April 6-7, 2024
Few people involved in the making of seminal 1979 Aussie film Mad Max thought it would become a worldwide hit in the years following its release; least of all Australian star Hugh Keays-Byrne, who returned to the universe in 2015 to portray Immortan Joe in Mad Max: Fury Road after a stint as the initial villain, Toecutter, 40 years ago.
“It was like winning the lottery,” Keays-Byrne told Supanova TV host, Quinny, during his recent appearance at Supanova in Melbourne.
“Just when you think, ‘Ahh, it’s been a good 40 years,’ suddenly, out of the blue, you hear the rumble in the distance of a huge budget.”
It was co-star and fellow April Supa-Star Steve Bisley’s first gig out of film school (he was cast as Max’s right-hand man, Goose, alongside lead Mel Gibson even before graduating), and the Aussie talent admitted he had no idea how important the release would become.
“We knew it was different, we knew it was sort of special, but nobody had any idea about what it would become over the years,” Bisley said
“It was released in Japan and it really resonated with the Japanese. It got a springboard from Japan and then the Americans released it, given the strength it had in Japan, and then it took off.”
Focusing primarily on theatre while studying at NIDA, Bisley said he had to quickly adjust to the ins and outs of major film production.
Keays-Byrne elaborated on the differences between acting for theatre and film.
“There is spontaneity in the theatre, but my god, in the theatre, you get to rehearse,” he said.
“In film, you don’t generally get to rehearse much… in the theatre, you’ll meticulously go through it for weeks and weeks and everybody knows every line there is.”
“[In theatre], you don’t have that extraordinary interdisciplinary thing happening where you’ve got somebody who’s a sculptor, a welder, a shotgun expert, a horse riding expert all there with you doing the business, so you’re juggling so many different skills. All those skills have to come together for that one very brief moment – most days you’ll be lucky if you get a couple of minutes.”
After sequels in ‘81 and ‘85, filmmaking legend George Miller was finally able to reboot the franchise with the aforementioned Fury Road.
“By the time I got to Fury Road, George Miller was an incredibly accomplished and successful filmmaker,” Keays-Byrne said.
“The first time I met him he was a doctor and he was learning the ropes, but now he’s in full flight. I don’t know how the man has the energy, it’s beyond me. His attention to detail – remarkable, ridiculous.”
And as for a follow-up to Fury Road?
“I’m looking forward to it, but I haven’t heard anything definite,” Keays-Byrne said.
“It’s been on the cards since we finished [Fury Road]. There’s supposed to be a prequel and then another prequel, so I’ve got my fingers crossed and my bankers are anxious.”
Keep an eye out for the full Hugh Keays-Byrne and Steve Bisley Supanova TV episodes.
Lead image: Hugh Keays-Byrne and Steve Bisley at Supanova Gold Coast. Pic by Steven Yee