“Shiny and Chrome”: The Cult of the V8 in Mad Max: Fury Road, Before and Behind the Cameras

Trevor Talley’s new article for CBR.com reveals the intense, cult-like preparations undergone by actors and stuntmen who played the fearsome War Boys in George Miller’s Mad Max: Fury Road (2015).

More details on the War Boys’ behind-the-scenes training is available in the book Blood, Sweat & Chrome: The Wild and True Story of Mad Max: Fury Road.

The War Boys are essentially warrior monks, devotees of the Cult of the V8, whose almost symbiotic relationship with their vehicles and fanatical devotion to their leader Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne) were honed through method-acting sessions with dramaturg/acting coach Nadia Townsend:

Under her training, the large group of War Boy stuntmen met multiple times a week for many hours and underwent intense bonding and training activities meant to get them to embody their characters.

These sessions are now legendary, utilizing a number of bizarre methods. “Shoes and shirts off” was common, as were kinetic physical activities like mosh pits to get the War Boys used to moving their bodies in sync and in contact with each other, something seen often in the film. Chanting and singing together became a core part of the bonding, starting with nursery rhymes chanted loudly and eventually leading to the back-and-forth War Boy chants in Fury Road. The ritualistic chanting even made it between scenes (much behind-the-scenes Fury Road footage is available) as the War Boys fell deeper into their characters.

To this sensory training was added acting lessons, deep character creation for each part and, unsurprisingly, a very strict diet and constant trips to the gym. Miller continued to push for each War Boy to know every single thing about his character, including their full history down to why there might be a specific rip in their clothes or a dent on their car. Scott Gregory’s character, for instance, was known as Vee Gas because Gregory himself had a Las Vegas tattoo. It was true full immersion, and many former War Boys have affectionately compared it to a cult, which Fury Road documentary footage very much echoes. Through these methods, the War Boys came to life, with stuntman Stuart Williamson saying:

“They’re getting us to come face-to-face with each other, to actually cry for each other, because they made us think in our minds that the man in front of us is going to die soon. So, we have to basically fight for our last breath.”