Charlize Theron on Clashing With 'Mad Max' Co-Star Tom Hardy: 'We Drove Each Other Crazy'

Charlize Theron tells all in Esquire (Esquire)
Charlize Theron tells all in Esquire (Esquire)

It's always refreshing when actors get candid about what really goes down on a movie set and Charlize Theron is the latest star to tell it like it is.

When speaking with Esquire, the 39-year-old Oscar winner opened up about tensions she had with Tom Hardy while shooting Mad Max: Fury Road. It turns out rumors that the two stars were clashing on set weren't entirely false.

“We f--kin’ went at it, yeah. And on other days, he and George [Miller, the director] went at it," she reveals. "It was the isolation, and the fact that we were stuck in a rig for the entire shoot. We shot a war movie on a moving truck — there’s very little green screen. It was like a family road trip that just never went anywhere. We never got anywhere. We just drove. We drove into nothingness, and that was maddening sometimes."

Theron and Hardy filmed on location in Swakopmund in Namibia, on the edge of the Namib Desert, for six-and-a-half months. But it wasn't just the environment that was driving them mad.

Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron in 'Mad Max' (Warner Bros.)
Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron in 'Mad Max' (Warner Bros.)

"It’s material that’s really frightening — we didn’t have a script. Tom and I are actors who take our jobs seriously. Both of us want to please the directors we work with, and when you don’t know if you can deliver on that, it’s a frightening place to be — and for Tom more than me, because he was stepping into big shoes," Theron explains.

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Despite going at it a few times, Charlize went on to say that she ultimately appreciated Tom's approach more than some of her peers.

"I'd rather have that honesty working with someone than someone who fake-smiles through something — especially for actors, when your job is to go for the emotional truth. When you're with somebody and you don't feel like you’re in their emotional truth, then you don't trust them," she says. "I think good actors go all the way. If you want to be a safe actor, and you emotionally protect yourself from things getting out of hand, the performance will show all of that. Anyone who really, really, really goes into the deep dark corners of what emotional truth is, as somebody who works opposite of that, you have to be grateful for that. I beg for that. I beg for that on a job, that potency to the stew that makes it that magic that it is."

Charlize covers Esquire's May issue (Esquire)
Charlize covers Esquire's May issue (Esquire)

Despite their rocky relationship, Charlize showed the interviewer a gift that Tom left for her in her trailer. It was a self-portrait Hardy painted with a red handprint on the back and an inscription: You are an absolute nightmare, BUT you are also f--king awesome. I'll kind of miss you. Love, Tommy.

"We drove each other crazy, but I think we have respect for each other, and that’s the difference," Charlize concludes. "This is the kind of stuff that nobody wants to understand — there’s a real beauty to that kind of relationship."

Hardy, who got in a brawl with Shia LaBeouf on the set of Lawless (although each star had slightly different accounts as to what went down), is the first to admit he can be challenging on set.

"I have a reputation for being difficult. And I am. I am actually," he told Esquire in the May issue. "But I'm not unreasonable. It used to be that if somebody hurt me I'd lash out a bit, in order to get them to stop. It ultimately comes from fear. If I cause enough of a mess, then people will never ask me again to do something I don't want to do. But that sort of backfires after a while so you don’t want to do that. You grow up."

Read Theron's full interview when the May issue of Esquire hits newsstands on April 21.