Chris Hemsworth in 'Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga' Image Credit: IMDB/Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc

Hollywood actor Chris Hemsworth, who plays a crucial role in George Miller's upcoming dystopian action film ‘Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga’, recalls how the iconic director shaped his imagination and triggered his passion to becoming an actor.

"It was Crocodile Dundee and Mad Max growing up," said Hemsworth of ‘Thor’ fame in a supplied interview.

"It had a huge impact on my childhood, my cinematic experience as a kid and even influenced wanting to be an actor and be in this space,” he added.

Furiosa, out in the UAE cinemas on May 24, is the hotly anticipated fifth film in the Mad Max franchise, also starring Anya Taylor-Joy, and is the origin story of Imperator Furiosa, played by Charlize Theron in 2015’s Mad Max: Fury Road.

Set against the barren Australian outback, the movie explores the breakdown of society after an apocalypse. This star-studded spectacle, which premiered at the on-going Cannes Film Festival, received a six-minute standing ovation and was even described as a compelling and an almost accidental “feminist piece”. Several reviews also praised Hemsworth’s compelling performance as the charismatic despot of a biker horde, Dementus. To play this role effectively, the Australian actor claims he had extensive discussions with Miller, exploring themes of manipulation and dominance within the wasteland's anarchic landscape.

Furiosa Chris Hemsworth
Cast member Chris Hemsworth poses during a photocall for the film "Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga" Out of competition at the 77th Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, France Image Credit: Reuters

"There were a lot of discussions in our very first meeting …About psychology and philosophy, about dictators and large dominant figures through history... the common trait of manipulation as we see in dictators was something we wanted to ingrain within the character,” said Hemsworth.

Excerpts from the supplied interview with the lead actor who hopes that Furiosa will resonate with audiences in profound and personal ways and underline the enduring power of cinema to inspire, provoke, and transform lives …

As an Australian, can you describe the impact that George’s films have had on you culturally and as a performer?

It was Crocodile Dundee and Mad Max growing up, and it had a huge impact on my childhood, my cinematic experience as a kid and even influenced wanting to be an actor and be in this space. I have very vivid, nostalgic memories from watching Mad Max as a kid, and then talking about the motorbikes, the cars and the world that George created with my dad.

My dad raced motorbikes back then, and knew a lot of the stunt riders and so on. And so, to be a part of the world, years down the track, I still feel like that young kid watching the film for the first time. I feel the same amount of excitement and enthusiasm, and it is a dream come true.

Thinking back, can you remember what filled your mind when you read the script for Furiosa?

I remember being so impressed by this document that I had been given. It was not a traditional script. It had storyboards, it had imagery, it had passages of information like you’d see in a novel, and then dialogue and scenes. And it was the most immersive way to read a script. I don’t know why people don’t do it more often like that. It immediately informed the world and gave such a deeper understanding of what this film was going to be about.

A still from ' 'Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga'

But even with all of the detail in the script, there’s an alchemy that comes with taking words from a page and turning them into a living, breathing human being. What were some of the keys for you for finding Dementus?

There were a lot of discussions in our very first meeting—a number of years before we started shooting—about psychology and philosophy, about dictators and large dominant figures through history with the common trait of presenting themselves as omnipresent, ethereal and godlike, with the ability to manipulate a vulnerable group of people by saying, “I know your problems and I know who caused them. I know what your fears are and I know how to solve them.” The common trait of manipulation as we see in dictators was something we wanted to ingrain within the character… From the way he spoke, to the ideas and specifics on what he talked about, and even the physical presentation of, well, what’s the Wasteland’s version of an emperor? How is he going to dress? How is he going to move? What sort of flamboyance and charisma will he display in order to rally this hoard of bikers and people that will follow him? All of that.

And obviously, George is such a collaborative director, and this was a journey that you went on with him. How did that play out when you two were crafting Dementus, day in, day out, as you went through production?

It was just such a joy. It was such a luxury to have had conversations for two or three years prior to shooting—it was a constant investigation and discovery on what we were going to do. We had this script that was [sacrosanct], which changed in some ways, but it was our North Star through and through. And even if there were changes being made, they were due to a number of wonderful, creative, collaborative discussions about, “Could we intensify this moment somehow? Could we emphasise this action sequence or this violent act by doing this?” George has a wealth of knowledge and experience who knows every angle of this process and has been making this franchise for 45 years, but still welcomes opinions and collaboration. And so, I felt quite a privilege to be able to have a seat at the table and offer up ideas and suggestions, and be heard.

What does Anya Taylor-Joy bring to Furiosa? She’s crafted a one-of-a-kind performance, this literal lone figure in a madman’s world. What was it like creating this dynamic between this Warlord and this Warrior in the making?

She’s fantastic. There’s an incredible amount of suppression of vulnerability and fear, due to the character’s survival mechanism and being in the Wasteland, and being unable to show anything that remotely resembles empathy or vulnerability or weakness or fear. And to have that bubbling beneath the surface, just a well of knowledge, experience, emotion, feelings, strength. There are very few people on the planet, I think, who can say so much by doing so little, and she has that wonderful gift and is just fiercely protective of the character. And that really helped motivate and inform how my character needed to operate, in order for her to feel such disgust, resentment and rage toward my character—I needed to provide enough stimulus to justify that. It was great to just back-and-forth, throwing each other ideas and moments to allow both characters to organically grow through the film.

Furiosa Anya Taylor-Joy
British-US actress Anya Taylor-Joy poses during a photocall for the film "Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga" at the 77th edition of the Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, southern France, Image Credit: AFP

I know you spent a little time in the makeup chair. And how did that contribute to your portrayal?

It was the 3:00 AM pickup from a hotel, and the four hours in the makeup chair. It certainly birthed a justifiable—or much needed amount of—pent-up rage that I was allowed to display in front of the camera. So, I used it to my advantage. It was a real lesson in stillness, and I’m not great at sitting still. I’ve got a tendency to fidget, be distracted and so on, but I was forced to be in one space. It gave me plenty of time to think about the character.

Finally, what kind of experience is in store for the audience? What would you like them to ultimately take away from this amazing, amazing odyssey?

I think what’s unique about this film, even to the others in the Mad Max saga, is that it takes place over 15 years, so the expanse is much greater. There is this sort of Shakespearean epic tale: the shuffling of power and a real battle of wits from The Immortan Joe, Dementus, Furiosa, they’re fighting over these different resources—Gas Town, Bullet Farm, The Citadel—for survival. It is high octane, adrenaline-driven, action packed, but it’s a real character story, too. So I’m really excited for people to see it.

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Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga is out in UAE cinemas on May 24