By Christopher Rosen
May 28, 2015 at 02:50 PM EDT
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Mad Max: Fury Road has been hailed as the summer’s best feminist blockbuster (sorry, Pitch Perfect 2), and star Tom Hardy seems pretty pleased with that result. During a press conference for Fury Road at the Cannes Film Festival earlier this month, Hardy was asked by film critic Peter Howell if at any point while reading the script, he thought Mad Max “was supposed to be a man’s movie.”

“No,” Hardy said. “Not for one minute. It’s kind of obvious.”

After Hardy’s dismissal of the question went viral, Howell, who writes for the Toronto Star, issued a statement to BuzzFeed about the meaning behind his initial inquiry.

My question to Tom Hardy was intended as the opposite of sexism. I was congratulating him for his willingness to share the screen with so many strong women in a franchise and genre more inclined to celebrate the male over the female. He was also willing to be in a co-lead role with Charlize Theron, in a movie called MAD MAX, no less. I think a lot of male stars might have objected to this, but Hardy is of a special breed.

But I don’t think I worded my question very well. Hardy just shrugged it off, although I don’t think he was offended by it. I think this article I wrote gives you a better idea of what I was getting at, which was to celebrate the idea of women being cast in traditionally male roles, not to scorn it.

In his piece on Fury Road, Howell wrote that Charlize Theron’s character, Furiosa, could lead to a sea change in the way blockbusters are produced.

“Whatever the reason, the timing couldn’t be better. This may come to be known as the Summer of the Alpha Female at movie theatres, with Furiosa leading the charge,” Howell wrote. Furiosa would approve.

Watch the full interchange between Hardy and Howell at the 10-minute mark in the video below.

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