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‘Mad Max 4’ director explains why he passed on Mel Gibson for upcoming sequel

It looks like Mel Gibson’s days as n Max Rockatansky are done. The 58-year-old actor, who shot to fame as the main character in three “Mad Max” films will not be involved in the long-awaited upcoming sequel, “Mad Max: Fury Road.”

KARLOVY VARY, CZECH REPUBLIC - JULY 04: Actor Mel Gibson attends the opening ceremony of the 49th Karlovy Vary International Film Festival (KVIFF) on July 4, 2014 in Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic. The festival opened with the movie 'I Origins'.
Photo by Matej Divizna/Getty Images

On Sunday, the Washington Post posed an AP interview with director George Miller, who helped launch Gibson’s career in the early 1980s with the original “Mad Max” trilogy. While Miller had originally hoped to bring Gibson back for a fourth film in the series, he ultimately recast the iconic part with a younger actor, 36-year-old Tom Hardy (“Inception,” “Lawless”).

“You’re picking up the characters and the backstory as you go,” Miller said of the upcoming film. “And in order to create that backstory, we found ourselves having written two other screenplays … So by the time we got there, we realized we've got a couple more Mad Max stories to tell, and that ... required us to cast someone who was younger.'

The famed director also revealed that while he has “a great affection for Mel,” he was ultimately “heartbroken” to see the actor’s personal problems play out in the media: “I hope Mel gets to act in more movies because I think he’s a wonderful actor,” Miller said.

In an interview last month with Hero Complex, Miller acknowledges that he originally wanted Gibson to reprise the role of Max Rockatansky more than 14 years ago.

“We talked about it and Mel wanted to do it,” he said. “This was in 2000, I guess. We were setting it up and then when 9/11 happened, the American dollar crashed against the Australian dollar and in one day we lost about 20 percent of our budget … And one thing led to another — time went by and Mel was having his troubles — and then Tom Hardy walked into our lives.“

Gibson’s “troubles” included a 2006 drunk driving arrest, a highly publicized anti-Semitic rant, and very messy splits from both his wife Robyn and Russian pianist Oksana Grigorieva.

Gibson himself has gone on record as saying his days as the “Mad Max” icon are done. In 2009, he told MTV, “No, that’s in the past” when asked about the iconic role. He also revealed that he landed the part in an unusual way: “I just walked in and [director George Miller] asked me to tell him a joke. I did, and I got the gig,” he said.

Gibson revealed that by the time the second installment of the trilogy rolled around, he and Miller were on the same page as far as the direction of the “Mad Max” series.

By the time we got around to the second one ["The Road Warrior"]… there was more of a history to us. And there was more to bring to it, which was actually less. That’s what I discovered. Do nothing. Look bored. [Max] is a closet human being,” he said.

“Mad Max: Fury Road” is slated to hit theaters next May.

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