She’s an Amazon, a beautiful powerhouse whose sharpest weapon is her mind. And the character she played in “Mad Max: Fury Road” was no slouch either.
Charlize Theron’s fierce Imperator Furiosa was arguably the star of “Mad Max: Fury Road,” the latest entry in director George Miller’s franchise. Furiosa is that rarity in Hollywood: a female lead, terrifying and compassionate in turn, and every bit the male lead’s equal. Theron recently chatted with The Envelope about the role, the shoot and the repercussions. Sporting a cropped haircut, at one point she jokingly asked if she looked like Justin Bieber.
This from the woman who shaved her head for the role, unbidden?
It felt right for the character, and also felt logistically right for the long shoot. But it’s weird, sometimes you tap into something you can’t explain. Once I got George to commit, and he felt it was the right thing to do, then we were just fearless with it.
How long were you filming in southern Africa?
Seven or eight months, but we were also there three months for rehearsal. We went out there and the whole stunt department was set up already.
What was the shoot like?
We didn’t have a script, or scene numbers. We had storyboards. For 138-whatever days, we were shooting one giant scene. So much of this movie was in George’s head, so there was a lot of trusting we had to do. There was a lot of fear behind it. Now I look at the movie and think a lot of that actual fear came into play, and that’s really how we felt certain days. It’s like, “What’s going on?” It was definitely the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do.
One of the biggest surprises of the summer movie season was the revelation that the wildly anticipated Mad Max reboot, which featured Tom Hardy extremely prominently as the new post-apocalyptic hero in the bonkers trailers, actually belonged to another character â€” a woman. At Cannes, where the film premiered, Hardy dismissed the publicâ€™s expectation that Mad Max â€œwas supposed to be a manâ€™s movieâ€: â€œNo,â€ he scoffed. â€œNot for one minute. Itâ€™s kind of obvious.â€
Charlize Theronâ€™s Imperator Furiosa was a gritty and ruthless action star, the heir to Sigourney Weaver and Linda Hamiltonâ€™s cinematic alpha females, and her quest for revenge against the draconian Immortan Joe drove the narrative of Mad Max: Fury Road. Her prominence in the film is hardly subversive, but it was a slight twist that director George Miller certainly enjoyed. â€œWhen I met with George, I believed him when he said to me, â€˜I want to create a female character that can stand next to Max,â€™â€ says Theron, in one of the filmâ€™s Blu-ray extras. â€œHe was so excited about creating an anti-heroic woman, who was really driven by these very, very pure human flaws.â€
Fury Road, which is already available as a digital download and arrives on Blu-ray and DVD on Sept. 1, was the rare summer blockbuster to charm the critics, grossing more than $152 million and generating ripples of Oscar buzz in the process. In a year not lacking for standout female performances, Theronâ€™s Furiosa might not make the final shortlist like Weaver did for Aliens in 1987. But her work deserves a close look, one that she and collaborators discuss extensively in these two special featurettes.