It’s tough to imagine any other actor than Tom Hardy in the title role of “Mad Max: Fury Road”, but there was some tough competition for the role.
In an oral history about the making of the film published in Vulture, casting director Ronna Kress revealed that other actors up for the part included Michael Fassbender, Jeremy Renner, and Armie Hammer. As the casting process neared its end, Hardy emerged as the frontrunner alongside Renner and Hammer.
As Kress recalled, Hardy and Hammer read together as part of the audition process, but when Hardy gnashed his teeth and spat at Hammer, it was all over; Hammer told director George Miller that Hardy clearly needed to be Max more than he did.
“Jeremy and Armie were equally wonderful, but there was something about Tom in the room where it felt like that was Max, without a doubt. He had that kind of suppressed emotional dryness that you’d find in a post-apocalypse and, buried underneath it, disdain for the world. There was this intensity that burned through the lens,” said camera operator Todd Matthew Grossman, who filmed the auditions.
“After Tom auditioned, George and I went into another room, and we had a long moment of quiet with each other. Then I said to George, ‘Is this the person that you can spend nine months in the desert with, telling this story? Is this the person that’s right for you?’” said Kress.
“I knew he checked my background with other directors to see what it was like to work with me,” added Hardy.
“I had the same feeling about Tom that I had when Mel Gibson first walked into the room: There was a kind of edgy charm, the charisma of animals. You don’t know what’s going on in their inner depths, and yet they’re enormously attractive,” said Miller.
While Hardy was “excited to get the job,” he also admitted he was concerned about “the see-saw effect,” which was that “everybody loves Mel [Gibson] as Max and nobody’s gonna want me. So it’s like being the new boy at school and set up in some way for failure immediately.”