In our exclusive interview with the Mad Max: Fury Road cast, Tom Hardy explains the very real correlations between Max and The Littlest Hobo. Plus Charlize opens about the motivation behind Imperator Furiosa.

Max Rockatansky/Tom Hardy

Is he going to be an ex-cop in this? Are you playing with the backstory at all?

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Tom Hardy: That’s hard to say, so, George says one thing, and that’s what goes. My understanding of it was, because we’re in the desert, because we had to move from Broken Hill, which is clearly Australian, and it’s a very different environment because of the landscape, which is clearly a huge character in it. Then I imagined, if this is post-apocalyptic now, what kind of policeman or police officer would he be? I had him more coming from private risk management companies or from that territory — the military, special forces. So that’s why you’ve got the rig on top of the classic silhouette, and ear piece for his team. So yes police, but in a different world police kind of territory.

The villains in this, and all the past films…

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Tom Hardy: They’re amazing.

They are always so huge. Does that make you feel like you have to go big too, or does it make you reel in even more?

Tom Hardy: Max is kind of like a dog. Things just happen to him, and he sort of has to get through it. Do you remember The Littlest Hobo, did you ever see that TV show? It’s a little bit like that. I always thought of him like that and Wile E. Coyote. Because ultimately, it’s a bit of a sad story with Max; he just wants to go home, and he gets dragged into other people’s drama. And he tries not to connect with them, and then when he does, awful stuff happens. Ultimately he just wants a nice place to rest up. He’s got his own demons. His backstory is still very much there.

And the villains, do you go big or…

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Tom Hardy: Oh, quite the opposite, do nothing. Because it happens to you. It’s how you react in the scenario. That’s the interesting thing about anti-hero character leads is that you’re allowed a certain level of personality to go with it so long as it’s substantiated by evidence in the script.

And how much of that do you have to just find within yourself? Because you didn’t have a script — you only had the storyboard to go on. What was it like working without a script?

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Tom Hardy: It’s a result-based environment. Max has to get from here to there, without getting hit by that. So that’s really what it is. What is your personal feeling about avoiding getting hurt on numerous occasions throughout six months? It’s kind of that. In that way, Wile E. Coyote, he just wants an easier life, and he’s not going to get one. There’s a lot of humor to play a character like that as well. He reminded me a lot of Indiana Jones. When I was a kid, I used to watch Harrison Ford. He was the kind of hero lead who had a sense of humor and a sense of mortality. He would do things that were pretty cool, but he was scared of snakes. He very, very scary but he wasn’t really hoo-rah about it. He was scared, and I like that about him.

Everyone keeps calling this movie one scene. Is this film just two hours out of Max’s life?

Tom Hardy: Pretty much, yea. It’s the end of Road Warrior, for the whole movie. But the characters, the cars, the different tribes, different vehicles. To get inanimate vehicles to interact in a way where you’re very clear on who’s who, and what’s going on. And then the stunts and the coordination of that, it’s a very hard thing to articulate, that kind of choreography. And in itself, it’s a huge scale and not to be dismissed. That’s why this movie is so spectacular, because ultimately that’s what [George Miller is] doing. And he has done it [before], having done it with Babe and Happy Feet and having worked in animation and worked with inanimate objects in many ways with breathing life in them. He’s also done that again in an action movie that also has that mythology and spectacle as well. As a movie project itself it stands out for that; it’s a spectacular even. And rightfully so, because what he’s done is incredible.

Imperator Furiosa/Charlize Theron

What’s is like to shoot without a script (almost)?

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Charlize Theron: Well, I feel like us actors kind of set out this rumor that there was no script. I wonder, I haven’t talked to George about, but I wonder if he’s upset about it. Because there was a script; it just wasn’t a conventional script, in the sense that we kind of know scripts with scene numbers. Initially it was just a storyboard, and we worked off that storyboard for almost three years. And then eventually, there was a kind of written version of the storyboard, which just felt like a written version of the storyboard, again not like a script. I think the hardest thing for us, as actors, to get our heads around, was that the movie really was one big scene. Usually you have scenes and this was one big scene. So we shot one big scene for 138 days. That was tricky because everyday you show up and you don’t really know where you are in that scene. George was really at understanding what he wanted. And the movie was in his head. After a while ,we all understood that we just had to let him do his thing.

In the trailer we’ve seen your character rescuing these waifish women in white what is her relationship with these women?

Charlize Theron: It’s good. It’s not supposed to be overly explained. And I like that George decided to keep it kind of ambiguous in the film. When we talked about it, we liked the ambiguity, that there wasn’t a specific heroism about it. That she was protecting them or helping them or saving them. There was a chance that she was just doing it for pure retaliation and revenge. That she was hurt by this guy and decided to take his most valuable objects, objects, people women... breeders, as they’re called in the movie. There were human conflicts behind it that weren’t so simple. It wasn’t just black and white.