Anya Taylor-Joy pulls off insane driving stunts in 'Furiosa' – all without a driver's licence

Anya Taylor-Joy plays the younger Furiosa originally played by Charlize Theron in the new 'Mad Max' film. Photo: Handout

It is mind-boggling to learn that Anya Taylor-Joy doesn’t have a driver’s licence and yet in the latest Mad Max movie, the 28-year-old showcases all kinds of fancy driving skills.

In Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga, Taylor-Joy’s character handles “a jacked up” wheeler (aka War Rig used to transport goods) and efficiently makes 180° turns with the ginormous truck.

She is also behind the wheel of a modified muscle car that runs up sand dunes and ably speeds up on a dirt bike with just one hand.

The actress laughs when StarLifestyle asks her if it’s true that she doesn’t have a driver’s licence during our Zoom interview.

“Movieland is a strange place. In the wasteland, I have my driver’s licence, I’m fully allowed to drive around,” she tells us from Sydney, Australia where she and co-star Chris Hemsworth make their first pitstop of the film’s global press tour which includes a visit to the Cannes Film Festival.

In Furiosa, Taylor-Joy plays the titular role originally portrayed by Charlize Theron in the 2015 series reboot Mad Max: Fury Road.

This new film is set 15 years prior to Fury Road.

It tracks Furiosa from the age of 10 (played by Alyla Browne) to 26 (Taylor-Joy), showcasing various events and people she meets that set her on the path of becoming the wasteland warrior princess Imperator Furiosa.

The slender actress reasons she never got around to getting her driver’s licence as she grew up in London where “everyone just walks and takes the tube everywhere”.

“You don’t really need a licence. And then when I started working, I never stopped.

“I was never in one place long enough to go through the entire process of it,” adds the star of such popular projects like the series The Queen’s Gambit as well as films Split, The Menu and Emma.

Anya Taylor-Joy (left) and director George Miller on location in Australia. Anya Taylor-Joy (left) and director George Miller on location in Australia.

Born in Miami, the United States, and raised in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and London, Britain, Taylor-Joy started acting as a teenager.

Her passion for acting was so strong that the youngest of six siblings decided to quit school at 16 in order to pursue it full time.

The British-American actress found success in this field three years later with the 2015 film The Witch.

From then, she accumulated an impressive number of acting jobs, also made a name as a fashion darling and is the global ambassador for several brands.

Although her introduction to driving may not be typical, Taylor-Joy tells StarLifestyle she’s looking forward to getting her licence “not only in normal driving, but also in stunt driving” sometime soon.

“I completely fell in love with stunt driving and the individuals that do it – it’s a really fun group of people that are interested in like doing crazy things in cars.

“Once this tour is over, once I come back down to earth, I hope I can get the licence and then take (the stunt team) out for a fun joyride,” says Taylor-Joy, who is married to musician-actor Malcolm McRae.

(From left) Director George Miller, Anya Taylor-Joy, and Alyla Browne pose for photographers upon arrival at the premiere of the film 'Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga' at the 77th international film festival, Cannes, southern France, on May 15, 2024. Photo: AP(From left) Director George Miller, Anya Taylor-Joy, and Alyla Browne pose for photographers upon arrival at the premiere of the film 'Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga' at the 77th international film festival, Cannes, southern France, on May 15, 2024. Photo: AP

Furiosa is the fifth film in the Mad Max series created by director-writer George Miller.

It is set in a post-apocalyptic world where there is a shortage of basic resources such as food and water. The already dire situation is made worse by marauding road gangs and tyrants like Hemsworth’s Warlord Dementus in Furiosa, a charismatic leader whose biker horde creates chaos across the wasteland.

The series began with the 1979 feature Mad Max starring Mel Gibson, followed by Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior (1981) and Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (1985).

It was revived three decades later with Fury Road headlined by Tom Hardy and Theron.

That 2015 film went on to gross more than US$380mil globally and garnered six Academy Awards.

Nine years later, the prequel Furiosa arrives at cinemas on May 23.

In several interviews, Miller has said that the first draft of the screenplay for Furiosa began as part of the character development process for Fury Road.

He wrote her backstory to really know how this character ends up as the war captain serving wasteland tyrant Immortan Joe, and later rebels by freeing the women he kept as his “breeders”.

“We had to write the story of Furiosa before we even attempted to make Fury Road,” Miller explains in the film’s production notes.

Describing the new film as the saga of Furiosa, he adds: “On the simplest level, it’s about someone who’s taken from home as a child and makes a promise to return home, whatever it takes. And she spends her whole life trying to get home. It’s an odyssey.

