‘Mad Max’ Director George Miller Discusses His Plans For Upcoming Sequel ‘Fury Road’

“When you actually work on a film, they do invade you,” renowned Australian filmmaker George Miller said in an interview with IndieWire this week while promoting his latest movie, the computer-animated sequel Happy Feet 2. “The characters, they’re like imaginary characters in your head and they’re sort of part of your family in a strange way. So like family, they keep on intruding.”

The former physician-turned-director wasn’t referring to the singing and dancing penguins of the Happy Feet movies, but rather about the characters of the Mad Max trilogy that made his star Mel Gibson an international household name and established Miller as a master orchestrator of grand scale action and emotional complexity.

After 1985’s Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome the director moved on to making intimate dramas like Lorenzo’s Oil and family films such as Babe: Pig in the City and Happy Feet and had seemingly taken his last trip into the scorched earth behind the wheel of Max’s V-8 Interceptor. But a minor incident later in Miller’s life triggered a sudden burst of inspiration that would lead to the revival of one of the most entertaining and influential action franchises in cinema history.

“14 years ago, I remember the moment when I was walking across a street, a crossing,” Miller remembered. “While I was in the middle of the road, I got this sudden flash of a story, and by the time I got across the street, I realized, oh my God – that’s a “˜Mad Max’ movie! It was the core idea.” Despite the inspiration Miller was very reluctant to return to the world he created back in the late 1970’s. “The last thing I ever wanted to do was a “˜Mad Max’ movie, so I pushed it away,” the director said.

Try though he did Miller couldn’t completely exorcise a new Mad Max film from his imagination.

“Four years after that [in 2001], I was catching a long plane ride back from Los Angeles to Sydney, through the night, and I was in that hypnologic state between sleep and wakefulness, and the movie, a version of that movie, played out in my head – not fully formed, but very distinct,” he said. “So I thought, “˜Oh, here we go,’ and of its own bidding really; I didn’t intend to think about it. And then that just kept on happening, and suddenly you realize that you’re going to make another one.”

For the past decade the director has been attempting to make a fourth Mad Max film, tentatively titled Fury Road, but has run into countless delays and difficulties during the prolonged pre-production stage. Originally the film was to have Gibson return to the iconic role of a former policeman roaming the desolate and dangerous roads of a post-apocalyptic Australia battling roving gangs of leather-bound marauders, but filming was postponed back in 2003 when the war in Iraq compelled Miller and his production company to move the production out of Namibia. The project lost its momentum and eventually shut down completely.

But in 2009 Miller got the ball rolling on Fury Road once again, but by that time Gibson had dropped out of the lead role. Jeremy Renner was rumored to be in the running to take up Gibson’s mantle, but last year Tom Hardy, on a post-Inception hot streak that also saw him nab the plum role of the villain Bane in next summer’s The Dark Knight Rises, was announced as the new Mad Max. But Miller has no intention of making his new lead actor attempt to duplicate Gibson’s legendary performance. “He’s a rebooted Mad Max, but it’s a new interpretation,” the director stated.

“We made it very clear from the outset that it would be crazy to try to impersonate what Mel had done, but Tom [like] Mel and Heath Ledger; these guys all have very similar kind of maleness, I find. I don’t know, they somehow remind me of big cats – they’re mesmerizing to look and be with, but you don’t know what they’re going to do at any moment.”

But Miller also stressed that this new Max will be operating within the confines of the same story he originally designed for Gibson, only slightly expanded.

“Obviously I’ve worked on [the script] since, and we’ve got the whole movie designed – we’ve got 150 big vehicles built – and the world has evolved. I hope I’ve evolved, and I hope the movie’s evolved. But it’s pretty similar; at its core, it’s not that different.”

Mad Max: Fury Road is expected to go into production early next year but has no theatrical release date set right now.

[Source: IndieWire]

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