Kyle Buchanan’s new oral history book, Blood, Sweat & Chrome: The Wild And True Story Of Mad Max: Fury Road, delves into the, at times, excruciating work in front of and behind the camera needed to bring George Miller’s vision to life. However, the book also details some of the tense relationships between members of the cast—including the strained relationship between Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron.
When it comes to the duo’s dynamic during filming, Theron describes it as having “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 (our co-stars) had to deal with it in the back. It was horrible! It was not a conducive working environment. I apologize profusely,” Theron says.
In particular, the book pinpoints one confrontation between Mad Max stars which made for an ugly day on set.
“I remember vividly the day,” camera operator Mark Goellnicht says. “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 notes, “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.”
When Hardy did finally arrive on set—three hours late—Theron let him have it.
“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 recalls. “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?’”
Following the fiery conflict, Theron asked for a woman producer to be on set with her at all times for “protection.”
“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,” Theron says. “A lot of what I felt was coming my way from Doug (Mitchell, a producer) was... I’ll just say it. It was a man forgiving another man for really bad behavior, and I didn’t feel safe.”
Theron and Hardy eventually reached an understanding and continued working on the film as a team. Seven years later, Hardy now reflects on the ways he could have helped made the set a better environment.
“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.”