There have been so many stories and rumors about the filming of 2015’s Mad Max: Fury Road, and many of them are about how Charlize Theron and Tom Hardy hated each other so much, Ryan Murphy should be buying the rights to their story for the next season of FX’s Feud. Their Mad Max co-star Zoë Kravitz has previously suggested that their feud could have been due to being out in the desert for so long and everyone getting on each other’s nerves a little too much. And Charlize herself has simply stated that they just “struggled” with each other.
A new book by Kyle Buchanan called Mad Max: Fury Road, titled Blood, Sweat & Chrome: The Wild and True Story of Mad Max: Fury Road gets into the feud. This is the book where we learned about Tom Hardy going a little too hard during his audition and spitting in Armie Hammer’s face. But it’s where we also learn why Charlize and Tom were at each other’s throats.
Vanity Fair has published a few excerpts from the book, and the vibe you get from Charlize on the set of Mad Max: Fury Road is that the woman lives and dies by the 4 Ps of acting: Punctuality, Professionalism, Perfect performance, and refusal to accept when someone is acting like a Piece of shit. According to the book, if a call time said 8:00 am, Charlize was there on set, in full makeup and wardrobe, on her mark and ready to shoot at exactly 8:00:01 am. And Tom was not. Tom reportedly rolled onto set whenever he felt like it, which was sometimes three hours after Charlize had been sitting there waiting for director George Miller to yell “Action!“. via IndieWire:
Open Road Entertainment editor J. Houston Yang noted, “It was clear that those two people hated each other. They didn’t want to touch each other, they didn’t want to look at each other, they wouldn’t face each other if the camera wasn’t actively rolling.”
“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.”
Hardy arrived three hours later, which first assistant camera person Ricky Schamburg speculated could have been “some kind of power play” but felt “deliberately provocative” regardless. Theron, meanwhile, waited in the War Rig in full costume and makeup. “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,” Schamburg said.
When Tom eventually did show up three hours later, Charlize dropped the professionalism, jumped out of the War Rig, and screamed at Tom about how “disrespectful” he was to everyone on set and said that someone should, “fine the fucking cunt a hundred thousand dollars for every minute that he’s held up this crew.” Tom fought back, and that’s when it allegedly got “aggressive” and Charlize felt threatened. Charlize spoke about working with Tom for the book, and she acknowledges that the situation between the two of them was extremely toxic, but that she might have handled it just a bit differently if she could go back in time.
“I don’t want to make excuses for bad behavior, but it was a tough shoot. Now, I have a very clear perspective on what went down. I don’t think I had that clarity when we were making the movie. I was in survival mode; I was really scared shitless.” The Oscar winner added, “Because of my own fear, we were putting up walls to protect ourselves instead of saying to each other, ‘Fuck, this is scary for you and it’s scary for me, too. Let’s be nice to each other.’ We were functioning, in a weird way, like our characters: Everything was about survival.”
Theron revealed about Hardy, “I don’t want to rehash things, but it came out of a really bad moment where things kind of came to blows between me and Tom…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.”
Tom commented too and admitted that maybe he had his own 3-P system of Posturing, Pretending, and Passing himself off as someone who was confident enough to be starring opposite of Charlize Theron in a massive film.
“In hindsight, I was in over my head in many ways,” Hardy said. “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.”
And it wasn’t just Charlize who had an issue with Tom. The First Assistant Director claims that the five women who played The Wives (Zoë, Riley Keough, Abbey Lee, Courtney Eaton, and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley) all had their moments where they were yelling at Tom.
Screenwriter Kelly Marcel suggests that Tom and Charlize had very different ways of working, with Tom being more method and experimental, and Charlize being consistent and methodical. But many people stress in the book that regardless of how much Tom and Charlize hated each other, they delivered great performances with an insane amount of chemistry. Still, this moment stuck out to me:
Gets to nine o’clock, still no Tom. “Charlize, do you want to get out of the War Rig and walk around, or do you want to . . .” “No, I’m going to stay here.” She was really going to make a point. She didn’t go to the bathroom, didn’t do anything. She just sat in the War Rig.
No wonder Charlize Theron lost it on Tom Hardy when he finally showed up three hours later. Sitting in a jacked-up Jeep in the hot desert sun, legs cramping, bladder just bursting with piss. Mostly the pee. I’d flip my shit too if some selfish person was putting me at risk for an out-of-town UTI.