Kyle Buchanan’s new oral history book, Blood, Sweat & Chrome, details the production process behind the award-winning and acclaimed 2015 action film Mad Max: Fury Road. In an excerpt from the publication, provided by Vanity Fair, the film’s crew have candidly discussed the infamous row between Charlize Theron and Tom Hardy, with the former claiming that she was “scared shitless” due to her co-star’s aggressive behavior.
The two stars have spoken about their differences on the set of George Miller’s film in the past, though who knew that they were literally at each other’s throats during the entire shooting schedule? Things apparently got so out of control that a producer had to come down and mediate the situation.
While assistant director P. J. Voeten claims that the animosity started as early as pre-production, the crew has detailed a particular instance when things just blew off beyond the point of reconciliation.
“I remember vividly the day. The call on set was eight o’clock,” recounts Mark Goellnicht, camera operator on Fury Road. “Charlize got there right at eight o’clock, sat in the War Rig, knowing that Tom’s never going to be there at eight, even though they made a special request for him to be there on time. He was notorious for never being on time in the morning. If the call time was in the morning, forget it — he didn’t show up.”
Camera assistant Ricky Schamburg adds, “Whether that was some kind of power play or not, I don’t know, but it felt deliberately provocative. If you ask me, he kind of knew that it was really pissing Charlize off, because she’s professional and she turns up really early.”
“Eleven o’clock. She’s now in the War Rig, sitting there with her makeup on and a full costume for three hours,” Goellnicht continues. “Tom turns up, and he walks casually across the desert. She jumps out of the War Rig, and she starts swearing her head off at him, saying, ‘Fine the fucking cunt a hundred thousand dollars for every minute that he’s held up this crew,’ and ‘How disrespectful you are!’ She was right. Full rant. She screams it out. It’s so loud, it’s so windy –– he might’ve heard some of it, but he charged up to her up and went, ‘What did you say to me?'”
The assistant says Hardy was “quite aggressive,” and that the incident was a turning point for production because Theron said she wanted someone as protection. Miller sent down producer Denise Di Novi to help out with the situation, which somehow alleviated some of the tension, though Theron says she still felt “pretty naked and alone.”
Hardy also lends his perspective on the matter in Buchanan’s book, saying: “In hindsight, I 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.”
Fortunately for everyone involved, after shooting the bike scene, the two managed to find something of a common ground despite their methodical differences. The change in attitude was apparently so palpable that it gave Goellnicht “goosebumps.”
As assistant director Chris O’Hara says, a lot of things have been said about Tom and Charlize, but at the end of the day, “It was just two people trying to do the best job they could.”