If you have any questions about how good an actor Tom Hardy is, all you need to do is interview him sometime. Trying to connect the soft-spoken guy who has trouble holding eye contact when answering questions to the wild animal you see in films like “Bronson” or “The Dark Knight Rises” or, indeed, “Mad Max: Fury Road,” is nearly impossible.
When we sat down to talk about his work in the film, we were joined by his personal stuntman in the film, and I wish we'd had about five times more time to ask questions and talk about the process. One of the reasons “Fury Road” is such a wild experience is because of the expert use Miller and his team made of CG, using it to simply remove safety rigging. That allowed them to use the actual actors in more scenes than you would expect.
When you're talking about a “Mad Max” film, though, you're talking about the gold standard in actual stunts. There is a stunt in “The Road Warrior” which I've held up as my favorite of all time, and when I learned about a decade ago that it was an accident, I loved it even more. I would guess that anyone who really is a stuntman would have grown up looking at those films and hoping for a chance to do something like that. For them, working on a real “Mad Max” film is a chance to finally cut loose and do the craziest things imaginable.
While it would mean not interviewing him anymore, I would suggest to studios that Tom Hardy is best used onscreen, not in the junket environment. There are some actors who simply don't want to discuss how they do what they do, and Hardy always looks a bit like a bug on a pin in these situations. As long as you end up with a performance like the one he gives here, none of the rest of it matters. Hardy is a gifted physical performer, and he gives Max a particular sort of body language that says as much as any line of dialogue he delivers. That's what is important to me, and I have a feeling that viewers everywhere are about to get knocked out by his work as well.
“Mad Max: Fury Road” opens in theaters everywhere on Friday.