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The Real Reason Charlize Theron's Furiosa Character Is Being Recast For The Mad Max Prequel

When Mad Max: Fury Road hit theaters, you would have been hard-pressed to find anyone who didn't love it. From its sprawling desert action sequences and Oscar-winning editing to its feminist themes, the film proved that it was possible to resuscitate a franchise decades after its last entry with a chapter that was both timely and true to its predecessors. 

While there was much to praise about the post-apocalyptic action movie, actress Charlize Theron monopolized much of that acclaim for some viewers. Billed as the co-lead to Tom Hardy's Mad Max, Theron's brazen Furiosa was a cunning warrior and savior who once served as Immortan Joe's (Hugh Keays-Byrne) former top imperator and war rig driver. The expert in wasteland survival and protector of the fanatical and vicious leader's Five Wives became a beacon of hope and resistance for a land ravaged by contamination and corrupted men. 

With such an overwhelmingly positive response to the character and a lot of down-time to build Furiosa's backstory during Mad Max production delays, it's not surprising that director George Miller wants to do more with her. But in a recent interview with The New York Times, Miller unexpectedly announced that Theron's grungy and beloved time as Furiosa has come to an end — at least where Furiosa's upcoming prequel movie is concerned. 

The reason, according to the director, is a lack of solid de-aging technology to make Theron a believably younger version of her character. 

"For the longest time, I thought we could just use CG de-aging on Charlize, but I don't think we're nearly there yet," Miller explained. "Despite the valiant attempts on The Irishman, I think there's still an uncanny valley. Everyone is on the verge of solving it, [particularly] Japanese video-game designers, but there's still a pretty wide valley, I believe."

Charlize Theron's Mad Max co-star Zoë Kravitz says she trusts George Miller's vision

It will be hard to imagine Furiosa without Theron, especially after Theron expressed a desire to return to the character. In a 2017 interview with Variety, the Atomic Blonde star said she'd be up for embodying the character again despite the famously difficult filming conditions, but that this ultimately wasn't up to her. 

"I'd love to," Theron told the entertainment trade. "But at the end of the day, this thing lives and breathes with George [Miller]. I think Warner Bros. knows that. We are all waiting for him to show us the way."

It now appears that the way to this story about the origins of Theron's now-iconic character is without her. While Miller seemed disappointed in the reality, Theron's Mad Max co-star Zoë Kravitz (who played Toast the Knowing in the film) took a similar position as the Furiosa actress. In an appearance on the Happy Sad Confused podcast, The Batman star revealed that she had no idea Miller was considering recasting Theron, though she did know about the long-gestating discussions around the Furiosa prequel project (via CinemaBlend). Despite that surprise, Kravitz said the acclaimed director should be trusted to tell his story, however he sees fit. 

"If I learned anything from being in Fury Road, it's shut up and trust George Miller," the actress said. "I'm just gonna shut my mouth and say, 'Go to work, maestro,' because I don't know what else I can say to that man." 

While Theron may not be returning, the Times interview did reveal at least two others who worked on 2015's Mad Max: Fury Road that would be. No cast members have been officially confirmed, but Fury Road's Oscar-winning production designer Colin Gibson and cinematographer John Seale are both signed on for the prequel.

New Mutants actress Anya Taylor-Joy has auditioned for George Miller's Furiosa prequel

John Seale's work on Fury Road was highly praised, but his return is significant beyond that. After wrapping the last Mad Max chapter in 2013, he essentially retired from Hollywood — for everyone that isn't Miller, that is. 

"I've had wonderful opportunities to work after Fury Road, as you can imagine, and I've passed on all of them," Seale said. "But on Fury Road, I told George, 'If anybody else rings, I'm retired. If you ring, we'll have lunch.' And seven years later, he rang."

In addition to confirming his attachment to the Furiosa film, Gibson teased what fans can expect to see in the prequel while talking to The New York Times. The production designer famously made 135 vehicles for Fury Road, only 88 of which appeared on the screen. Speaking to the Furiosa prequel, Gibson said, "The next possible iteration, which is on the table, has even more."

As for who will replace Theron as a young 20-something Furiosa, Miller is already considering a few names. Variety previously reported that the director was talking with potential actors via Skype auditions for the film he hoped to begin filming in 2021. Among the Hollywood talent he's already seen is New Mutants' star Anya Taylor-Joy, whom the outlet reported was being considered for an unspecified role. There were also rumors that Killing Eve and Star Wars actress Jodie Comer was being considered for the title role, with Game of Thrones actor Richard Madden possibly up for another unnamed male part, though none of this was officially confirmed (via Geeks World Wide). 

Regardless of which way Miller goes in his casting, it will be a bittersweet return of Furiosa to the big screen.