Further details of the animosity between Charlize Theron and Tom Hardy have been detailed in a new book about the making of George Miller’s 2015 action blockbuster Mad Max: Fury Road.
The co-stars were known to have a frosty relationship through the lengthy shoot in the Namibian desert, but Kyle Buchanan’s new book Blood, Sweat & Chrome: The Wild and True Story of Mad Max: Fury Road suggests Theron felt sufficiently threatened to require on -set protection from the “aggressive” Hardy.
Hardy starred as the title character in the film, played by Mel Gibson in the original trilogy. Theron was newcomer Imperator Furiosa, a lieutenant to the villain Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne) who turns against her leader to collaborate with Max while escorting young women to safety.
Speaking to Buchanan, Theron and other crew members allege a litany of unprofessional behavior on the part of Hardy, including persistent lateness causing his co-workers to wait for hours on set.
In one instance, Hardy was due on set at 8am, along with the rest of the cast and crew required that day. They included Theron, then a new mother whose baby was in childcare nearby while she worked.
Despite producers having made a “special request” for Hardy be punctual, he was more than three hours late, during which time Theron remained in position, ready to shoot. “Lei She was really going to make a point,” recalled camera operator Mark Goellnicht. “Lei She didn’t go to the bathroom, she didn’t do anything. She just sat in the War Rig. “
When Hardy finally arrived, Theron asked Hardy: “How disrespectful are you?” and said the producers should “fine the fucking cunt a hundred thousand dollars for every minute that he’s held up this crew”.
Hardy responded by “charging up to her” and 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 equalize some of it, because I didn’t feel safe.
“I don’t want to make excuses for bad behavior, 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. “
However, the producer assigned to Theron, Denise Di Novi, was barred from set by producer Doug Mitchell, meaning that Theron “still felt pretty naked and alone” on set.
“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,” Theron continued. “That’s where we could have done better, if George trusted that nobody was going to come and fuck with his vision of him but he was just going to come and help mediate situations.”
Miller’s actions led to “several weeks on that movie where I wouldn’t know what was going to come my way, and that’s not necessarily a nice thing to feel when you’re on your job. It was a little bit like walking on thin ice. “
Miller said he felt “disappointment about the process” and added: “Looking back, if I had to do it again, I would probably be more mindful.”
The contributors to Buchanan’s book broadly agree that the friction between Theron and Hardy might have perversely helped the on-screen tension, but was largely the product of bull-headedness on Hardy’s part.
Assistant cameraman Ricky Schamburg called Hardy “very provocative” and Theron the opposite, while key second assistant director Samantha McGrady called Theron “the easiest person to deal with”.
“Boy fucking howdy, was it clear that those two people hated each other,” said editor J Houston Yang. “They didn’t want to touch each other, they didn’t want to look at each other, they wouldn’t face each other if the camera wasn’t actively rolling.”
Co-star Nicholas Hoult likened the on-set atmosphere to being “on your summer holidays and the adults in the front of the car are arguing”; a comparison Theron agreed with: “It was horrible! We should not have done that; we should have been better. I can own up to that. “
Hardy responded by saying he was “in over my head in many ways”.
“The pressure on both of us was overwhelming at times. What she 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. “
The Guardian has contacted Hardy’s representatives for further comment.
Relations between Theron and Hardy thawed slightly as the shoot progressed and the plot involved the pair becoming closer, with Goellnicht crediting the change to Hardy being “such a method actor that I think he took the arc in the literal sense.”
Miller’s film won six awards at the 2016 Oscars. A further film in the series will explore the backstory of Furiosa with Anya Taylor-Joy taking over the role in place of Theron.