When Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron first met on the set of Mad Max: Fury Road, they disliked each other on sight. When they began working together, Tom’s “hyper-Method” acting style, habitual disrespect and chronic lateness grated on Charlize’s last nerve. Charlize is the perfectionist and professional who shows up to set early, who treats everyone professionally and respects people’s time. Charlize and Tom were at each other’s throats throughout, basically. It wasn’t even a secret as they were filming in Namibia – people were gossiping about how bad the set felt because of Charlize and Tom’s beef even then.
In the years since Fury Road was released, the film has been recognized as a brilliant modern classic and a feat of filmmaking. Over the years, Charlize and Tom have both addressed their difficult working relationship in interviews and oral histories too. Tom kind of shrugs it off, but Charlize has always been more of a “what did I learn from that horrible experience” kind of person. Well, now there’s a book devoted to the making of Fury Road, called Blood, Sweat & Chrome: The Wild and True Story of Mad Max: Fury Road by Kyle Buchanan. Vanity Fair excerpted some stuff about Charlize and Tom’s relationship, and the massive falling out they had during a night shoot, when Tom came out three hours late.
Mark Goellnicht: Eleven o’clock. She’s now in the War Rig, sitting there with her makeup on and a full costume for three hours. Tom turns up, and he walks casually across the desert. She jumps out of the War Rig, and she starts swearing her head off at him, saying, “Fine the f–king c-nt a hundred thousand dollars for every minute that he’s held up this crew,” and “How disrespectful you are!” 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 up and went, “What did you say to me?” He was quite aggressive. She really felt threatened, and that was the turning point, because then she said, “I want someone as protection.” She then had a producer that was assigned to be with her all the time.
Charlize Theron: 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, because I didn’t feel safe.
Charlize Theron: I kind of put my foot down. George then said, “Okay, well, if Denise comes . . .” He was open to it and that kind of made me breathe a little bit, because it felt like I would have another woman understanding what I was up against…. She was parked in the production office, and she was checking in with me and we would talk. But when I was on set, I still felt pretty naked and alone.
Charlize Theron: Looking back on where we are in the world now, given what happened between me and Tom, it would have been smart for us to bring a female producer in. You understand the needs of a director who wants to protect his set, but when push comes to shove and things get out of hand, you have to be able to think about that in a bigger sense. That’s where we could have done better, if George trusted that nobody was going to come and f–k with his vision but was just going to come and help mediate situations. I think he didn’t want any interference, and there were several weeks on that movie where I wouldn’t know what was going to come my way, and that’s not necessarily a nice thing to feel when you’re on your job. It was a little bit like walking on thin ice.
Tom Hardy (“Max”): In hindsight, I was in over my head in many ways. The pressure on both of us was overwhelming at times. What she needed was a better, perhaps more experienced partner in me. That’s something that can’t be faked. I’d like to think that now that I’m older and uglier, I could rise to that occasion.
In the excerpts, Charlize was open about how scared she was working on this intense production with so many demands. But it’s clear that Tom was the one who was really scared, and I’m sorry, Charlize had every f–king right to be pissed off at him. She had every right to tell him off for being three hours late to set when everyone else was ready to go. The larger problem wasn’t the toxic Charlize-Tom dynamic, it was “why didn’t George Miller or one of the more senior producers check Hardy’s behavior?” It shouldn’t be Charlize’s responsibility to tell Tom that his behavior is toxic and unacceptable. It also shouldn’t be Charlize’s responsibility to request a female producer to be with her because Charlize’s male costar is a hyper-aggressive, unprofessional jackass.
PS… this book also details how all of the “Wives” f–king despised Hardy too. HE was the problem, the problem wasn’t “Charlize and Tom don’t get along,” it was “Hardy doesn’t play well with others, especially women.”
Photos courtesy of Avalon Red, promotional image from ‘Fury Road’.