One of the best things about Mad Max: Fury Road (my review) is that it’s constantly throwing a strong visual at you, offering just enough hints for you to create the origin story yourself. Backstories are always better when you’re allowed to imagine rather than just listen. Of course, humans being humans, knowing that won’t stop us from endlessly speculating and arguing with each other about it afterwards.
Fury Road‘s flame-throwing guitar player, The Doof Warrior (alternately called “Coma Doof,” apparently), is just such an almost entirely unexposited visual. While George Miller has already since weighed in on Doof’s backstory, the actor who played him, Aussie musician iOTA, has some ideas of his own.
From an interview with Audiences Everywhere:
AE: I’ve read George Miller mapped every character’s backstory prior to production. Were you aware of Coma’s backstory and how much did you keep it in mind as you filmed?
iOTA: Yeah. I knew that George had said that Coma was found by Immortan Joe in a Cave and taken under his wing and he learned to be a musician. I kind of embellished that for myself. Basically, my story was that Coma was found with his mother’s head, after she had been killed, and he was clinging to it and Immortan Joe came and found him and Coma took her face off and made the mask out of her face, to honor her when he went to war.
AE: That’s your touch? And what you kept in your head as you went out to film?
iOTA: Yes [laughs].
Cool story, bro. Er, mate. Here’s a little more on “iOTA.”
The Australian musician-actor-writer (né Sean Hape) made his film debut in his countryman Baz Luhrmann’s 2013 Fitzgerald-in-3D spectacle, The Great Gatsby, playing the bit part of Trimalchio the orchestra leader. He has been described as a “gender-bending glam-rock god,” has five albums under his belt, was nominated for an ARIA Music Award (think Aussie Grammys), and once beat out Hugh Jackman for Best Actor in a Musical at the Helpmann Awards (think Aussie Tonys). [Yahoo]
And yes, as other members of the crew have described, the prop was an actual, working guitar, that actually shot flames.
AE: From what I’ve read, your performance is very real. The flamethrower was controlled by a wah pedal?
iOTA: From a whammy bar.
AE: And you were actually suspended from a moving truck?
iOTA: Yes. It’s all real.
AE: And that’s a playable guitar?
iOTA: Yeah, Well, it made a noise. You wouldn’t want to do an album with it. It was pretty sh*t. It made a great sound and, to me, it felt perfect for the environment. In the sun and the dust in the cold, it was perfect. But it was always going to be a bit sh*t. [Audiences Everywhere]
Awesome props and music that sounds “a bit sh*t?” Hey, it worked for Kiss.