‘Mad Max’ Director Says ‘There’s No Excuse’ for Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron’s ‘Fury Road’ Set Feud: Tom ‘Had to Be Coaxed Out of His Trailer’

With his “Mad Max: Fury Road” prequel movie “Furiosa” gearing up for both its world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival and its theatrical release later this month, director George Miller recently spoke to The Telegraph and reflected on the notorious feud that broke out between stars Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron during the grueling “Fury Road” production. Miller said at the center of the feud was the simple fact that “they were just two very different performers.”

“Tom has a damage to him but also a brilliance that comes with it, and whatever was going on with him at the time, he had to be coaxed out of his trailer,” Miller said, more or less confirming reports that Hardy’s tardiness drew a wedge between him and his co-star. “Whereas Charlize was incredibly disciplined – a dancer by training, which told in the precision of her performance – and always the first one on set.”

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“I’m an optimist, so I saw their behavior as mirroring their characters, where they had to learn to co-operate in order to ensure mutual survival,” Miller added. “There’s no excuse for it, and I think there’s a tendency in this business to use great performances as an excuse for other disruption that could be avoided.”

Theron explained in the “Mad Max: Fury Road” oral history book “Blood, Sweat & Chrome” that her relationship with Hardy on the film’s set “was like two parents in the front of the car. 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.”

Both have actors have since taken accountability for the “Fury Road” feud, citing the film’s grueling production schedule and an overall lack of trust in each other as inciting incidents. The movie’s camera operator Mark Goellnicht said in the oral history book that there was one “explosive” encounter that really ignited the tension between the performers.

“The call on set was eight o’clock. Charlize got there right at eight o’clock, sat in the War Rig, knowing that Tom’s never going to be there at eight even though they made a special request for him to be there on time,” Goellnicht said. “He was notorious for never being on time in the morning. If the call time was in the morning, forget it — he didn’t show up.”

First assistant camera Ricky Schamburg noted, “Whether that was some kind of power play or not, I don’t know, but it felt deliberately provocative. If you ask me, he kind of knew that it was really pissing Charlize off, because she’s professional and she turns up really early.”

Hardy allegedly showed up to set three hours late, all while Theron waited in the War Rig with full costume and makeup on. Goellnicht remembered Hardy finally showing up to set and Theron cursing him out for being disrespectful. After this confrontation, Theron got producer Denise Di Novi to come down to the film’s set in the Namibia desert to shadow her and ensure there would be no further conflicts.

Speaking to The Telegraph, Miller said that he spoke with his new “Furiosa” stars Anya Taylor-Joy (taking over the title role from Theron) and Chris Hemsworth before production began and shared the following message: “You have to be obsessive about safety – physical safety, as the shoot goes on and fatigue sets in, but also psychological safety. It’s not like the wild old days.”

“Furiosa” opens in theaters May 24 from Warner Bros.

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