So, the reviews are in, and the general consensus is that Mad Max: Fury Road is melt-your-face-off awesome. The iconic leather has been passed on to Tom Hardy, and Charlize Theron is so incredible that Men’s Rights Advocates have decided to boycott. However, before Fury Road was even a glimmer in director George Miller’s eyes, he created the original Mad Max on a shoestring budget with an untested star. As Mel Gibson strode across the Australian landscape on his quest for vengeance and fuel, a classic was made. So, in honor of the release of Fury Road, here are some facts that you may not know about the original trilogy.
Before he made Mad Max, George Miller worked as an emergency room doctor.
He raised the funding for the film with this job, and he even got some ideas for the insane car effects and extreme violence of the film while he was treating car crash victims.
Mel Gibson almost didn’t audition for the lead role (allegedly).
Gibson had gotten in a bar fight the night before the audition and showed up with a black and blue face. He got a callback because “they were looking for freaks,” but when he showed up with a healed face, he was offered the lead. Some refute this story. Either way, this film made Gibson a star.
A pre-fame Judy Davis originally auditioned to play Jessie.
However, she was apparently “too strong” for the role, so it went to Joanne Samuel. This characterization was certainly a far cry from Theron’s Furiosa in Fury Road.
An old villain returns for Fury Road.
Hugh Keays-Byrne, who played gang leader Toecutter in the original Mad Max, is back as tyrannical cultist, King Immortan Joe.
Miller consulted the classics for the characterization of Max.
To flesh out the character for The Road Warrior, Miller read the works of scholar Joseph Campbell, using his “Hero’s Journey” to turn Max into more of an archetype. Gibson did his part for the characterization of Max, too. He insisted on cutting his own hair, lopping of random chunks from his head and eyebrows to look more insane.
Max is a man of even fewer words than you think.
Gibson only had 16 lines of dialogue in The Road Warrior, and two of them were, “I only came for the fuel.” I wonder if Tom Hardy is as chatty.
Permits? Who cares about permits?
Most of Mad Max was shot guerrilla style because there wasn’t really anywhere to get the appropriate permits in Australia at the time. This was probably for the best, at least for the authenticity of the film. For example, the scene when Toecutter’s gang siphons gas from a moving tanker was shot completely without a harnesses or any kind of security for the actors. The stunt driver of the tanker was required to not eat for 12 hours previous to shooting because of the likelihood that he would be injured and have to be rushed into surgery. I can’t image that that would have been cool with the permit commission had they known.
The Road Warrior was unconventionally shot.
While most movies are shot out of order due to shooting necessities, Miller decided to shoot The Road Warrior in chronological order.
Mad Max was removed from The Road Warrior for American distribution.
The first film was little seen in the states, so they were worried that calling it Mad Max 2 would be too confusing for American viewers. Mad Max made more than $100 million worldwide (the largest return-on-investment until The Blair Witch Project), but only $8 million of that was from the U.S.
Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome was not originally a Mad Max film.
It was originally planned to be a post-apocalyptic Lord of the Flies–type story about a band of feral children. Miller suggested that Max should be the adult who finds them, and the third film was added to make the trilogy.
Tina Turner’s costume in Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome was an insane DIY creation.
According to Rolling Stone, her makeshift armor weighed more than 70 pounds and was made of chicken wire, hangers, and chain mail. Now, imagine wearing that all day in the Australian desert.
The sandstorm at the end of Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome was real.
The camera plane was stuck in it, but it still managed to get some usable footage. The cast and crew had to ride out the storm in whatever shelter they could find. Gotta love that hospitable Australian outback.