Hugh Keays-Byrne, Immortan Joe from Mad Max: Fury Road, dies at 73

Hugh Keays-Byrne, who played the villain Toecutter in Mad Max and returned as Immortan Joe in Mad Max: Fury Road, has passed away at the age of 73.

Hugh Keays-Byrne, who played the villain Toecutter in Mad Max and returned as Immortan Joe in Mad Max: Fury Road, passed away at 73. Born on May 18, 1947, in Srinigar in Kashmir, two years before the formation of Indian of British parents, Keays-Byrne grew up in England. He began acting in the 1960s, appearing in various productions for the Royal Shakespeare Company. While appearing in A Midsummer Night’s Dream in Australia for the company, he decided to stay in the country, a decision that led directly to his film career. His film debut was in 1974 Roca, where he played Toad, a member of an outlaw motorcycle gang.

The following year he starred in The Man from Hong Kong, a James Bond parody starring former Bond George Lazenby. He appeared in several other so-called “Ozploitation” films throughout the 1970s, culminating in his breakout role as George Miller’s deranged villain, Toecutter. Mad Max. Keays-Byrne ate the screen in front of the film’s protagonist, Mel Gibson, and returned to the franchise for Mad Max: Fury Road. He once again played the villain, Immortan Joe, taking a terrifying turn as the huge masked and breathing monster chased after his stolen wives. In between, Keays-Byrne starred in many Australian movies and TV series and appeared on the 2000s cult sci-fi show Farscape as Grunchlk.

Today filmmaker Ted Geoghegan revealed via Twitter that Keays-Byrne had passed away on Tuesday, at the age of 73. Geoghegan paid tribute to the actor’s performances in the Mad Max franchise, adding that he was a committed and caring environmentalist. The news was also confirmed on Facebook by Brian Trenchard-Smith, the British director who cast Keays-Byrne in The Man from Hong Kong. Trenchard-Smith paid tribute to Keays-Byrne’s sense of humor and also mentioned his social conscience. You can check out his full tributes below:

While he had a broad and varied career, there is no question that Keays-Byrne will be remembered for his dual role in the Mad Max franchise. The fact that he could return to star in Mad Max: Fury Road 35 years after his first appearance on the series is a testament to his fierce longevity as an actor. Playing very different roles, Keays-Byrne managed to make Toecutter and Immortan Joe terrifying in their own way. There is no doubt that their performances played a significant role in the enduring popularity of both films.

Miller enjoyed working with the actor, having cast him in his abandoned Justice League: Deadly movie, reportedly as Martian Manhunter. While he was unable to make his mark on the DC Universe, Keays-Byrne still managed to play a role in film history, creating two of the most memorable villains ever to commit to film. We will miss him very much.