Opening this weekend is George Miller’s masterpiece Mad Max: Fury Road. Loaded with some of the craziest action set pieces I’ve ever seen, Fury Road is the kind of movie you need to see on the biggest and loudest screen. Trust me, Fury Road is not just a great action movie; it’s great cinema, and it’s the type of film we need to support on opening weekend. As most of you know from the numerous trailers and featurettes, Tom Hardy stars as Max Rockatansky, a former cop who’s completely broken after losing his family. However, when Max crosses paths with Charlize Theron‘s Imperator Furiosa, he agrees to join her cause to help a group of girls reach a safe place and escape Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne). Fury Road also stars Nicholas Hoult, Riley Keough, Zoe Kravitz, Courtney Eaton, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Nathan Jones and Abbey Lee.
At the Los Angeles press day I landed an exclusive interview with Tom Hardy. He talked about making Fury Road, filming on location in Namibia, what he learned from making such a massive movie, collaborating with George Miller, how the film has one of the “coolest female leads ever”, the status of his FX series Taboo, why he had to drop out of David Ayer’s Suicide Squad, how he’d love to play the Punisher, why he’s still shooting Alejandro González Iñárritu’s The Revenant, a mysterious DC project at Warner Bros., and a lot more.
TOM HARDY: Did you enjoy it?
Dude…Yeah. I can literally say, out of all my years of seeing movies, I have never seen anything like this.
What day did you realize when you were filming, ‘Holy fuck. Are we gonna get through this thing?’ Because of the practicality and the actual filming of this thing.
HARDY: I think day one, as soon as we landed. Because we were in the middle of nowhere—well actually Namibia is not in the middle of nowhere, if you’re in Namibia it’s absolutely fine. If you’re logistically trying to create an X amount of hundred million dollar movie, and you’re that far away from Los Angeles and you’re that far away from Australia which your home base is, Namibia is right in the middle of both of those places in the middle of the desert and it could be hard to get anything to and from that place and all that crap. Those vehicles, the stars, the camera crew, the actors; just a kit, and then to take that kit and that equipment that you need and move it all around the locations that you have to manifest the huge infrastructure and epic nature of that movie. Day one since you arrived there it was so, ‘This is a beast’ and how do you eat an elephant? Which I suppose –metaphorically speaking– would be a mouthful at a time. So it became a very methodological approach, a step at a time for seven months or whatever it was. But every day was a big day for stunts and you knew that something could inevitably go wrong at any given time, so a lot of care was taken to avoid any of this. And not to mention, it’s not like a military film. You’re seeing military vehicles, it would kind of make more sense to see this kind of organization; but what you saw was some kind of Hell’s Angels, S&M, Cirque Du Soleil fetish party. In the middle of the desert. So it was kind of surreal as well to see this military campaign going on in the middle of the desert, as some kind of strange festival, an orchestration of mad, epic stunts, violence, and surrealism.
Yeah, it’s crazy. Are there a lot of deleted scenes in the movie that you remember filming that didn’t make the finished film?
HARDY: No. Everything that George [Miller] had in a 300 page sort of comic book document, frame by frame is accurately executed an up on the screen, but much more relentless and hydraulic and dynamic than it would be in a comic book.
HARDY: It was not until I saw the finished piece and I saw the latest version last night that I realized fully what George was trying to articulate on the floor. Because you couldn’t explain what I saw, and we wouldn’t have known—it was like trying to herd cats. He was trying to explain to us a color we hadn’t seen yet, so we were trying to understand but couldn’t have fully understood.
The thing that really struck me is that even though film is a hundred years old or over a hundred years old, I really think that he accomplished something that has not been done, in terms of telling the story. It’s innovative filmmaking, even with everything else that he’s done. Did you take that away from the film or what did you take away from the finished version?
HARDY: I can see what you’re saying, I think. I took a lot away from the film, to be fair. I mean a lot of it is hard to explain because I’d never done anything like this before. So now I think having worked with Alejandro [González Iñárritu]—now we’re eight months into it in another big sort of epic—my shoulders are wider enough to have the patience of how long it takes to get things of an epic nature done. So there is no end [Laughs], it’s easier to be, not patient, but to give myself over to a process which is seemingly relentless and unending, because I know there is an end to it and the results that can also be unequivocally masterful and brilliant. So I’ve learned that as a stretch. It was a muscle stretch as a performer because I’ve never done anything that big before, so Fury Road was a massive education for that.
As for filmmaking terms, I think George is somebody who challenges himself even though he’s getting up there towards 70 years of age now. This is a movie that one might attribute to a much more youthful perhaps director and a real mistake, because this is a wise man’s action movie, this is a man who’s had years and years of thoughts and meditation on his own. Everything from the original Mad Max to Babe, Happy Feet, which is historic and he’s really visited his world of which he’s created an entire culture, like a counterculture and a cult as it were. He’s really invested in it. He’s not come back and mad a superficial action movie, he’s come back and done three immediate things: He’s tested himself to a point where not only has he upped the finance behind his movie and subsequent downstream—there’s also films, and concepts, scripts, and comic books, and all kinds of stuff in the offing for George and a wealth of material on Mad Max. But also he pushed himself to a point where he got his team to do things that they hadn’t done before, like the stunt teams.
Chris Nolan would ask his folks to flip a truck or to take a plane out of the sky and that is an extensively difficult live-action stunt to do, because you want to see it done properly because it brings the audience in a bit closer as opposed to CGI or visual effects. George wanted to do that for an entire movie, so he demanded a huge amount of pressure of his stunt department and his drivers, they challenged them and they had to make that come true, and then you needed to cohesively hybrid that between the narrative storytelling with the characters and dialogue and physical action from the actors. They would seamlessly sort of blend it together with this action performance also combined together in a stylized design element, all of it is just his signature.
