When Mad Max: Fury Road came out in 2015, folks immediately latched on to Charlize Theron’s performance as Furiosa. It was instantly iconic. So when it came time for director George Miller to make the upcoming prequel film Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga, many wondered why not just bring Charlize back? Why recast with Anya Taylor-Joy? Especially as de-aging software has become more common. Well, at one point, George Miller seriously considered doing just that. Ultimately, he decided to go the traditional prequel route, and recast the role with a younger performer. Here’s what he told Comic Book on the subject of whether or not to bring back Charlize Theron:

My intention was that we do it, we do it next [with Charlize Theron] But then we’ve now gone through the third parent company of Warner Bros. — there’s about four different regimes.That settled down by the time we got to actually do Furiosa, but the best part of a decade had gone by. And then I thought, ‘OK, we could still do it with Charlize.’ Then I saw these other movies like The Irishman, where they made people younger and particularly I saw Gemini Man. I was looking at was the technology; I wasn’t looking at performance. I thought, ‘We can’t do it.’

Furiosa recast from Mad Max Fury Road Charlize Theron and Anya Taylor Joy
Warner Bros.

In short, Miller didn’t think the de-aging technology was quite “there yet” enough to not be distracting. And we’re not sure he’s wrong about that. The viewer’s eyes are constantly looking for flaws or giveaways in digital de-aging scenes. It often becomes more about that than paying attention to the actual performance.

Miller further noted to Variety that both Scorsese and Lee, who directed The Irishman and Gemini Man, respectively, “were masterful directors, but it was never persuasive… I thought all people would be watching is Charlize [Theron] looking young and knowing it’s an effect.” He added, “I mean basically, we’re following someone from the age of 10 to 26, 28, something like that… It would have been difficult.”

Warner Bros.

Ultimately, Miller noted that he’s pleased with his decision to recast Charlize Theron as Furiosa and bring in Anya Taylor-Joy to the role. He shared, that Taylor-Jot, “had, in that physical sense, all the makings of that character — someone who has a lot of natural skills and abilities and someone who could survive in the wasteland, which is a pretty uncompromising world. She embodied all that… It’s an intuitive decision working with someone until you make that leap … I’m really proud of that work and the way the whole cast worked together.” Additionally, he noted to the Happy, Sad, Confused Podcast that after seeing a clip of Taylor-Joy in Last Night in Soho, he had a very strong response to what she did. “There’s something very powerful, she has a very powerful presence.” And director Edgar Wright assured him that she could do it all, not even knowing that Miller was thinking of Furiosa.

Miller reveals that he did speak briefly to Jodie Comer about the role, but that was quite some time before Furiosa came to fully be, and nothing really came together there.

Although we’re sad that Charlize Theron only got to play Furiosa once, Fury Road will always exist. We’re sure Anya Taylor-Joy will do for Furiosa what Ewan McGregor did for Obi-Wan Kenobi. She’ll create an iconic performance built around the foundation someone else created.

Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga arrives in theaters on May 24.

Originally published on May 7, 2024.