Director George Miller has paid tribute to Hugh Keays-Byrne, who played the villains Toecutter in Mad Max and Immortan Joe in Mad Max: Fury Road. Keays-Byrne died on Tuesday at the age of 73.
Speaking to Indie Wire, Miller reflected on Keays-Byrne’s performances, calling him “the glue that held the first Mad Max movie together.”
“At first I found him formidable to the point of being scary because he was so into the role, the filmmaker said. "The truth is he is a warm and sweet person and so embracing of everybody… I learned acting from him, probably more than anybody else that I worked with.”
Touching on the work they did together on Fury Road, Miller commented: “Out there in the desert, during the arduous shooting, there was no better person to be out there with. He’s very collaborative. The relationship he had with all the actors and stunt crew, who were the War Boys, was very strong. On set, he would always tease them up in a very playful way. All those actors responded to him.”
Miller also spoke about why Keays-Byrne was perfectly cast as Immortan Joe: “The eyes! His eyes carry that power. There’s no other way to describe it. The stature, the demeanour, and the voice. Hugh embodied all that. If he was with you right now, you would feel that natural charisma that he had. People tended to come around to him in some way. To think that presence is no longer available to the world is very sad.”
Miller also said he was considering how to include a tribute of some kind to Keays-Byrne in the upcoming prequel, Furiosa, but didn’t give any details.
Charlize Theron, who played Furiosa in Fury Road, posted a tribute for Keays-Byrne to Twitter: “RIP Hugh Keays-Byrne… It’s amazing you were able to play an evil warlord so well cause you were such a kind, beautiful soul. You will be deeply missed my friend.”
RIP Hugh Keays-Byrne 😔 It’s amazing you were able to play an evil warlord so well cause you were such a kind, beautiful soul. You will be deeply missed my friend. pic.twitter.com/kXDhNs5jEUDecember 2, 2020
Furiosa, which will star Anya Taylor-Joy in the lead role, doesn’t currently have a release date.