Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome director George Miller recalls working with the late musical legend Tina Turner. The story of rock icon Turner has been told through fictional films (What’s Love Got To Do With It) and documentaries (Tina), but Turner herself crossed over into film as well, appearing in the movie adaptation of the rock opera Tommy and the ill-fated 1978 Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band movie. Turner’s biggest and best-remembered film appearance however came in 1985 when she starred as post-apocalyptic warrior-queen Aunty Entity in the action-packed sequel Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome.
Turner’s memorable appearance in the Mad Max series naturally came to many people’s minds upon news of the legend’s passing at the age of 84, and was certainly on the mind of the series’ creator Miller, who took to The Guardian to offer his recollections of casting Turner and working with her on the film. Saying Turner was “the only person we could think of” to embody the force-of-nature that is Aunty Entity, Miller recounts the experience of being with the icon on-set:
She was the opposite of a diva. I had the privilege of working with her and getting to see just what made her so magnificent. She was so sharp, mentally. She was acutely aware of the dynamics of every situation. She was very funny and playful, she loved to laugh a lot. She was a person of real substance. It wasn’t just the surface. I think that rises out of someone who endures so much in early life and uses it to become incredibly wise.
Aunty Entity Was The Mad Max Series’ First Strong Female Character
The original Mad Max and its sequel The Road Warrior of course focused on Mel Gibson’s titular Max and his battles with the deranged denizens of the world after the collapse of society, and so had very little room to develop female characters. Max’s wife in the original movie is mostly a damsel in distress, and women play only a secondary role in The Road Warrior, though the character of “Warrior Woman” (Virginia Hey) does at least make an impression (even though she doesn’t warrant an actual character name).
The first time the Mad Max series bothered to introduce an interesting and complex female character was in Thunderdome, when Turner’s Aunty Entity burst upon the scene. The leader of the hardscrabble post-apocalyptic settlement Bartertown, Aunty Entity is every bit Max’s physical and intellectual equal, and indeed surpasses him in her willingness to take on the responsibilities of leadership in a world that sorely needs leaders (but doesn’t need another hero).
Miller perhaps learned a lesson from seeing what Turner brought to the mix in Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome, because years later when he revisited the Mad Max series with Fury Road, he made Charlize Theron’s Furiosa the co-lead alongside Tom Hardy’s Max. When the Mad Max series again returns, Furiosa will be the main focus of the story, with Anya Taylor-Joy taking over for Theron. Years before Theron and Taylor-Joy took the reins as strong female characters within the Mad Max universe, Turner paved the way with her performance as the powerhouse Aunty Entity.
Source: The Guardian