Even Charlize Theron was surprised when she saw the script for "Mad Max: Fury Road," and learned her character — one-armed savior Furiosa — was almost the real star.

“I remember when [director] George Miller showed me the storyboard, I expected to see a really cool reinterpretation of the 'Mad Max' world. I knew there would be an important female role, but as I started to turn the pages, I found her truly awesome – I was in such a shock. She is the one who carries the emotion of the script. I guess that is also what stuns the people who see the film. They expect Mad Max to be the leader. But actually she is the one who shakes up the storyline with a haul on the wheel.”

Almost as shocking was what she did to her head: shave it. “Keeping my hair long would have looked weird," she says, laughing. "That was the only way I could see myself slipping into this underground, highly mechanical atmosphere, only surrounded by guys. That seemed impossible to do with a ponytail on my head. One day, I called George and I suggested that we cut my hair. And he said ok! Three hours later, I was bald.”