“Mad Max: Fury Road” is pure heaven for film buffs, who regard the blockbuster as one of the finest in movie history, but it sounds like it was a hellish experience for just about everyone involved.
Rumors of on-set tensions between leads Charlize Theron and Tom Hardy have persisted since the post-apocalyptic action epic hit theaters in 2015, but now we know just how challenging it was to bring director George Miller’s vision to the big screen.
In a New York Times oral history of “Mad Max: Fury Road” published on Tuesday, the cast and crew spilled some behind-the-scenes details about the film’s yearslong journey to fruition, the grueling shooting schedule and what really went down between Theron and Hardy.
“I feel a mixture of extreme joy that we achieved what we did, and I also get a little bit of a hole in my stomach,” the “Bombshell” star told the outlet. “There’s a level of ‘the body remembers’ trauma related to the shooting of this film that’s still there for me.”
Theron took some responsibility for the souring of her working relationship with Hardy, explaining that “the biggest thing that was driving that entire production was fear.”
“In retrospect, I didn’t have enough empathy to really, truly understand what he must have felt like to step into Mel Gibson’s shoes,” Theron said, as Hardy was taking over the titular role made famous by the actor. “That is frightening! And I think because of my own fear, we were putting up walls to protect ourselves instead of saying to each other, ‘This is scary for you, and it’s scary for me, too. Let’s be nice to each other.’ In a weird way, we were functioning like our characters: Everything was about survival.”
Hardy, who revealed the film “left me irrevocably changed,” said he also shared the blame and has developed some empathy for Theron since the shoot.
“I was in over my head in many ways,” he said. “The pressure on both of us was overwhelming at times. What she needed was a better, perhaps more experienced, partner in me. That’s something that can’t be faked. I’d like to think that now that I’m older and uglier, I could rise to that occasion.”
Despite their best intentions, the actors’ feud trickled down to their co-stars, who remarked on the pair’s at-times-difficult behavior on set.
Rosie Huntington-Whiteley admitted “there was a lot of tension” between Theron and Hardy, “who have completely different approaches to their craft.”
Zoë Kravitz also noted that while both actors had “moments of frustration,” Hardy “took it out on [director George Miller] the most.”
And while all involved seem overwhelmingly pleased with the final product, Miller concedes that he should’ve paid more attention to “the actual working process of the actors.”
Theron has mentioned her relationship with Hardy throughout the years, previously revealing that the actor called her an “absolute nightmare” in a note he left her after filming finished.
She also told The Wall Street Journal: “Maybe the movie is what it is because we struggled so much with each other, and those characters had to struggle so much with each other. If we were chum-chum, maybe the movie would have been 10 times worse.”
This article originally appeared on HuffPost.