"I remember vividly the day," says camera operator Mark Goellnicht of the single incident that resulted in cursing, screaming, posturing and a change to how the production would move forward.
Much has been made about the fury on the set of "Mad Max: Fury Road" between stars Charlize Theron and Tom Hardy, including from the duo themselves, but a new book details a major incident that sent their war over the top.
"It was like two parents in the front of the car," said Theron in the book, per excerpts published in Vanity Fair and USA Today. "We were either fighting or we were icing each other -- I don’t know which one is worse -- and they had to deal with it in the back."
The they, of course, was the production crew. But with millions invested in the film, there was little they could but try to ride the waves and do everything they could to try and keep the peace as their stars went to war with one another.
"It was horrible! We should not have done that; we should have been better," Theron added. "I can own up to that."
Hardy owned up to his role in their feud as well, with both having previously admitted that a lot of it had to do with a lack of trust in one another as scene partners on top of a grueling production schedule.
"What she needed was a better, perhaps more experienced partner in me," admitted Hardy in the new book. "I’d like to think that now that I’m older and uglier, I could rise to that occasion."
He admitted that he was over his head in many ways with the film and that "the pressure on both of us was overwhelming at times."
Others who were there on the set said that some of the tension came from their very different approaches to their craft. "Tom is very provocative. Charlize isn't. And it was a clash," said first assistant camera Ricky Shamburg.
Co-star Richard Norton expanded on that a bit, saying that, "Tom would want justification for every bit of choreography, not just in the actual action but in the pre-setup of the action and everything else. Charlize, her basic want is simple: I just want to f----- kill him. Let's shoot it." Eveyrone seemed to agree that the tension between them was there right from the beginning.
One thing the book reveals that's not been spoken about for was a huge triggering incident that seemed to push the tension between the co-stars to new heights, and even went so far as to change how the production was able to move forward. And it certainly sounds like it fell in that category Hardy was talking about saying that Theron needed "a better, more experienced partner."
"I remember vividly the day," said camera operator Mark Goellnicht about the day the changed the set forever and it all had to do with professionalism. The call time for that day's shoot was eight in the morning, so Theron was there, in full makeup and ready to go in the film's war rig.
She was ready to go even though, as Goellnicht said, everyone knew Hardy wasn't going to be there. "Tom’s never going to be there at eight even though they made a special request for him to be there on time," he said. "He was notorious for never being on time in the morning. If the call time was in the morning, forget it -- he didn’t show up."
What he did do was show up three hours late, with the entire production on pause while they waited for him. "Whether that was some kind of power play or not, I don’t know, but it felt deliberately provocative," said Schamburg in the book. He also believes that Hardy knew his chronic tardiness was frustrating Theron.
On this day, she'd apparently waited long enough and had enough, coming right at Hardy when he finally arrived. "She jumps out of the War Rig, and she starts swearing her head off at him, saying, ‘Fine the f------ c--- a hundred thousand dollars for every minute that he’s held up this crew,’ and ‘How disrespectful you are!'" Goellnicht recalled, agreeing that "she was right."
Goellnicht isn't sure how much of what Theron was saying Hardy actually heard over all the noise of the set and over the wind, but remembers "he charged up to her and went, ‘What did you say to me?' He was quite aggressive. She really felt threatened, and that was the turning point."
From that point, Theron said she put her foot down, demanding that a female producer be on set to "maybe equalize some of it." She added, "A lot of what I felt was coming my way from Doug [Mitchell, a producer] was … oh, (screw) it. I’ll just say it. It was a man forgiving another man for really bad behavior, and I didn’t feel safe."
For his part, Hardy pushed back against the notion that Theron could feel intimidated or bullied by him. "Charlize is an intense woman. Very intense, actually. In a good way," he said. "I mean, look at her in Monster -- that’s not somebody walking in the park. You don’t just summon up that kind of authenticity without bringing a tremendous wealth of artistic ability."
"She’s a very serious actor," he continued. "So, I don’t see why she would ever be intimidated by me or in any way feel frightened. I think that was more bollocks."
Ultimately, veteran producer Denise Di Novi came down and effectively shadowed Theron and even helped mediate some conflicts between her and Hardy. Theron was grateful for director George Miller's willingness to afford her this concession. "That kind of made me breathe a little bit, because it felt like I would have another woman understanding what I was up against," she noted.