“Now, the purpose of an ‘odyssey’ is not the actual events that happen so much as what’s happening to the soul of the protagonist. So, it’s about what happens to her in that attempt to get home and who she becomes.”

Fortunately, with Taylor-Joy portraying the younger Furiosa, Miller says he’s found a collaborator who cares equally about this character and even provides her grit.

“There’s no question that she brought something that’s ferocious to the movie – whether it’s in her or not, she found that in herself,” explains Miller of Taylor-Joy.

“There’s something resolute, highly determined and ultimately ferocious that’s in her. And that’s seen on the screen.

“She’s not physically afraid – I think it’s in her genetics. I think it’s in her upbringing. And certainly I think it’s in the way that she took on this work.”

Indeed, Taylor-Joy – who is “a huge fan” of the franchise – tells StarLifestyle that she was very much attracted to the challenges Furiosa presented her.

“I’d been looking for something that was going to test me on all fronts. I wanted to be pushed. And I think that the physical element was a huge aspect of that for me. I also love any opportunity to face a fear.

“I crashed a motorbike when I was 19. And so I was kind of planning to never get back on one again. And through this role, you know, I’m riding a motorbike.

“So yeah, I was excited to push past fears and get to the other side of them.”

Furiosa presented an unique challenge to the actor. Photo: HandoutFuriosa presented an unique challenge to the actor. Photo: Handout

Training began a year before filming started.

In that time, Taylor-Joy worked with a personal trainer, action trainer, fighting trainer and driving trainer – just perfecting all the skills she needed as Furiosa.

Naturally, in the process Taylor-Joy became fit and stronger than she’s ever been in her life.

Still, regardless of how much she prepared, Taylor-Joy shares that the schedule for an action movie like Mad Max is pretty intense. What more for Taylor-Joy who appears in almost every scene.

“The hardest thing about this movie, hands down, was just how isolated I was. As Furiosa, in this movie, I was pretty much always alone.

“And I had a really insane schedule in the sense of whenever I wasn’t on the main unit, I was always on the second unit.

“So I was working six days a week. For the six-and-a-half months that I was there, I think I had a couple of weekends.”

Production shot 156 days on location in Australia to create the “Mad Max Wasteland”, and another 84 days in a studio.

Furiosa also boasts a 15-minute action sequence which Miller called Stowaway To Nowhere (you’ll know it when you see it) that was shot over nine months.

It’s a crucial scene as this is the moment Furiosa grows and becomes her own in this universe.

The War Rig featured in 'Furiosa' is a lot shinier. Photo: HandoutThe War Rig featured in 'Furiosa' is a lot shinier. Photo: Handout

Although Taylor-Joy had a lot of heavy lifting to do, she says she doesn’t mind it as she had a great team backing her at all times.

“I am so grateful to the team around me, like my stunt double, my hair and makeup person and my driver, you know – the people that were just like constantly around me when I was really pushing my body to an intense degree.

“I always thought that I’d be afraid to be alone. And then once you get through it and you pushed to the other side of it, I was like ‘Oh, I kind of like the alone time. I don’t mind being a lone wolf in this.’

“So yeah, it was interesting to learn that about myself.”

As for the Stowaway To Nowhere action sequence that took close to nine months shoot, and at three different locations, Taylor-Joy says she feels an immense amount of pride at accomplishing the complicated and pivotal sequence, which she terms as “epic”.

“When you complete things that you think are never going to end because there’s that bit, you know, halfway through the tunnel where you never think that the tunnel is going to end, and then you finally get to the end of it, you’re like ‘wow, we did it’.”

Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga opens at cinemas nationwide on May 23.

Follow us on our official WhatsApp channel for breaking news alerts and key updates!

Next In Entertainment

Sandra Bullock, Nicole Kidman locked in for ‘Practical Magic’ sequel
Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck paid no attention to one another at his son's graduation
Fan Bingbing debuts as Melaka tourism ambassador
What does Donald Trump think of Taylor Swift? 'She probably doesn’t like (me)'
Jennifer Aniston launches children's book series with 'best friend' Clyde the dog
Rihanna addresses speculation she’s retired from music
Singer sues hospital, says staff thought he was mentally ill and wasn’t member of Four Tops
Bella Astillah's message to Ruhainies after divorce with Aliff Aziz: 'Congratulations to my ex-friend for successfully ruining my marriage'
HK actor Louis Koo sued over alleged failure to repay RM5mil loan
Aliff Aziz divorces Bella Astillah, gives full custody of children to Bella

Others Also Read