Thirty-five years ago, George Miller re-imagined the action movie with his visceral, dystopic 1979 debut Mad Max, starring a 23-year-old Mel Gibson in one of his first movie roles. Flash forward two sequels and many decades later and the 69-year-old Miller returns with a new cast and a story that is sure to take the road chase to an entirely new realm of chaos and carnage.
In an exclusive first look at the the May 2015 film in this week’s Entertainment Weekly, we talk to Miller about what prompted his return to the beloved franchise: a story that popped into his head fully formed back in 2000 but that took more than a decade to realize. This time, Tom Hardy takes over for Gibson as the very damaged road warrior Max Rockatansky, while a shaved-headed Charlize Theron plays a bad-ass commander named Imperator Furiosa. The stars spent a harrowing seven months in the desert of Namibia to shoot the film. “It was mental in a brilliant way,” says Hardy. “You have no concrete, no coffee shops. We were in the middle of a sandpit.”
The rugged production suited Miller and his singular vision to reboot the Mad Max franchise. “I wanted to tell a linear story–a chase that starts as the movie begins and continues for 110 minutes,” says the Australian writer-director. Fury Road features few digital effects and even less dialogue, he explains. “In this crucible of very intense action, the characters are revealed.”
Also in EW’s apocalypse-themed issue, we serve up a history of end-of-days movies; offer a guide to choose your own movie cataclysm; rank the very best apocalyptic movies of all time; and report on South Korean director Bong Joon-Ho’s delightfully gonzo English-language debut, Snowpiercer, starring Chris Evans and Tilda Swinton as some of the earth’s last humans in the midst of a new ice age.
For more on apocalyptic movies, including exclusive images from Mad Max: Fury Road, pick up the latest issue of Entertainment Weekly, on stands Friday.