In 1979, George Miller released a low-budget film in Australia called Mad Max that set profitability records and began a worldwide franchise of four movies (and one on the way). If you know anything about the first Mad Max movie, it’s probably that young Mel Gibson’s voice had to be dubbed for American audiences because of his thick Australian accent, even though he’s an American. That’s only partly true: all the actors were dubbed for the American release, and it had more to do with the Aussie slang than the accents. But I bet you didn’t know that director George Miller was a medical doctor.
1. DIRECTOR GEORGE MILLER WORKED AS A DOCTOR TO RAISE MONEY FOR MAD MAX.
Since the film only had a budget of $350,000, Miller scraped together extra money as an emergency room doctor to keep the movie going. “It was very low budget and we ran out of money for editing and post-production, so I spent a year editing the film by myself in our kitchen, while Byron Kennedy did the sound,” Miller told CraveOnline. “And then working as an emergency doctor on the weekends to earn money to keep going. I’d got my best friend, and friends of friends of friends of his, and Byron ditto, and I thought, ‘Oh my God, we made a film and it won’t cut together and we’re going to lose all their money.’”
Miller’s medical training is all over the film: Max Rockatansky is named after physician Carl von Rokitansky, a pathologist who created the Rokitansky procedure, a method for removing organs in an autopsy.
4. REAL-LIFE MOTORCYCLE CLUB THE VIGILANTIES PLAYED TOECUTTER’S GANG FOR MAD MAX.
Forget the money required to train stuntmen; Miller and crew hired real bikers to professionally ride into production. In an interview with Motorcyclist Online, actor Tim Burns said about working with them: “[The Vigilanties] all wanted to ride the bikes as fast as possible, as often as possible, by their nature. Their riding was individually and collectively superb.” Additionally, stuntman Dale Bensch, a member of The Vigilanties, recalled seeing the ad for the shoot at a local bike shop, and took a moment to clarify a mishap that had happened during production. Bensch said, “There’s an urban myth that a stuntman was killed, and that was me. The scariest thing was dropping the bike on that bridge. They took the speedo and tach off because they didn’t want to damage more than they had to. They wet the surface to make it easier, but I hung onto the bike too long and it flipped me over with it; that’s why it looked bad. But it’s a famous scene, so it worked out all right!”
But this trivia list isn’t just about the first Mad Max movie -it’s about all of them! Find more fascinating stories from behind the scenes at mental_floss.