Yesterday brought the sad news that Mad Max: Fury Road star Hugh Keays-Byrne had passed away at the age of 73. The veteran actor hadn’t been particularly active over the last few years, but it seems fitting his final big screen role would be as Immortan Joe in George Miller’s incredible blockbuster given his long association with the filmmaker that dates back to an appearance in the 1979 original as Toecutter, while he was also set to play Martian Manhunter in Miller’s Justice League: Mortal, one of the most famous movies never made.
Keays-Byrne amassed a huge number of credits throughout his career, but despite being a Shakespearean actor by trade, his most recognizable roles came in genre fare. As well as Mad Max, there was also sci-fi disaster pic The Chain Reaction, dystopian thriller The Blood of Heroes, literary adaptations Moby Dick and Journey to the Center of the Earth, which aired as TV miniseries, along with a guest spot on Farscape as Grunchik.
Fury Road co-star Charlize Theron took to social media yesterday to pay tribute to Keays-Byrne after learning of his passing, and you can check out what she had to say below.
RIP Hugh Keays-Byrne 😔 It’s amazing you were able to play an evil warlord so well cause you were such a kind, beautiful soul. You will be deeply missed my friend. pic.twitter.com/kXDhNs5jEU
— Charlize Theron (@CharlizeAfrica) December 2, 2020
A post-apocalyptic action blockbuster doesn’t stand out as the type of thing to gain much in the way of awards season momentum, but Mad Max: Fury Road transcended the genre to find widespread critical acclaim when it bulldozed into theaters in the summer of 2015. In fact, no movie won more Oscars the following year than Miller’s masterpiece, which scooped six prizes in the technical categories as well as further nominations for Best Picture, Best Director and Best Cinematography, with Keays-Byrne’s Immortan Joe at the forefront as the villain of the piece.