Remember back in 2002-2003 when word trickled through the Yahoo! Movies chatroom and Geocities film community that Heath Ledger might be joining Mel Gibson in director George Miller’s “Mad Max Fury Road”? I sure do, because it’s a rumour that keep popping up again and again. Even after Ledger dismissed the rumour in an interview I did with him at the time.
In one of a few interviews I did with the late actor, I brought up the rumour of a possible “Patriot” reunion between Gibson and himself on the long-gestating “Mad Max” movie.
Ledger said at the time that he’d do a walk-on role but that was it, he would not be co-starring as such.
“I did say to [Director] George Miller I’d do a walk-on role in it and have Mad Max shoot me in the head. It’ll be cool just to be part of a Mad Max movie, I certainly wasn’t up for the Son role though
Today, in an interview with The Playlist, Miller – who is still trying to get that same “Mad Max” movie off the ground – confirmed Ledger was indeed set to play Max’s son in the movie.
Miller first attempted to resuscitate the franchise in 2003, and he confirmed the longtime rumor that Heath Ledger was set to star alongside Mel Gibson. That version was to begin shooting in Namibia, but in late February 2003 with the prospect of the impending Iraq invasion ahead 20th Century Fox postponed the production, and it lead to its eventual death.
“Fury Road” is on for a Nambia, South Africa shoot next year with Tom Hardy playing the Max character. Miller actually compares Hardy to Ledger.
”We made it very clear from the outset that it would be crazy to try to impersonate what Mel had done, but Tom [like] Mel and Heath Ledger; these guys all have very similar kind of maleness, I find. I don’t know, they somehow remind me of big cats – they’re mesmerizing to look and be with, but you don’t know what they’re going to do at any moment.”
Interestingly enough, Miller says the script for “Fury Road” hasn’t changed that much since the days of the canceled Ledger/Gibson incarnation.
Obviously I’ve worked on [the script] since, and we’ve got the whole movie designed – we’ve got 150 big vehicles built – and the world has evolved. I hope I’ve evolved, and I hope the movie’s evolved. But it’s pretty similar; at its core, it’s not that different.”
I’m surprised how little has changed [in the script] in that time. But these films aren’t really speculating about a future, they’re westerns in the same way that westerns would kind of morality plays, figures in the landscape, and you’re able to somehow reduce this human behavior to its most elemental. So now, it’s very clear to see the story in there where perhaps the modern world is a little bit too cluttered – it’s a bit hard to see the signals amongst the noise.
Charlize Theron and Nicholas Hoult (and I’ve heard Hugh Keays-Byrne and Magda Szubanski) are set to join Hardy in Miller’s “Mad Max Fury Road” when it begins filming – knock on wood – next year.