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“Mad Max: Fury Road” Villain Hugh Keays-Byrne Dies At 73

By Michael Bamidele
02 December 2020   |   9:24 pm
Hugh Keays-Byrne, who played the main antagonist "Immortan Joe" in the 2015 film Mad Max: Fury Road, has died. He was 73. Keays-Byrne's death was announced by Brian Trenchard-Smith, who directed Keays-Byrne in the 1975 film "The Man From Hong Kong" (also known as The Dragon Flies). Trenchard-Smith said the actor died on Tuesday in…
Hugh Keays-Byrne

Hugh Keays-Byrne seen at the Warner Bros. premiere of “Mad Max: Fury Road” on Thursday, May 7, 2015, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Eric Charbonneau/Invision for Warner Bros./AP Images)

Hugh Keays-Byrne, who played the main antagonist “Immortan Joe” in the 2015 film Mad Max: Fury Road, has died. He was 73.

Keays-Byrne’s death was announced by Brian Trenchard-Smith, who directed Keays-Byrne in the 1975 film “The Man From Hong Kong” (also known as The Dragon Flies). Trenchard-Smith said the actor died on Tuesday in hospital: “I am sad to report that our friend Hugh Keays-Byrne passed away in hospital yesterday.”

“Hugh had a generous heart, offering a helping hand to people in need, or a place to stay to a homeless teenager. He cared about social justice and preserving the environment long before these issues became fashionable. His life was governed by his sense of the oneness of humanity. We will miss his example and his friendship,” Trenchard-Smith added.

Keays-Byrne was born in India to British parents. He was schooled in England and began his career as a stage actor. As a theatre-trained actor, he 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.

Hugh Keays-Byrne

Hugh Keays-Byrne in “Mad Max: Fury Road”

His first television acting job was in Britain in the programme Boy Meets Girl in 1967. He went to Australia with the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1973 with Peter Brook’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and remained in Australia when the tour ended. In 1974, he acted in the TV show Essington, which was followed by big screen roles in films such as Stone (1974), Mad Dog Morgan (1976), The Trespassers (1976) and Snapshot (1979).

After acting in the TV drama The Death Train in 1978, Keays-Byrne garnered the role that he was best known for outside Australia: the violent gang leader “Toecutter” in the apocalyptic science fiction film Mad Max (1979).

Keays-Byrne returned to the Mad Max franchise in the 2015 film Mad Max: Fury Road, as the main villain Immortan Joe. The film was nominated for 10 Academy Awards, including Best Picture, winning 6, and Keays-Byrne was nominated for the MTV Movie Award for Best Villain.