Years after his original trilogy with Mel Gibson, George Miller set about making a fourth post-apocalyptic movie but this time with Tom Hardy as the lead opposite Charlize Theron’s Imperator Furiosa. Mad Max: Fury Road was showered with five star praise, 10 Oscars nominations and was even named the best movie of the 21st century by Empire readers. But the blockbuster’s incredible journey began five years prior in 2010, when Hardy stormed through the audition process against Armie Hammer and Jeremy Renner.
At the time, Hardy was an up-and-coming Brit who’d captured Hollywood’s eye after starring in 2008’s Bronson. And he soon followed up the prisoner biopic with a supporting role in Christopher Nolan’s Inception opposite Leonardo DiCaprio.
According to Kyle Buchanan’s Blood, Sweat & Chrome: The Wild and True Story of Mad Max: Fury Road, the future Venom star caught the attention of director Miller because he shared the same paradoxical charisma as Gibson held.
The Aussie filmmaker said: “Mel and Tom are very accessible and warm, and you feel you can be their best friend — and yet at the same time, there is always something hidden, something held in reserve, inaccessible. I think you can feel that on the screen, and Tom had that quality. I saw it in the work he’d done in Bronson.”
Hardy was initially daunted by the Mad Max audition, feeling the character was synonymous with Gibson.
The rising star became the front-runner, but still had to beat Renner and Hammer to the role.
He read alongside the latter, in a performance in which the Venom star “gnashed his teeth and spat at” the Call Me By Your Name lead.
So impressed by Hardy, Hammer told Miller that his fellow contender needed to be Max more than he did.
Miller said: “I had the same feeling about Tom that I had when Mel Gibson first walked into the room: There was a kind of edgy charm, the charisma of animals. You don’t know what’s going on in their inner depths, and yet they’re enormously attractive.”
Hardy added: “I was excited to get the job. It’s such a big fish to land that the seesaw effect, the other side of that, was everybody loves Mel as Max and nobody’s gonna want me. So it’s like being the new boy at school and set up in some way for failure immediately.”
Of course, in the end, the blockbuster totally paid off helping further propel Hardy’s Hollywood stardom.
Blood, Sweat & Chrome: The Wild and True Story of Mad Max: Fury Road by Kyle Buchanan is out now.