The “Mad Max: Fury Road” oral history book “Blood, Sweat & Chrome” is now available for purchase, and with it comes a lot of new information about the set feud between leading actors Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron. As Theron explains in the book (via Vanity Fair), “It was like two parents in the front of the car. We were either fighting or we were icing each other — I don’t know which one is worse — and they had to deal with it in the back. It was horrible! We should not have done that; we should have been better. I can own up to that.”
Both Theron and Hardy have spoken about the feud in the past, citing the film’s grueling production schedule and an overall lack of trust in each other as inciting incidents. But as “Blood, Sweat & Chrome” reveals, there was a specific set incident that exploded the situation and changed how the set operated moving forward.
“I remember vividly the day,” camera operator Mark Goellnicht said. “The call on set was eight o’clock. 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.”
First assistant camera Ricky Schamburg noted, “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.”
Hardy showed up three hours late to set that day, while Theron waited in the War Rig with full costume and makeup on.
“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!'” Goellnicht noted. “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 and went, ‘What did you say to me?'”
“He was quite aggressive. She really felt threatened, and that was the turning point,” Goellnicht added.
After this confrontation, Theron got producer Denise Di Novi to come down to the film’s set in the Namibia desert to shadow her and ensure there would be no further conflicts.
“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,” Theron said. “I kind of put my foot down. George then said, ‘Okay, well, if Denise comes…’ He was open to it and that kind of made me breathe a little bit, because it felt like I would have another woman understanding what I was up against.
“In hindsight, I was in over my head in many ways,” Hardy said about the confrontation. “The pressure on both of us was overwhelming at times. What she needed was a better, perhaps more experienced partner in me… I’d like to think that now that I’m older and uglier, I could rise to that occasion.”
Despite their set tension, Theron and Hardy both stayed on “Mad Max: Fury Road” through the end of filming. The movie grossed $374 million at the worldwide box office and won six Oscars from 10 total nominations.