When the name Tom Hardy is attached to a project, audiences take notice. From Peaky Blinders to Mad Max and Warrior, Hardy has continued to disguise himself in characters that break through the screen and enter into the consciousness of viewers around the world. These are characters that stay with you, that become something of an icon in the annals of pop culture and movie viewing, that speak volumes of the acting chops and intensity of the man that is Hardy. But according to co-star Charlize Theron, Hardy made for a difficult filming experience on Mad Max: Fury Road.
In a new book about the making of George Miller’s 2015 action blockbuster, details have emerged of on-set animosity between Theron and Hardy. The co-stars were known to have a tense relationship throughout the shoot which took place in the Namibian desert, but author Kyle Buchanan has now described how Theron felt sufficiently threatened to require on-set protection from the “aggressive” Hardy.
The allegations come from Buchanan’s new book, Blood, Sweat & Chrome: The Wild and True Story of Mad Max: Fury Road. In the film, Hardy played the title character, originally played by Mel Gibson in the trilogy. Theron played Imperator Furiosa, a lieutenant to the villain Immortan Joe who turns against her leader to collaborate with Max while escorting young women to safety.
In an interview with Buchanan, Theron described a litany of unprofessional behaviour from Hardy, which included such persistent lateness that his co-workers were forced to wait for hours on set. At one time, Hardy was due on set at 8am, along with the rest of the cast and crew, including Theron who was then a new mother with a child in daycare nearby. Hardy instead arrived more than three hours late, during which time Theron remained in position, ready to film. “She was really going to make a point,” recalled camera operator Mark Goellnicht. “She didn’t go to the bathroom, didn’t do anything. She just sat in the War Rig.”
When Hardy finally arrived, Theron asked him: “How disrespectful are you?” She added that the producers should “fine the f**king c**t a hundred thousand dollars for every minute that he’s held up this crew.”
Hardy charged up to her, saying: “What did you say to me?” Goellnicht said Hardy seemed “quite aggressive” and that Theron “really felt threatened.” “That was the turning point, because then she said, ‘I want someone as protection.’”
Theron added, “It got to a place where it was kind of out of hand, and there was a sense that maybe sending a woman producer down could maybe equalise some of it, because I didn’t feel safe. I don’t want to make excuses for bad behaviour, but it was a tough shoot. Now, I have a very clear perspective on what went down. I don’t think I had that clarity when we were making the movie. I was in survival mode; I was really scared shitless.”
Despite producer Denise Di Novi being assigned to Theron, Di Novi was barred from set by producer Doug Mitchell meaning Theron still felt “pretty naked and alone”. She added, “You understand the needs of a director who wants to protect his set, but when push comes to shove and things get out of hand, you have to be able to think about that in a bigger sense.”
She added, “That’s where we could have done better, if George trusted that nobody was going to come and fuck with his vision but was just going to come and help mediate situations.”
Co-star Nicholas Hoult described the on-set atmosphere as one comparable to being “on your summer holidays and the adults in the front of the car are arguing.” Hardy has since said that he was in over his head. “The pressure on both of us was overwhelming at times. What she [Theron] needed was a better, perhaps more experienced partner in me. That’s something that can’t be faked. I’d like to think that now that I’m older and uglier, I could rise to that occasion,” he said.