Bring back some good or bad memories


January 3, 2024

Publicity Photos of Mel Gibson as Max Rockatansky in “Mad Max”

Max Rockatansky is the title character and antihero protagonist of the Australian post-apocalyptic action film series Mad Max. Created by director George Miller and producer Byron Kennedy, the character was originally played by actor Mel Gibson in the first three films from 1979 to 1985.

George Miller considered casting an American actor to “get the film seen as widely as possible” and even traveled to Los Angeles, but eventually opted to not do so as “the whole budget would be taken up by a so-called American name.” Instead, the cast deliberately featured lesser-known actors, so they did not carry past associations with them. Miller’s first choice for the role of Max was the Irish-born James Healey, who at the time worked at a Melbourne abattoir and was seeking a new acting job. Upon reading the script, Healey declined, finding the meager, terse dialogue unappealing.

Casting director Mitch Mathews invited a class of recent National Institute of Dramatic Art graduates to audition for Mad Max, specifically asking a NIDA teacher for “spunky young guys.” Among these actors was American-born Mel Gibson, whose audition impressed Miller and Matthews and earned him the role of Max. An apocryphal tale stated that Gibson went to auditions with a beat-up face following a fight, but this has been denied by both Matthews and Miller. Gibson’s friend and classmate Steve Bisley, who had worked with him in his only previous screen role, 1976’s Summer City, was cast as Max’s partner Jim Goose. A classmate of both, Judy Davis, has been said to have auditioned and been passed over, but Miller has declared she was only in Matthews’ studio to accompany Gibson and Bisley.

Principal photography for Mad Max took place in and around Melbourne and lasted for six weeks. The film initially received a polarized reception upon its release in April 1979, although it won four AACTA Awards. Filmed on a budget of A$400,000, it earned more than US$100 million worldwide in gross revenue and set a Guinness record for most profitable film. The success of Mad Max has been credited for further opening the global market to Australian New Wave films.


Post a Comment



Browse by Decades

Popular Posts


09 10