What happened behind the scenes of Mad Max: Fury Road

The making of the post-apocalyptic masterpiece that is 2015's Mad Max: Fury Road was a long, grueling journey. It took more than a decade of dealing with casting troubles, production shutdowns, and reshoots to get the movie made. But in the end, the world received a masterpiece. Here's how it all went down.

An idea that wouldn't die

The idea for Mad Max: Fury Road originally came to director George Miller back in 1998. According to the New York Post, Miller was crossing an LA intersection when the story came to him, but rather than writing it down so he wouldn't forget it, Miller chose to abandon it. He'd already made three Mad Max films and had no desire to make another, feeling there was nothing left to say. However, the idea took on a life of its own. In Miller's words, "I kept pushing the idea aside, but it kept growing." But once the plot finally solidified in Miller's head, and he knew he had to make this movie, it met with more obstacles that would make a normal person just walk away.

A garden in Australia and September 11, 2001

Filming on Mad Max: Fury Road was set to take place in Broken Hill, Australia, where the first three movies were shot. However, production got hit with a rain delay. Miller told The Hollywood Reporter that, for the first time in 15 years, Broken Hill got rain, and a lot of it—so much that flowers grew. This wasn't really the best setting for a post-apocalyptic story. New locations had to be scouted, and eventually Africa became the new shooting locale. But then another delay hit filming: the September 11 attacks. With the attacks, the American dollar lost value against Australia's, transporting equipment overseas took longer and shipping costs ballooned as well. With all this, production shut down. It was not a lovely day.

Mel Gibson goes mad

Eventually production began again, and the film needed a star. And who better to play the part of Max Rockatansky than the original star Mel Gibson? But that wasn't to be. For starters, Mel Gibson was originally set to reprise the role, according to The Daily Beast. However, he had to drop out of the role after his highly publicized meltdown—the anti-Semitic one in 2006, not the one where he threatened his girlfriend Oksana Grigorieva in 2010. Meanwhile, Miller said at one point that he never actually wanted Gibson back as Max, feeling he was too old. Miller stated Gibson's return, "would be like having Sean Connery turning up in Daniel Craig's James Bond movie." Either way, Gibson was out, and Miller set his eyes on a younger star to don the leather jacket: then-rising star Heath Ledger.

Heath Ledger Dies

According to The Daily Beast, Miller began courting Ledger in 2006, feeling he possessed a certain "maleness, charisma, and restless energy, which you need to play a relatively still character." So Miller found the perfect Max, but while Miller finished other projects, like Happy Feet, Ledger tragically died. Without a star, Mad Max: Fury Road went on hiatus again, while Miller wandered the wasteland in search of another star, which took him a while.

Miller finds Tom Hardy

Miller vetted a few potential actors to lead the film as Max Rockatansky, one of them being relative newcomer Tom Hardy. And while Hardy was excited to take the role, he also felt some trepidation. In 2009, Hardy spoke to MTV, saying that he didn't think he could live up to the iconic character. Lucky for Hardy, Miller thought otherwise, and selected him to play Max in June 2010. With a star chosen, filming was set to begin, but it was anything but a smooth road from there.

120 days of filming begins

After floating around in a two-year holding pattern, filming for Mad Max: Fury Road started on June 26, 2012, in the Namib Desert. The fact that the area gets less than an inch of rain a year made it the perfect post-apocalyptic setting for the film. Fortunately, cast and crew were there for the winter (Namibia is below the equator), as summer temperatures can exceed 113 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and drop below freezing at night. Instead, everyone had to contend with a comfortable 77 degrees. And while that wouldn't lead everyone on set to becoming addicted to water, things still weren't all rainbows and sunshine.

Things get tough for the five brides

Surprisingly, Immortan Joe's wives Zoe Kravitz, Riley Keough, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Abbey Lee, and Courtney Eaton didn't find six months in the desert all that fun. The set conditions weighed on them. Kravitz told the New York Daily News, "On any other movie, you can shut it off at the end of the day—we didn't have that option." After three months of sand dunes, the girls got a little stir-crazy. Understandably, they needed a break, so the powers that be gave them a week off. But the production company, Warner Bros., may have found that troubling.

A producer gets sent to the desert

By October 2012, Warner Bros. felt production was taking too long and costing too much. It also doesn't help that Miller is known for going over-budget and falling behind-schedule, but hey, that's how masterpieces get made. Stuffy as they are, studio execs don't see it that way, so they sent producer Denise di Novi to the set to keep an eye on things, according to The Hollywood Reporter. (She must've been thrilled with getting sent to the desert.) But worse than dealing with a studio suit, the Namibian government had problems with production too.

Namibian government complains about filming

At first, the Namibian Government was overjoyed with Miller bringing his film to their country. It meant jobs and money. But that joy didn't last too long. According to The Guardian, an environmental report accused the filmmaker and his crew of damaging "sensitive areas meant to be protected," as well as "endangering reptiles and rare cacti." Maybe Tom Hardy does actually eat that lizard at the beginning of the movie. So, the Namibian Film Commission paid a few visits to the set and found the reports were basically the work of people just trying to cause trouble. Though vindicated, that's still gotta be annoying. But not as annoying as what came next.


Filming on Mad Max: Fury Road wrapped in December 2012, but then it didn't. Someone decided reshoots were necessary. The identity of that someone is unknown, but two theories exist. According to /Film, Warner Bros. loved a rough cut of the movie so much they gave Miller more money to extend and action sequence. Meanwhile Screen Rant disagrees, claiming that Miller never finished filming in the first place, so he had to go finish the job. Either way, crew and some cast members reunited almost one year later in November 2013 for three more weeks of work. Let's hope they got overtime. And once reshoots and post-production truly ended, Mad Max: Fury Road hit theaters and took audiences to the "Green Place." Oh, what a lovely day.