Exclusive Interview With ‘Mad Max’ Villain The Immortan Joe

It started out innocently enough. I sat in a room next to Australian actor Hugh Keays-Byrne, the actor who plays the villainous “Immortan Joe” in the incredible new action movie Mad Max: Fury Road. But as the interview started, and I began to prod about what Immortan Joe must have felt like after Furiosa (Charlize Theron) kidnapped his many wives, prompting a deadly car chase throughout the wasteland, I noticed that Hugh Keays-Byrne didn’t answer many questions as himself: he answered them as The Immortan Joe, a character with whom the actor obviously has great sympathy. The Immortan Joe sees himself as the aggrieved party in George Miller’s thrilling new film, and what follows is his intimate perspective on how the events transpired on screen.

Is The Immortan Joe an evil fascist dictator or a victimized civil servant? Decide for yourself after reading this exclusive interview with the “antagonist” of Mad Max: Fury Road! 

[Editor’s Note: As a policy, CraveOnline does not endorse or affiliate itself with the following ideas and philosophies espoused by The Immortan Joe.]

CraveOnline: As Immortan Joe, it seems like you’re trying to impose order on the chaos.

The Immortan Joe: Yes! Not “impose” order. I’m a renaissance man, trying to rebuild with outreach programs, get these people up. Help, help, help. I mean, I’m feeding them blood to keep them alive. I’ve got hydroponic gardens. You know, this guy is like a redeemer in terms of how he’s rebuilding a whole waste.

And this jerk comes in and totally screws it up.

That woman. Traitor! You could say “terrorist.” Trying to undermine the whole fabric of society by taking away some very valuable assets. These assets have purity of blood, purity of genetic strain, all of these things which are very necessary to keep going.

It really is kind of Furiosa’s movie, isn’t it?

Well, in terms of she instigates. She’s the terrorist.

Max is just sort of along for the ride. 

Yes…

Well, literally I suppose. 

Exactly. On all levels!

What is the health crisis, exactly, that’s undergoing your town?

Well, it’s not really my town, it’s the health crisis of the whole place, and that’s like the health crises we have now. In all sorts of ways we don’t understand why there’s now more whatever there is now. The cancers. Is cancer growing? Is this growing? Is that growing? Those things are much more… So, you can put it down [to] chemicals, basically all the things we can put it down to. Any gene-bending stuff.

The whole environment has been…

The whole environment has been infected with all sorts of bad stuff.

The Immortan Joe Mad Max Fury Road

What about the mask you wear? Does that serve a particular function? Is that a ventilator?

Yes. So that, being a well-off person, I’m able to – me and my big son – we have clean air. That comes expensive. It’s hard to get.

Did you do all your own stunts or did they protect you in some way?

They protected me totally. Absolutely. I never did anything. I was just there. What’s to do?

You didn’t just drive around? I mean, you were in the car and stuff…

I was in the car! As you saw, I was driving it! Amazing!

It’s a cool car!

It is a cool car…

What’s it like? Was it powerful or was all on the screen?

No, it is powerful. When it started up you knew it had started. [Laughs.] You wanted to keep pushing that pedal.

What is an “Immortan?”

“Immortal Man.” So the cult, the idea: you can’t kill me. I’m here forever, and I just keep going in this mayhem that we are surrounded with. This natural world which is falling apart, I am able to control. Out of the ashes you will rise, with my help.

What exactly is the silver stuff you spray on Nicholas Hoult’s face?

That’s like a very euphoric drug.

It looked like they were just spray painting their face. Oh, that’s so gross!

Well, it’s gross but it isn’t gross. 

Mad Max Fury Road Furiosa Wives

The Immortan Joe is very focused. He doesn’t seem to get distracted or off-task.

Well, it’s a hunt for cunning wives. Yes… There’s nothing much else to think about until they come home.

They seem nice. 

They were, until they took off.

They had nice living quarters.

They had everything. Everything they could dream of.

Except freedom.

Oh no, they had freedom. They got talked out of their freedom by somebody who thought they could make them freer. And [for] what…?

It doesn’t end up too well for a lot of them.

No, why would it? If they’d stayed there everything would have been fine.

A lot more people would be alive.

Yes! This is the thing about people who want to tear structure down, tear the fabric. [Laughs.]

That’s the thing, at the end of the film, how are they going to run things differently? Are they going to unload all the water at once? They’re still going to have to make all the tough decisions that they didn’t like Joe making.

Tell me about it. I tried to talk to them! I tried to tell them! They never listen. That’s the thing, isn’t it? Dictators today. The troubles we have.

You’re so selfless!

Everybody’s looking for a firm father. 

I know I am.

[Laughs.]

Mad Max Fury Road Immortan Joe

I would have worked out great in Immortan Joe’s establishment. I’m not very physical but I’m sure I’d come up with something to do…

Sure. Plenty to do.

It’s a very busy crew.

All the gardens, all of that huge…

Was all of that CGI? Or was all that real?

All. Hydroponics built, all real.

The gears and everything?

The big wheels?

Yeah.

Oh no, they were there! You could see the people on them. I used to, for fun, I’d go and talk to them. They’re all on the wheel. We were shooting a scene in the other part of the studio, and then okay, I finished and I’d watch all of these lads. So I used to have this thing where I used to call, “Daddy loves you!” and then “We love you Daddy!” was the reply. So we rehearsed all these huge chants and calls that we used to do. So I used to go and stand at those wheels. I couldn’t tell you how big they are. 

They don’t build sets like that anymore.

No, they don’t, and that’s the joy of the film. It works because of all these things. People are quite clue-y to CGI.

Right? We’re willing to accept it but we know it’s fake.

And when it actually isn’t there, something else happens again, I think. They go, “It it must be… Oh, not it’s not.” Like poof!

We went away from practical effects because CGI was special, and now CGI is so banal. You can do anything with it, so doing it for real is now the special effect.

That’s right. And I think that’s what George really pulled off. I think he pulled it off. He’s a very clever man.

 


William Bibbiani is the editor of CraveOnline’s Film Channel and the host of The B-Movies Podcast. Follow him on Twitter at @WilliamBibbiani.