Hugh Keays-Byrne, Mad Max's Immortan Joe Dies

The actor who helped make Mad Max possible also had his final role with the franchise.


Actor Hugh Keays-Byrne, known for his starring roles in both Mad Max and Mad Max: Fury Road, has died at the age of 73. The cause of death for the Australian actor has not yet been disclosed. Filmmaker Ted Geoghegan shared the news via social media, calling Byrne "an unsung hero of Aussie cinema… [and] an absolutely wonderful human who fought very hard for environmental and humanitarian issues." Filmmaker Brian Trenchard-Smith, a friend of Keays-Byrne's, reported on Facebook that the actor died in the hospital.

In addition to actor Mel Gibson and writer-director George Miller, Keays-Byrne shares the distinction of being synonymous with the long-running and still-enduring Mad Max franchise. In the original 1979 version, Keays-Byrne plays the merciless terrorist Toecutter who ruled the outback with his motorcycle gang; in 2015's Mad Max: Fury Road, he again played a villain--Immortan Joe.

In the many years between, Keays-Byrne made a name for himself as a versatile actor outside that cinematic universe, starring in films such as 2000's Farscape, 1989's The Blood of Heroes, and 1974's Stone. Mad Max: Fury Road stands as the actor's final role.

Meanwhile, the Mad Max series continues to have a long life of its own. Recently, casting has reportedly started on the long-gestating Mad Max: Fury Road prequel, which is slated to star Anya Taylor-Joy (The New Mutants, Glass), who steered Netflix's The Queen's Gambit to break some impressive streaming records. Hopefully, the upcoming prequel will also include a tribute to the actor who helped make the franchise possible in the first place.

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