Mad Max: Fury Road has only just hit theaters this month, but the origins of the fourth film in the franchise from series creator and director George Miller goes back several years. With the idea’s germination in 1998, the film lingered in development hell for several years before it became clear to Miller that a new actor would be required to take the reins of the part from Mel Gibson. Apparently, the primary choice for Miller to fill the part was the late Heath Ledger.
Speaking to The Daily Beast, Miller told them that he would often have conversations with the actor about the part of Max and the world of the films whenever they found themselves in the same place.
Every time Heath would come through Sydney, he’d call in and we’d chat about Max. He had that same thing that Mel and Tom Hardy have — that maleness, charisma, and restless energy, which you need to play a relatively still character. The world lost someone great when he went. Tom was the next to walk through the door that had that vibe.
Ledger, of course, was found dead in New York City from an accidental drug overdose in January 2008, at the age of 28. At the time of his death, he was working on director Terry Gilliam’s film The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, and had recently completed work on Christopher Nolan’s second Batman film The Dark Knight, where his performance as the Joker earned him a posthumous Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.
Coincidentally, the role of Max went to the next actor to play a primary villain in Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy, that being Tom Hardy. Hardy is reportedly signed for three more appearances as the stoic Wasteland wanderer, presuming that the film ultimately becomes profitable at the box office. While it had a strong showing in its debut weekend considering it’s status as an R-rated post-apocalyptic sci-fi film, it missed the top spot due to a very strong outing for Pitch Perfect 2.
Still, critics and audiences are heaping praise on Fury Road as one of the most visually inventive and original films of the last several years. For more on Mad Max as it happens, keep an eye on GeekNation.
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