It's taken Australian director George Miller 30 years to bring his iconic post-apocalyptic wanderer, Mad Max, back to the screen. In the super-charged update, Tom Hardy steps in for Mel Gibson — and then just as quickly steps aside for co-star Charlize Theron, who runs away with the film as Imperator Furiosa. And, as Hardy tells us, he's just fine with that.
This isn't your dad's 'Mad Max':
"Mad Max is not actually in the driver's seat in this movie," Hardy says. "It’s about time you had better female leads in action movies. This is not a feminist argument, it’s a person-hood situation. This is how we ought to reflect the times — not so much strong women, but just people. You know, you have a male and a female who are both just person-hood situations on both sides of the gender. I wouldn’t put it past George to come up with a transgender [hero], do you what I mean? He’s not the type of person who’s going to mince his words."
The apocalypse can be good for a laugh:
"There’s a sense of humor that George has got, a certain fearlessness in the enjoyment of that postapocalyptic world, demented fun," Hardy says. "There’s not just, like, good versus evil, you know, or 'The Road' or something like that where everything’s just like devastatingly bleak, you know? It’s a carnival, sort of a circus, sort of Vaudevillian. There is something almost Terry Gilliam-esque, Monty Pythonesque, without banging the gong. There’s almost a tongueincheek delirium. Everything is designed as a sort of ghastly, grotesque humor."
The film has a strong feminist streak:
"He’s a smart man, George, so what he’s doing is reflecting the times as well as pioneering at the same time. He’s reading the times, what’s going on," Hardy explains. "And it’s no surprise to me that he would use a character that is synonymous with Mel Gibson, the silhouette and the icon of Mad Max, to reestablish the world which he started off thirtysomething years ago, but it’s very clear that actually, right down to the shoulder pad on her left arm, [Theron] is the female protagonist of this movie.
Tom is fine with not being the hero of his own movie:
"I think that’s very, very smart of him to deliver a female lead in Max Max," Hardy says. "I remember talking to George back in Namibia about old school movie star, malefemale chemistry. How does the dynamic work between a strong alpha-male and a strong alpha-female on screen when you get them together. And for me personally it’s very important that one has to yield to the other to understand who’s going to team lead — who’s going to alpha and who’s going to bravo, as it were, in sort of a military sense. You would’ve thought that a man’s man is this and a woman’s woman is that, but none of that actually exists in a partnership where you have the chemistry between a leading man and a leading female. And I think in this one as well, Charlize led this entire movie and it shows on screen and you can see it quite clearly. One has to yield to that. Because if you fight it, you get malleted."
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