In the 1970s the Australian film market was not as prolific as it is today. A lot of the country’s film success is due to Miller’s efforts to create the wildly enthralling and exciting Mad Max. The ’79 movie was made on a shoestring budget of $350,000 and was full of brand new actors – including Gibson.
But Gibson did not even intend to audition for the upcoming movie. Instead, the casting crew forced him to stick around and get his photo taken.
Gibson recalled the story in the special features of the Mad Max Collector’s Edition Blu-ray. He told fans: “I dropped a friend off because he’d been called into an audition. I drove him, dropped him, and waited for him in the waiting room with the girls at the casting agency – but I had had a very bad weekend.”
The young actor, who was just 23-years-old at the time, was apparently as boisterous as ever. The American-Australian star revealed he “got into a brawl” the next before. And it didn’t go well for him.
Gibson explained: “I didn’t come out looking too pretty. I took on half a rugby team and it just… it didn’t work out too well on my end. So I was looking pretty bad.” But this eccentric look was just what Mad Max bosses were looking for. He added: “They took polaroids because I was – really – every colour of the rainbow, and they put them up, and they said: ‘Man, we need freaks in this film! When you heal up come and see us.'”
Gibson did as he was told, and it went extremely well for him.
Gibson remembered: “They talked to George Miller and he just kind of gave me the part right there – it was real weird! And he said: ‘Can you memorise this?'”
The actor was handed a two-page document filled with dialogue, including a big emotional speech. With a smirk, Gibson replied: “Yeah, sure!” He continued: “I went out of the room and just kind of got the gist of what it was and I came out and, kind of, ad-libbed what I could remember. And I guess they bought it.”
This wasn’t the only radical event that took place during the filming of Mad Max.
Miller could not afford to hire enough real actors, so he brought on members of an actual biker gang to fill out some of the iconic chase scenes through the Australian deserts. Some of these bikers could not even be paid, so Miller would instead reportedly pay them with beer.
Ultimately, Mad Max earned a staggering $100 million at the box office. Gibson was reportedly paid just $10,000 for his role.