Anya Taylor-Joy as Furiosa

Why Isn’t Charlize Theron In Furiosa?

Mad Max: Fury Road was a tour de force when it was released in 2015 and became one of the most critically acclaimed action movies of its time. Now, nine years later, its prequel, Furiosa, is set to release, but it recast its lead. Imperator Furiosa will not be played by Charlize Theron like in the original film, but instead by Anya Taylor-Joy. Here’s why.

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Why Charlize Theron Isn’t In Furiosa, Explained

In case you haven’t seen Mad Max: Fury Road, despite being named after the eponymous road warrior, the film isn’t actually about him. The film instead centers on Imperator Furiosa, played by Charlize Theron, as she tries to rescue the wives of the cruel Immortan Joe and return to where she was originally from, the Green Place. Eventually her goal shifts to destroying everything that Joe built, but there’s no mistaking the film is about Furiosa and her arc. 

Originally, Fury Road and Furiosa were meant to be filmed back-to-back, with the treatment for Furiosa actually made before Fury Road’s script was completed. It was because of this initial story treatment that Charlize Theron joined the project in the first place and based her performance in Fury Road on this early version of the script. However, Miller eventually decided to just shoot Fury Road first and then film Furiosa at a later date, most likely due to how extensive the production of Fury Road ended up being. 

Production on Furiosa was delayed for several years after that for a multitude of reasons. First, there were pay disputes with Warner Bros. over unpaid salaries for Fury Road, then the Covid-19 pandemic delayed virtually every major Hollywood production, and then Miller began production on 2022’s Three Thousand Years of Longing. By that point, it had been a decade since Mad Max: Fury Road was filmed and Charlize Theron was, naturally, a decade older, which would have made filming a prequel set 15 years before the events of Fury Road somewhat complicated. 

Furiosa screaming in the desert

Miller could have chosen to de-age Charlize Theron using CGI, but in an interview with the New York Times in 2020, Miller said that he was unconvinced at the capabilities of de-ageing technology at the time and said it resulted in an “Uncanny Valley” effect that would just be distracting. Given how Fury Road was heralded for its use of practical effects and Furiosa (hopefully) will keep that tradition alive, it makes sense for Miller to do that. It’s certainly upsetting for Theron, who according to Empire, begged Miller during the pre-production of Fury Road to shoot Furiosa soon for this very reason, but sometimes that’s the way it goes. 

Instead, the younger Furiosa will be played by Anya Taylor-Joy, whom Miller cast after seeing her performance in 2021’s Last Night in Soho. Taylor-Joy did base her performance on Theron’s, so even though Charlize Theron won’t physically be in the movie, at least her take on the character has directly inspired how she’ll be portrayed in Furiosa. So, while it’s unfortunate that Charlize Theron won’t be reprising her role as Furiosa in the prequel, at the very least it seems like there’s no bad blood between her, Miller, and Taylor-Joy. 

Furiosa releases in theaters on May 24, 2024.


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Jesse Lab
Jesse Lab is a freelance writer for The Escapist and has been a part of the site since 2019. He currently writes the Frame Jump column, where he looks at and analyzes major anime releases. He also writes for the film website Flixist.com. Jesse has been a gamer since he first played Pokémon Snap on the N64 and will talk to you at any time about RPGs, platformers, horror, and action games. He can also never stop talking about the latest movies and anime, so never be afraid to ask him about recommendations on what's in theaters and what new anime is airing each season.