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Charlize Theron’s Imperator Furiosa, a hardened war captain who rebels against the tyrannical Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne) to free his women captives alongside Max Rockatansky (Tom Hardy), is a large part of what made 2015’s “Mad Max: Fury Road” a blockbuster juggernaut — now considered among viewers and critics alike to be one of the best action films of all time. She made her debut in the fourth installment of George Miller’s widely celebrated franchise, which began in 1979 with Mel Gibson starring in the title role.
While the Oscar-winning movie offered some insight into Furiosa’s backstory, including her remembrances of the “Green Place” — an idyllic location from her childhood that predates the current post-apocalyptic wasteland — her self-titled film will uncover her origin story in depth. “Furiosa” will follow the badass heroine prior to her captaining days, serving as a prequel to “Fury Road,” with Anya Taylor-Joy taking over the lead role.
Longtime fans will also be happy to learn that “Furiosa” is reuniting many of the creative brains behind “Fury Road,” including cinematographer John Seale, editor Margaret Sixel (who is married to Miller) and production designer Colin Gibson, as well as a majority of the Academy Award-winning crafts team.
Below, TheWrap breaks down everything we know about the film, including cast details, release date and the struggle to get the film made in the first place.
Who else is in the “Furiosa” cast?
Aside from star Taylor-Joy, the cast includes Chris Hemsworth and Tom Burke (“Mank”), who replaced Yahya Abdul-Mateen II after he dropped out due to scheduling conflicts. Additionally, Nathan Jones, who portrayed Immortan Joe’s youngest son Rictus Erectus in “Fury Road,” will be reprising his role. At one point, Jodie Comer and Richard Madden were being considered for lead roles. Reportedly, the film will also feature a younger Immortan Joe, who has yet to be announced.
Fun fact: Miller originally thought to use CG de-aging tech so that Theron could reprise her role in “Furiosa” in a way that made sense. However, he eventually decided against it, saying that the VFX technology has yet to be perfected.
“For the longest time, I thought we could just use CG de-aging on Charlize, but I don’t think we’re nearly there yet,” Miller told the New York Times. “Despite the valiant attempts on ‘The Irishman,’ I think there’s still an uncanny valley. Everyone is on the verge of solving it — particular Japanese video-game designers — but there’s still a pretty wide valley, I believe.”
When is the release date?
In September, it was announced that “Furiosa” would be pushed back nearly a year, with a release date of May 24, 2024. Delays are likely due to the pandemic, with Hemsworth’s Netflix film “Extraction 2” being pulled out of Australia — which had been on lockdown due to rising cases — to remain on schedule.
Filming on “Furiosa” was set to begin in early 2022, though further updates have not been given. Miller also wanted to begin production on the film after completing his upcoming epic romance film “Three Thousand Years of Longing,” starring Tilda Swinton and Idris Elba, which is slated for release Aug. 31.
It’s also likely that the immense scope of the film — which will follow several years of Furiosa’s life — impacted its timeline. According to former New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian, “Furiosa” would be Australia’s biggest film ever, generating 350 million Australian dollars for the local economy.
How long has the film been in the works?
A long time — essentially as long as it took to get “Fury Road” made. While the oral history book “Blood, Sweat & Chrome: The Wild and True Story of Mad Max: Fury Road” chronicles the painstaking entirety of what it took to get Miller’s 2015 film to the silver screen, the short of it is that the project remained in development hell for years, taking more than a decade and a half to be completed due to various delays that resulted from issues like Gibson’s controversies (when he was still playing the lead role) and the Iraq War.
During this time, Miller and co-writer Nick Lathouris devised complex backstories for all of the characters in “Fury Road,” spending a bulk of their attention on Furiosa’s history — her journey to leadership and the time she spent with the female warrior group known as the Vuvalini. While they crafted Furiosa’s backstory solely for Theron’s sake, they found her tale rich enough to transform into a secondary screenplay that was written even before “Fury Road” went into production. For years, though, it seemed that “Furiosa” would never be made, due to Miller’s legal battle with Warner Bros. over unpaid “Fury Road” earnings, a case which was eventually settled.
Do I need to watch all the “Mad Max” films to understand “Furiosa”?
Yes and no. “Mad Max: Fury Road” is more of a reboot of the franchise (which up to that point comprised 1979’s “Mad Max,” 1981’s “Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior” and 1985’s “Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, all starring Gibson) than a direct sequel. Technically, Miller designates “Fury Road” as a “revisiting,” neither characterizing it as a revival nor a sequel. And given that “Furiosa” is definitively a prequel to “Fury Road,” you should at least view that film to get an understanding of what makes Furiosa the formidable warrior she is.
With that said, I’m sure Miller wouldn’t mind if you hosted a viewing party for his previous three films as well, and it’s probably a good idea if you’d like to familiarize (or re-familiarize) yourself with “Mad Max” lore.
What can I expect from the movie?
If you’re looking for another adrenaline-pulsing, high-stakes chase drama like “Fury Road,” we’re sorry to disappoint. Since “Furiosa” is moreso a character study rather than an epic battle across a burnt amber-colored wasteland, expect more of a traditional drama featuring three acts. Though, rest assured, the film will still be set in the barren, dystopian landscape fans have grown accustomed to in the “Mad Max” franchise.
Will Taylor-Joy sport a shaved head for “Furiosa” like Theron did?
Unclear. Apparently, she wants to, but Miller isn’t down, according to costume designer Jenny Beavan. For her part, the actress has declined to comment on the matter. Guess we’ll just have to wait for first look images to see if Taylor-Joy goes full Eleven!
What about “Mad Max: The Wasteland”?
Yes, there is a “Mad Max 5” in the works! Billed as a direct “Fury Road” spin-off, the film — which Hardy signed on to prior to its prequel’s release — will not be expected for some time. It has yet to enter production, with an as-yet-unknown development status. Since “Furiosa” won’t be hitting screens until 2024, it’s safe to assume that this one is sure to be a few years out. But, if all goes well, fans will not have to wait several decades for it.