It’s no secret that Mad Max: Fury Road (a.k.a. Mad Max 4) began filming over a month ago, with George Miller calling the shots. Tom Hardy was proudly sporting the frizzly beard he grew to play Max Rockatansky throughout his promotion of The Dark Knight Rises, while Charlize Theron was enthusiastically talking about the script (co-written by Miller) and how reading it left her “scared s**tless” a couple months ago.

Nonetheless, we’re just getting an official press release for the start of principal photography on the new Mad Max film, following the release of several set photos online six weeks ago (scroll on down for the details).

Here’s a rundown of the Fury Road cast, along with a synopsis:

“Mad Max: Fury Road”–the fourth in the franchise’s history–stars Tom Hardy (“The Dark Knight Rises”) in the title role of Max Rockatansky, alongside Oscar(R) winner Charlize Theron (“Monster”, “Prometheus”) as Imperator Furiosa.

According to Miller, “Mad Max is caught up with a group of people fleeing across the Wasteland in a War Rig driven by the Imperator Furiosa. This movie is an account of the Road War which follows. It is based on the Word Burgers of the History Men and eyewitness accounts of those who survived.”

“Mad Max: Fury Road” also stars Nicholas Hoult (“X-Men: First Class”) as Nux; Hugh Keays-Byrne (“Mad Max,” “Sleeping Beauty”) as Immortan Joe; and Nathan Jones (“Conan the Barbarian”) as Rictus Erectus. Collectively known as The Wives, Zoe Kravitz (“X-Men: First Class”) plays Toast, Riley Keough (“Magic Mike”) is Capable, and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley (“Transformers: Dark of the Moon”) is Splendid. They are joined by supermodel Abbey Lee Kershaw as The Dag and Courtney Eaton as Fragile, both of whom are making their big screen debuts. Also featured in the movie are Josh Helman as Slit, Jennifer Hagan as Miss Giddy, and singer/songwriter/performer iOTA as Coma-Doof Warrior.

The 'Mad Max: Fury Road' Set

Fury Road is filming in Africa, due to severe flooding in Broken Hill of New South Wales, Australia, that forced a relocation for the production. That landscape is no longer the arid terrain necessary to create the devastated post-apocalyptic setting of the Mad Max universe (known as the Wasteland).

For a long time, there seemed to be a good chance that Fury Road would go the route of Miller’s Justice League movie, which collapsed back in the 2000s. Hopefully, Fury Road will be (wait for it…) a road worth traveling, considering how many false starts Mad Max fans have endured over the past several years. If nothing else, it’s a welcome change of pace for its director, who’s spent the last decade making Happy Feet movies.

Mad Max: Fury Road is expected to reach theaters by 2013. We’ll let you know when an official release date has been set.