The Mad Max franchise has seen a few iconic stars over the years, but one of the most notable was Anglo-Australian performer Hugh Keays-Byrne, the only one to portray two villains across the four films, but ComingSoon.net is sad to report (via ScreenCrush) that the actor has died at the age of 73.
After making his acting debut in the 1967 TV series Boy Meets Girl, Keays-Byrne made the jump to big-screen features in the 1974 outlaw biker film Stone, which Mad Max co-creator George Miller credited as being a major inspiration for the original film and led him to casting the star as the action pic’s central villain, Toecutter. While Miller would go on to move outside of Australia for projects following the third Mad Max movie, Keays-Byrne would mostly remain in the country for other projects including the 1980 disaster thriller The Chain Reaction, the historical drama Strikebound and Australian-American co-produced sci-fi series Farscape and its miniseries finale The Peacekeeper Wars.
Miller and Keays-Byrne were initially set to reunite in 2007 on the writer/director’s in-development Justice League: Mortal as Martian Manhunter, even doing a make-up and wardrobe test for the character, only for the project to be cancelled as the Writers Guild of America strike at the time and continued production delays from Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Trilogy continued to create problems for Warner Bros. and Miller. The two would eventually reunite for 2015’s Mad Max: Fury Road, in which he would star as the central antagonist Immortan Joe, becoming the only actor to portray two separate villains in the series, though some speculate he’s a more twisted version of a somehow-still-alive Toecutter. Though not retiring from acting after the film, it would mark his final career performance prior to his death.
Many fans have taken to social media to express their grief over the loss of the star, some of which include:
Most people never play a great Mad Max villain. Hugh Keays-Byrne played two of em. RIP.
— Tom Breihan (@tombreihan) December 2, 2020
Happy trails, Immortan Joe.
Hugh Keays-Byrne, 1947-2020. https://t.co/tsENfIYS0L
— Alamo Drafthouse (@alamodrafthouse) December 2, 2020
I once attended a screening of FURY ROAD hosted by George Miller and Keays-Byrne, and that dude was one of the most effortlessly cool folks I’ve ever seen work a room. See you in Valhalla, Hugh. https://t.co/iRflJiYucv
— Scott Wampler™ (@ScottWamplerBMD) December 2, 2020
By all accounts, Hugh Keays-Byrne, who trained at the Royal Shakespeare Company, was an absolutely wonderful human who fought very hard for environmental and humanitarian issues. This photo of him from earlier this year says it all.
You will ride eternal, shiny and chrome. pic.twitter.com/5Fyzdj998F
— Ted Geoghegan (@tedgeoghegan) December 2, 2020
I interviewed the wonderful Hugh Keays-Byrne when FURY ROAD came out and he did almost the entire interview in-charaxter as Immortan Joe. One of the best interviews ever, and just a lovely man in general. RIP, sir. https://t.co/8E4zFjEABM
— Twas the Bibbs Before Christmas (@WilliamBibbiani) December 2, 2020
It’s a sad day to have to say goodbye to The Toecutter and Immortan Joe. RIP Hugh Keays-Bryne, who played indelible baddies in the first and last Mad Max films – 36 years apart. https://t.co/JxwESp57cP
— edgarwright (@edgarwright) December 2, 2020
(Photo Credit: Getty Images)