So he’s pushed himself there, and then if you listen to the soundtrack, again, George Miller, you can’t sell George Miller anything, he chooses what he wants, he goes out there he finds it. You can torture him, but ultimately George is very clear about what he wants and methodically with due diligence picks exactly what he wants to fulfill his vision. And he chose that dubstep and mixed it with like hard vehicle sort of sounds and ambience sounds. The man has one foot in the future, he’s in the present and he has a legacy of the past drawn together, so he’s challenged himself and he’s got a mythology there’s nothing underneath this epic movie.
That’s why I said out of all the movies I’ve seen, I’ve never seen anything like this.
HARDY: Makes sense what you’re saying, I guess I hear you.
It’s fucking bonkers and awesome.
HARDY: And then the next thing he does is he says it’s Mad Max and he actually delivers arguably one of the fucking coolest female leads ever, and she’s an amputee [Laughs]. As if it isn’t enough to have a female lead who’s like a person of great strength, let alone a female lead, but she’s got one arm. So, he’s killing it, right across the board. George’s mind is I think sacred, of sorts, and he articulates in great sensitivity so I think so there’s nothing glib.
Before I run out of time with you, which is gonna come up very quick, I put on twitter I was gonna be talking to you and I always like to ask some questions people ask me via twitter. The first thing is, the status of Taboo.
HARDY: Oh, okay, alright. The status of Taboo is I should be in the writers room right now [Laughs] and I’m not, I’m here, and that’s ok because I’m gonna dive right in as soon as I get back.
When do you film that?
HARDY: So yeah, clock is really ticking on that one.
The next thing, a lot of people want to know why it didn’t work out with Suicide Squad, because there was a lot of talk that you were gonna do it.
HARDY: Yeah that’s absolutely right. Warner Bros. is my home studio and I love them so I was really bummed out and I wanted to work on that and I know the script is really fucking alley. And I also know what’s gonna happen with The Joker and Harley Quinn in that, which I won’t give away too much…it’s fucking alley. And that whole territory is something that I would certainly—I mean, everybody loves The Joker, everybody loves The Joker, and Will Smith is a dope guy and all that, but everybody loves The Joker and that’s gonna I think be a very important film for fans. Me personally, there’s a very practical element as to why I’ve missed out on that foray, it’s because Alejandro has overshot by 3 months so I’ve got to go back out to Patagonia or Alaska to continue shooting The Revenant which has turned into a much bigger beast than we thought, but that also looks exceptional.
So it’s literally just due to commitments on another film.
HARDY: Suicide Squad started filming a month ago, or three weeks ago, yeah?
Yeah, a few weeks ago.
HARDY: Yeah, literally we wrapped in Calgary for now until we go back in July. It would have smashed the two, I would’ve had a beard. Just not gonna happen so I got ass-slammed, technically, out of Suicide Squad, gutted, so I had to hand it out to Joel Kinnaman, who will do an amazing job. It’s just I got bumped out, and that’s cool that’s the way it is.
My last thing for you, a few people asked me, there were rumors you were going to do Sandman with Drew Goddard when he was doing Sinister Six. Is that true, not true?
HARDY: I’ve never had a conversation about that, although I have heard in the offing the same news myself. Because I was away working at the time. It was this time last year wasn’t it? Because I remember, Doctor Strange was in the offing?
HARDY: And then the Sandman was in the offing, and there was something else that was sent with Suicide Squad, but Warner Bros. came in and said, ‘This is what’s going on’ and obviously you know, I’m Warner Bros.
Sure. Well, I heard they have a few more superhero movies, maybe one or two that they’re developing [Laughs].
HARDY: I want The Punisher… I want The Punisher, or Splinter Cell, I want something…I don’t know what I want.
I have to go, but I will say that you as Punisher could be very interesting.
HARDY: I’m not big enough to be The Punisher, I’m 5’9” [Laughs].
But I actually think that adds to the character.
HARDY: Frank Castle, I would love it. Is that him, isn’t it?
Yeah. It’s Frank Castle.
HARDY: Yeah, I would fucking love to do that. I actually got something cooking with Warner Bros. which is also a comic book, it’s a DC thing which is kind of…
Oh you should really share because I’m not a journalist, no one’s recording this.
HARDY: It’s really good actually, it contains elements of all kinds of stuff. From Ocean’s Eleven, to Batman, you can get all the wrappers out and it would be a big, really cool, Technicolor, Pulp Fiction…It’s a psychological fuckfest, it’s absolutely awesome. It’s as if you would take Transmetropolitan and make it happen, but it’s not that out there it’s something which is much more real world. It could be like Heat, it could be fucking awesome. Let me tell you what it is, try and guess.
I’m not gonna guess because I have to go, because he’s gonna kill me. But I just wanna know…
No, but you know what I’m saying. I’m trying to be respectful with the time. My thing is, they have a schedule through 2020 that they’ve announced movies. Is what you wanna do something that’s not on that schedule?
HARDY: It’s not even a movie.
So it’s something you’ve seen…
HARDY: It’s already… It’s real estate, it’s prime real estate which is sitting there right under everybody’s nose that no one’s really thought about yet and it goes TV and movie, it’s awesome. I can’t believe that nobody has even–I know they thought of it but no one has actually blown life into it yet.
Well, sometimes it takes the star or the person to drive…
HARDY: You’d need a lot of stars, it would be fucking awesome, but it’s smart.
Yeah. I think you have a little bit of juice though, you might be able to bring something to light.
HARDY: I don’t have any juice, I don’t have any juice.
You might be able to get things pushed forward. But I have to tell you, I do hope that there’s something else in the future whether it’d be Frank or DC or something.
HARDY: I’d love that.
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