Tom Hardy, Mel Gibson, Heath Ledger Were Perfect for ‘Mad Max’ Because of Their ‘Animal Magnetism,’ George Miller Says (Video)

Hardy and Gibson both played Max Rockatansky, whereas Ledger was always on Miller’s mind for the role before he died

What do Mel Gibson, Tom Hardy and the late Heath Ledger have in common, according to filmmaker George Miller? They all possess “animal magnetism,” which made them perfect for the lead role in “Mad Max: Fury Road.”

For the five-year anniversary of the film, Josh Horowitz’s “Happy Sad Confused” podcast and virtual New York Comic Con event Metaverse teamed up to celebrate Miller’s iconic film that starred Hardy and Charlize Theron. Gibson starred in the first three “Mad Max” installations as the title character before Hardy took over in the 2015 film — but Miller has said that Ledger was always on his mind for the role before his death in 2008.

“Every time [Ledger would] come to Australia, he’d call in and we’d talk and I always had him in mind,” Miller said. “Mel, when I first met him, Heath, when I got to know him, and Tom all have in common the quality of kind of animal magnetism. When I worked on the ‘Babe’ movies with the animals and I got to work with the animals… there is this wonderful thing that happens when you want to pet them and roll around with them but on the other hand, you are very aware of some inner mystery that goes on. They are highly accessible as people — I’m talking about the three guys — and on the other hand, they are a mystery, you’ll never get to know them. That’s one of the essences of charisma and the paradox of that. They all have it.”

Miller also told Horowitz that although Theron played Furiosa in “Fury Road,” she had initially passed on the role. He explained that the first time he had reached out to her agents, he was told that she’s not interested. Years later, she read it again. When Miller asked her if she’d read it previously, Theron told him that she’d never heard of the film. A spokesperson for Theron has not yet responded to TheWrap’s request for comment. “Who knows what happened there. But she certainly was the first character that came to mind. Mel was cast, then things happened with his public persona; the film kept falling apart and then rose, and then it was made.”

Recently, Theron said she’s disappointed that she likely won’t get the chance to reprise the role of her “Mad Max: Fury Road” character Imperator Furiosa when Miller recasts the role for a Furiosa prequel film. Miller revealed in May that he plans to make a prequel movie based on Theron’s character. However, Miller also revealed he will recast the character with an actress in her 20s to focus on the character’s younger years. That’s all he’ll say about the film for now.

“It’s too early to talk about it,” Miller said. “I’ve always had this slight superstition — you don’t want to give hostage to fortune by, basically, talking about a film. I remember talking about ‘Mad Max 1’ just before 9/11 as if it was supposed to happen in a few weeks’ time. It took close to a decade to get made.”

Watch the full interview above, especially if you want to learn more about which scenes were cut from the final film.