set of storyboards acted as the script.
10. The movie's stunts look spontaneous but each one was methodically planned and tested. A young ROAD WARRIOR stuntman, Guy Norris, became the second unit director and stunt coordinator on FURY ROAD.
11. One upside to the multiple production delays is that the crew had more time to research and develop outrageous stunts, like the "polecat" riders who pluck targets right out of moving cars.
12. The guitar-playing Doof Warrior, who is basically Immortan Joe's military bandleader, was played by an artist named iOTA (real name Sean Hape) and the character's entire rig, from the guitar to amplifiers to flamethrower, actually worked.
13. George Miller used exaggerated and bright colors in the movie to set it apart from other post-apocalyptic movies.
14. As real as much of the movie is, more than half the footage of key actors "driving" was done in stationary vehicles using George Miller's "simtrav" technique. The vehicles were balanced on large balloons to simulate movement on rough roads. The tires would be made to spin using digital effects in post-production.
15. Hugh Keays-Byrne plays Immortan Joe in FURY ROAD; he also played Toecutter, an unrelated character, in MAD MAX.
16. The lack of a conventional script made the experience difficult for some of the actors. Tom Hardy later apologized to Miller for being antagonistic on set, saying "there is no way George could’ve explained what he could see in the sand when we were out there. I knew he was brilliant, but I didn’t quite know how brilliant."
17. Early ideas for the movie had Furiosa with long flowing hair. Charlize Theron argued that the character's life in a truck made the hair seem wildly impractical, and Miller agreed with the idea of shaving her head.
18. The camera crew would hide small cameras throughout many vehicle interiors and outside the trucks, to capture extra footage. One cameraman joked that several are still lost, buried in the sands of Namibia.
19. While the movie's environment looked incredibly hot, much of the shoot was actually extremely cold. Rose Huntington-Whiteley, Zoë Kravitz, Abbey Lee, Courtney Eaton and Riley Keough all had to wear very thin, light costumes, adding an extra layer of difficulty.
20. "The Vagina Monologues" author Eve Ensler was brought in to consult on the backstories for Immortan Joe's wives.
21. Early on, Jeremy Renner was nearly cast as Max; Zoë Kravitz did her first chemistry test opposite Renner.
22. The roster of stunt performers for the movie included more than 150 people.
23. The Valkyrie is played by Megan Gale, who was first cast by George Miller to play Wonder Woman in his JUSTICE LEAGUE movie, which was shut down just before photography began thanks to the 2008 writer's strike and troubles with an Australian film board. Fellow FURY ROAD actor Hugh Keays-Byrne would have played Martian Manhunter.
24. As a teenager, Tom Hardy had a dog named Max, which was named after the original MAD MAX movie. The dog passed away shortly before Hardy was cast as Max.
25. George Miller has written a prequel about a young Furiosa, and told the New York Times he's looking for a woman in her 20s to play the lead role.
All images courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures.
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