The 73-year-old comedian played the characters of Toecutter in 1979 and Immortan Joe in 2015 in the George Miller franchise.
Dead silence rages on the deserted roads of Mad Max. Hugh Keays-Byrne, iconic villain of George Miller’s film franchise, died on December 1 at age 73. The actor left his mark on the post-apocalyptic genre in cinema. In 1979, he played Toecutter, the leader of a biker gang who wanted Mel Gibson’s skin, in the original film. 36 years later, he returns as villainous Immortan Joe in Mad Max: Fury Road.
Born in India in Srinagar, Hugh Keays-Byrne moved to England to study theater by participating in productions of the Royal Shakespeare Company. During a tour in Australia with the company for an adaptation of the work A Midsummer Night’s dream, he falls in love with the country. The actor then decides to stay there in order to pursue his acting career. A crucial decision that allowed him to meet Australian director George Miller.
In a Facebook post, Brian Trenchard-Smith announced the death of the actor with whom he had worked in 1975 on the film Hong Kong man. “Hugh Keays-Byrne was a good actor and a good friend. He had a generous heart, offering a helping hand to those in need, or a place to stay for a homeless teenager, says the director. He cared about social justice and the preservation of the environment long before these questions became fashionable. His life was governed by his sense of the oneness of humanity. His example and his friendship will be missed.“
The actress Charlize Theron also paid a tribute to the actor whom she could meet on the set of Mad Max: Fury Road. “It’s amazing that you could have played an evil warlord so well when you had such a beautiful and kind soul. We will miss you very much my friend.“
Hugh Keays-Byrne has distinguished himself in other, less popular film works, such as Snapshot, The land where green ants dream, For Love Alone, Blood of heroes or Resistance. On television, he appeared in several series and TV movies, such as Farscape, Moby dick and Journey to the Center of the Earth.