The Real Reason Charlize Theron Isn’t in Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga

Charlize Theron made Furiosa a great character. So why is she missing from Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga? Director George Miller explains the reason.

Anya Taylor-Joy in Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga
Photo: Jasin Boland/Warner Bros. Pictures

Even after almost a decade, critics and audiences continue to heap praise on Mad Max: Fury Road. The 2015 sci-fi classic earns every accolade, from its subtle character work to its jaw-dropping visuals. But there’s one thing that cannot be said about Fury Road: that it has no CG.

True, director George Miller and his stunt team did many of the most impressive action sequences in-camera. But he did so with the assistance of computer graphics to erase the safety wires and other rigging. In other words, Miller has no problem using computer effects, provided that they don’t get in the way of the story he’s telling.

For the same reason, Miller chose to recast one of the people most responsible for the brilliance of Fury Road. In the upcoming prequel Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga, Anya-Taylor Joy smears on the black grease paint of Imperator Furiosa, taking the place of original performer Charlize Theron.

On one hand, the switch makes sense, as Furiosa takes place about two decades before the events of Fury Road, a movie which came out nine years ago. Theron is an outstanding actor, but it’s a tough ask for her to pull off a teen/20-something at this point. Of course, there’s always digital de-aging technology, but not for Miller.

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Miller reveals in a new interview that he intended to make Furiosa with Theron back in the lead, but other examples of de-aging gave him pause. “I saw these other movies like The Irishman, where they made people younger and particularly I saw Gemini Man,” he told “I was looking at was the technology; I wasn’t looking at performance. I thought, ‘We can’t do it.'”

That’s particularly disappointing given Theron’s key role in making Furiosa happen. “[E]veryone read a [Furiosa] script a few years ago, the concept art and everything, and everyone read the screenplay in order to do Fury Road,” explained Miller. “[Theron] read it about six months before, and she said ‘We’ve got to do this first.’ I said, ‘Charlize, we’ve been trying to do this movie for almost a decade and we’re all prepared to do this one. We have to do it.’ But she was very excited about it.”

For Miller, the real culprit in Theron’s absence from Furiosa is not the limitations of computer technology, but rather the studio producing the film. Miller intended to make Furiosa right after Fury Road released in 2015. “But then we’ve now gone through the third parent company of Warner Bros.—there’s about four different regimes,” he pointed out. “That settled down by the time we got to actually do Furiosa, but the best part of a decade had gone by.”

As upsetting and unfair as the loss of Theron certainly is, there is a precedent for recasting in this franchise. Of course, Tom Hardy took over the part of Max Rockatansky from Mel Gibson, who played Max in the first three films of the franchise. Likewise, Australian actor Lacey Hulme plays the younger Immortan Joe in Furiosa, a role originated by the late Hugh Keays-Byrne. Likewise, Keays-Byrne played two different characters within the franchise, both the 1979 Mad Max big bad Toecutter and Immortan Joe.

Will Theron be missed from Furiosa? To be sure. But great actors like Taylor-Joy and Chris Hemsworth will hopefully help make up for her absence, as will Miller’s amazing direction.

Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga roars into theaters on May 24.

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