Mad Max: Fury Road director George Miller had some interesting names in mind during the casting process. Before Tom Hardy came on board as Max Rockatansky, Miller had auditioned numerous actors, including many future Hollywood stars. Also on his shortlist were Eminem and Rihanna, who’ve now become one of the best-selling music artists of all time.
A new book, Blood, Sweat & Chrome: The Wild and True Story of Mad Max: Fury Road by pop culture reporter Kyle Buchanan, sheds light on George Miller’s almost two-decade-long struggle to make Mad Max: Fury Road. From scouting a multitude of actors to frequently changing filming locations and behind-the-scenes trouble between Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron, the book chronicles the troublesome production of Mad Max: Fury Road through interviews with the film’s cast and crew. An excerpt from the book was recently published on Vulture.
Around 2009, George Miller and casting director Ronna Kress began scouting for actors. While casting the five wives Charlize Theron’s Furiosa escapes with in Fury Road, Miller and Kress met hundreds of actors, including Margot Robbie and Jennifer Lawrence. In the end, they even set up a meeting with pop icon Rihanna, who didn’t get the role but certainly made an impression on the makers. “Usually, actors turn up dressed very casually, but boy, Rihanna looked spectacular when she walked in. I’m not sure she was even aware of the content of the movie, so she dressed up as Rihanna, which was the right thing to do.”
At the time, Rihanna was taking the music industry by storm, producing one chart-topping album after another. Meanwhile, Eminem had established himself as a very successful rapper and had showcased his acting prowess in 8 Mile, which caught the eye of George Miller.
“He’d done 8 Mile, and I found that really interesting — I thought, He’s got that quality. We’d done the first Happy Feet with the late Brittany Murphy, and she had done 8 Mile, so I asked her what he was like and would this be something really interesting for him? She had no reservations about saying what a wonderful talent he is.”
Storyboard artist Mark Sexton even created the artwork for a blond Mad Max. “I got brought back in to redraw a bunch of storyboards in March 2007 and do a bunch of cut-and-pastes to put blond hair on Max.” Miller further added, “We did get in touch with him, though that’s as far as it went because we were going to shoot it in Australia at that point, and he simply didn’t want to leave home. I think he had the impression that if he could do it out of his home state, then he’d be up for it.” That wasn’t the first time Eminem passed on a major Hollywood production. He went on to reject Neill Blomkamp’s Elysium for the same reason (not filming in Detroit).
George Miller’s Next Film Furiosa Will Be a Prequel to Mad Max: Fury Road
For Mad Max: Fury Road, Eminem was part of an extensive, year-long search to find the right person to take over from Mel Gibson. The list also included the late Heath Ledger, Armie Hammer, Jeremy Renner, Eric Bana, Channing Tatum, and Michael Fassbender. How the addition of Eminem or Rihanna to Fury Road’s cast could have played out will always remain a mystery. But it may not be too late for them to join the action franchise.
George Miller is currently busy expanding the Mad Max franchise with a prequel cum origin story, Furiosa. Anya Taylor-Joy (The Witch, The Queen’s Gambit) will play a younger version of Imperator Furiosa (played by Charlize Theron in Fury Road). The film also stars Chris Hemsworth and Tom Burke. After several delays, Furiosa is set to begin production in Australia in March and will hit the screens on May 24, 2024.