According to Charlize Theron, tensions between her and Tom Hardy on the set of Mad Max: Fury Road had become so frought that she found herself “scared s—tless” of her co-star.
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Theron’s accusations were revealed in an excerpt from Blood, Sweat & Chrome: The Wild and True Story of Mad Max: Fury Road, an upcoming oral history of the popular sequel written by New York Times pop culture reporter Kyle Buchanan, shared by Vanity Fair on February 22nd.
In writing the book, Buchanan conducted a series of interviews with members of the film’s production team, including the film’s writer and director, George Miller, and Venom writer and close friend of Tom Hardy, Kelly Marcel, to discuss the on-set feud between Theron and Hardy.
Actor Nicholas Hoult said that the atmosphere was quite tense when he shared scenes with Theron and Hardy, stating, “It was a tense atmosphere at times. It was kind of like you’re on your summer holidays and the adults in the front of the car are arguing.”
“He’s right, it was like two parents in the front of the car,” chimed in Theron. “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.”
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Regarding a particular fight scene between her character, Furiosa, and Hardy’s Max, Theron recalled that she was scared of her co-star because there had already been some friction between the two on the film’s set.
“I don’t want to make excuses for bad behavior, but it was a tough shoot,” said Theron. “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 s—tless.”
Theron also disclosed that tensions between Hardy and her escalated to the point of near violence, adding, “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.”
Mad Max: Fury Road camera operator Mark Goellnicht revealed that on the day the two almost “came to blows”, Hardy, as was apparently typical, was late for a shoot.
“He was notorious for never being on time in the morning,” recalled Goellnicht. “If the call time was in the morning, forget it—he didn’t show up.”
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He continued, “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.”
According to the film’s camera operator, Theron was so upset about Hardy not showing up on time that she demanded that the production “dine the f–king c–t a hundred thousand dollars for every minute that he’s held up this crew” and reprimanded her co-star, “How disrespectful you are!”.
“She was right,” he asserted. “Full rant. She screams it out.”
Goellnicht then detailed how “It’s so loud, it’s so windy—[Hardy] 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,” he claimed. “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.”
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Theron interjected, “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.”
“I kind of put my foot down,” said the actress. “George then said, ‘Okay, well, if [producer Denise Di Novi] 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.”
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“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,” Theron elaborated. ” 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.”
She added, “That’s where we could have done better, if George trusted that nobody was going to come and fuck 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.”
“There are things that I feel disappointment with about the process,” replied Miller. “Looking back, if I had to do it again, I would probably be more mindful.”
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Speaking with Buchannan himself, Hardy would also admit, “In hindsight, I was in over my head in many ways.”
“The pressure on both of us was overwhelming at times,” he concluded. “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.”
Goellnicht then noted that by the time they shot the scene “where you see Tom with Charlize on the bike and all the Vuvalini and the Wives behind, intermingled”, Hardy had begeun to “really soften to Charlize in real life.”
“The day we shot that, I got such goose bumps,” he told Buchannan. “You really felt this change in their mood. Just the way that they were talking to each other when they were off camera, I went, What the f–k? Who gave them molly? They were really civil and nice. He was a different person by the end—a lot easier to deal with, a lot more cooperative, more compassionate. He’s such a Method actor that I think he took the arc in the literal sense.”
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