Hollywood is replete with stories of “what might have been.” Whether it’s the unrealized INDIANA JONES AND THE MONKEY KING movie or casting Tom Cruise as Iron Man, these “what if” tales make for interesting discussions. Often times the reason actors aren’t cast in specific roles or potential movies never materialize is due to the film languishing in development Hell. Such was the case with George MIller’s fourth Mad Max film.
Although director George Miller began developing the script for FURY ROAD in 1998, he didn’t even reacquire the rights to the franchise until a few years later. Multiple location issues, inclement weather, and a myriad of other problems ultimately torpedoed the film until half way through the second decade of the 21st century. Miller knew early on that Mel Gibson wasn’t going to return as Mad Max as he wanted to keep the character younger. The part eventually went to Tom Hardy, however the role almost went to another actor known for playing an iconic character – Heath Ledger.
That’s right. Miller’s choice to replace Gibson as Mad Max was originally the Australian Oscar winner. The casting was a lot closer to fruition than you might expect. Both Miller and Ledger had multiple conversations regarding the movie and were veering closer to a finalized deal when Heath Ledger tragically died in 2008. The road (pun intended) to a fourth Mad Max film would labor on another seven years until MAD MAX: FURY ROAD was finally released in 2015, covering audiences in Warboys and guzoleen.
I’m of the mind that sometimes certain things are meant to be. Robert Downey Jr. was meant to play Iron Man and I believe Tom Hardy was meant to play Mad Max. I never thought anyone could replace Mel Gibson but damn if Hardy didn’t do just that. It’s a shame that four years have passed and there’s been little to no word on a sequel. George Miller isn’t getting any younger and Tom Hardy is in heavy demand these days. Hopefully we won’t have to wait another twenty-five years for the next film.