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SYFY WIRE Mad Max: Furiosa

Charlize Theron won’t play Furiosa in Mad Max: Fury Road prequel... but the car fights will be bigger

By Benjamin Bullard
Charlize Theron as Furiosa in Mad Max Fury Road

Technology giveth, and technology taketh away. Even as the team behind the upcoming prequel to Mad Max: Fury Road teases epic car battles on a scale we’ve not yet seen, they’re also deflating fans’ hopes for seeing Charlize Theron reprise her role as Furiosa — because apparently the de-aging tech to put the seasoned warrior back in her early 20s just isn’t there yet.

The New York Times is reporting that Theron, long believed to be returning for director George Miller’s planned prequel to his six-time Oscar-winning Fury Road, won’t be stepping back into the shoes of her tough-as-nails character after all. Speaking with the Times as part of its amazing oral history peek into the background of the Mad Max franchise, Miller confessed that he wishes casting Theron to play the part of Furiosa’s younger self were an option, but he’s just not convinced by the CGI efforts he’s seen in other films.

“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,” he said. “Despite the valiant attempts [with Robert De Niro and Al Pacino] 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.”

Instead, Miller said he’ll be on the casting lookout for a 20-something actor to take over the part, adding that early work on the movie remains in a holding pattern until “everything settles down with the pandemic.”

If losing Theron — who helped shape Furiosa from her original character conception as a more feminine fighter into an androgynous badass — is a letdown for fans, then at least the creative team’s ambitions for the new movie sound more promising.

Fury Road filled the screen with some epic battle set pieces that assembled what felt like a fleet of apocalypse-mobiles. According to the Times, the production team built 135 vehicles for all those high-octane car fights, and only ended up showing 88 of those on-screen. But Oscar-winning production designer Colin Gibson said that even bigger plans are afoot for the prequel: “The next possible iteration, which is on the table, has even more,” he teased.

We just hope fuel is plentiful and cheap by the time work finally does get underway for all that four (or more)-wheeled action. The new movie doesn’t yet have a title, a cast, or a release date, so batten down the hatches while we wait for the return of Mad Max’s next big-screen apocalypse.