The title of the movie may be Mad Max: Fury Road, but it's Charlize Theron's aptly-named character Imperator Furiosa who steals the show.
Some might argue she is the show.
In George Miller's new reboot of his own Mad Max post-apocalyptic action franchise from the 80s starring Mel Gibson, Tom Hardy plays the title role of the iconic character who is wandering aimlessly before becoming swept up in the chaos of a group fleeing across a totalitarian desert kingdom known as the Wasteland, in a War Rig driven by Furiosa.
We see the Oscar winner as a one-armed, shaven-head warrior, who could possibly be the most badass female character in movie history.
But what makes Furiosa so compelling is that she isn't just another strong woman, but one with conviction, passion and truth - important attributes for Theron.
"She felt really truthful to me, and I think always for an actor, there's something that resonates on a human level...because at the end of the day, we're all playing people," the 39-year-old South African actress told M at Siren Studios in Hollywood.
"She's a warrior, but she's strong because of her circumstances. That's that truth I'm talking about and what I really loved about playing her. It's really nice to play a female character in such a world, who is authentically influenced by her circumstances."
Fury Road, which opens in Singapore tomorrow, revolves around Furiosa, who has been plotting her revenge against the evil warlord Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne) for years.
She rescues his Five Wives (Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Zoe Kravitz, Riley Keough, Abbey Lee and Courtney Eaton), who were kidnapped to breed future fighters, and the women go on the run from the baddies.
Theron and the rest of the cast were in Namibia to shoot the movie, and had to endure six months in a remote southern African desert.
They had long days of filming and it was physically demanding, as the actors often did their own stunts.
Despite the gruelling production, Theron delivers a fearless performance that totally eclipses Max's storyline, making audiences wonder why the movie wasn't named after Furiosa.
"I never thought of anyone else for the role," said Australian film-maker Miller, 70, who directed, wrote and produced Fury Road.
"This was a very clear character in my mind, as was Max of course, and from the work I'd seen and knowing and getting to know her, I realised it couldn't have been anyone else."
On her part, Theron had always been enamoured with Miller and heard a lot of wonderful things about the man who also gave us family-friendly flicks like Babe and Happy Feet.
"So when I heard that this little side project was happening, I was really excited," she said. "When George told me he wanted to create a female Road Warrior who can stand next to his very iconic character as his equal, I believed him and he didn't let me down."
Fury Road has little dialogue and nothing but action, but Theron was still able to make Furiosa's struggle real, not only physically but also in spirit. Playing in the dirt and getting filthy was nothing for one of Hollywood's leading ladies, who brilliantly transforms into any character she undertakes, the best example being her Oscar-winning turn in Monster in 2003.
Throughout the production, she readily took on her 4.5kg mechanical arm with no complaints, to make filming more authentic. But it was the movie's emotional drive that really resonated with her.
"I guess I'm a lover of the human condition when it's brutally honest and loved that there was nothing heroic about this movie and that none of the characters was trying to be a hero," she said.
"They weren't trying to save the world and were (instead) driven by things that were so personal. I love that you can watch the movie and really read into all the different things."
This article was first published on May 13, 2015.
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