It’s the moment that ties the movie together. The moment in Mad Max: Fury Road when Furiosa (Charlize Theron) realizes that the home she was taken from, the home she’s been racing toward, is gone. Upon learning this information, she stumbles across the desert and screams. Captured beautifully by director George Miller, it’s a major turning point for the character and the story of how it happened is as powerful as the moment itself.
Miller told the tale to Entertainment Weekly, explaining that he wasn’t initially sure how he wanted the scene to go down. He wanted her to be angry, confused, and sad, and he wanted to capture it from a distance, but nothing specific was scripted. Then, he saw the winds picking up in the African location and thought if they shot the scene from a specific angle, it would look incredibly beautiful and dynamic. But, there wasn’t a lot of time.
To get the shot he wanted, with the wind blowing sand across the dunes and sun creating just the right light, the crew wouldn’t have a lot of takes. So Miller suggested to Theron that she remove her character’s artificial arm, to make her more vulnerable, and just do what came naturally. What came naturally is the exact moment we see in the movie.
“I’m pretty sure it was one take,” Miller told EW. “I learned this with Jack Nicholson, a very wise man, that actors are like elite athletes—they have to nail the performance right there in the moment regardless of what’s happening. Great performance artists have all the skills of an athlete but also need those emotional human skills they have to convey. I knew in an action film like this Charlize had all those attributes… Charlize is very precise; having been a very fine ballet dancer she understands space and how to move in space, and it was basically us watching her do it. I thank the movie gods all the elements were in place. We were lucky to get the wind, but there wasn’t any luck in getting the performance.”
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