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Hugh Keays-Byrne Dies, Mad Max Villain Was 73

Posted 2020/12/03 9 0

Hugh Keays-Byrne has passed away. He was 73-years old. The English-Australian actor played Toecutter in the 1979’s Mad Max, then reunited with George Miller for 2015’s Mad Max: Fury Road, where he played the villainous “Immortan Joe.” The Man From Hong Kong director Brian Trenchard-Smith revealed that the Keays-Byrne died Wednesday in the hospital. No other information has been given as to the cause of death. Keays-Byrne is one of three actors to play two separate and characters in the Mad Max franchise, the others being Bruce Spence (Gyro Captain in Mad Max 2 and Jedediah in Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome) and Max Fairchild (Benno in Mad Max and Broken Victim in Mad Max 2).

In addition to his work with George Miller, Hugh Keays-Byrne also was known for portraying the back-stabbing Grunchlk on the series Farscape and the following miniseries. He was also an accomplished stage actor. Between 1968 and 1972, the actor had parts in Royal Shakespeare Company productions including As You Like It, The Balcony, Doctor Faustus, Hamlet, King Lear, The Man of Mode, Much Ado About Nothing, The Tempest or The Enchanted Island, and Troilus and Cressida.

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Hugh Keays-Byrne was born in Srinagar, in the state of Jammu and Kashmir to British parents. The actor’s family moved to England when he was a young child, which is where he got into acting. His first television role was on the British series Boy Meets Girl in 1967. From there, the actor went to Australia with the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1973 with Peter Brook’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. He Keays-Byrne decided to stay in Australia after the tour came to an end. His first starring role on the big screen came up in 1974 with the movie Stone.

After Stone, Hugh Keays-Byrne went on to star in Mad Dog Morgan (1976), The Trespassers (1976), and Snapshot (1979). With all of those roles behind him, he started a partnership with George Miller for Mad Max, where he played the violent gang leader Toecutter. From there, he reunited with the director for Mad Max: Fury Road, as the main antagonist Immortan Joe. The Mad Max franchise gave Keays-Byrne popularity outside of Australia and kicked off a new era of his career.

After Mad Max, Hugh Keays-Byrne starred in The Chain Reaction (1980), Strikebound (1984), Starship (1985) and The Blood of Heroes (1989). In 1992, he stepped behind the camera for Resistance, which he also starred in. He went on to star in a number of TV shows in the 1990s and 2000s. When asked why he brought Keays-Byrne back for Mad Max: Fury Road, George Miller said that it had to do with the bad American dub of his voice that was featured in an early print of Mad Max. “I always felt so guilty about that. I thought I had to make up for it in some way.” The actor was also going to portray Martian Manhunter in Miller’s 2009 take on Justice League, but the project never got off the ground. The Hollywood Reporter was one of the first outlets to announce that Hugh Keays-Byrne passed away.

Kevin Burwick at Movieweb

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