Hugh Keays-Byrne Played TWO Iconic Mad Max Villains

Hugh Keays-Byrne has played not one, but two iconic roles in the Mad Max franchise. Here's how he crafted Toecutter and Immortan Joe.

hugh keays byrne toecutter immortan joe

Actor Hugh Keays-Byrne has played not one, but two great Mad Max villains. The original Mad Max from director George Miller (Happy Feet 2) was shot for a tiny budget, but the movie's depiction of society collapsing combined with Mel Gibson's charismatic performance and the high-octane chase sequences made it a surprise hit worldwide. It didn't take long for Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior to come together, which upped the scale considerably, featuring even more intense chases and a fleshed out, post-apocalyptic world that would be massively influential on other movies.

Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome would prove to be a disappointment, with the film reducing the violence and chaos in favor of a PG-13 rating. The movie still featured great action and a spirited supporting turn by Tina Turner, but it's considered the weakest of the series. George Miller spent over a decade developing 2015's Mad Max: Fury Road, which was delayed by a myriad of factors. The final movie proved to be worth the long wait, however, with Fury Road being acclaimed as one of the best action movies of its era.

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While Miller has two further Mad Max scripts already written, legal issues may prevent a new entry for years to come. Another element of Mad Max: Fury Road that received praise was the performance of Hugh Keays-Byrne (Farscape) as tyrant warlord Immortan Joe. Half of Joe's face is covered by a breather mask, meaning even fans might have missed that Keays-Byrne also played main antagonist Toecutter in the original Mad Max too.

Toecutter is the leader of a ruthless motorcycle gang in Mad Max. He targets Max for his role in the death of a member of his gang, leading to the murder of Max's wife and child. Part of what makes Hugh Keays-Byrne so frightening in the role is that Toecutter's both insane and cunning. He's an intelligent psychopath and likes to inflict psychological violence on his victims before killing them. This proves to be his downfall, with Max pushed over the edge by his family's death, spurring him to track down and kill Toecutter's gang. Hugh Keays-Byrne is also a theatrical actor, having previously performed in a number of Shakespeare plays, and he brings that energy to Toecutter.

George Miller would later offer Keays-Byrne the role of Immortan Joe when Mad Max: Fury Road came together, though Toecutter and Joe have no connections. Immortan Joe was a Colonel in the old world and seized power when everything went to hell. Joe is shown to be in poor health when Fury Road begins, being covered in boils and having trouble breathing without a mask. He hides this with a muscular armor adorned with medals and his breather is decorated to make him look fierce. Joe has built up a legend around himself but despite committing clear acts of evil, he believes he's doing the right thing.

When Furiosa (Charlize Theron) rescues Joe's "wives," this leads to an epic chase across the desert, with Tom Hardy's Max getting caught in the middle. Immortan Joe is another great villain for the franchise, with Hugh Keays-Byrne delivering a powerful turn despite being covered in make-up and a mask. On one hand, Joe himself is somewhat pathetic and repulsive, but through fear and propaganda, he's made himself more than a man. Both Toecutter and Immortan Joe are villains audiences love to hate and it's very satisfying to see them defeated. With the Mad Max movies, Hugh Keays-Byrne has managed to craft two iconic villains within the same franchise, which is no mean feat.

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