At first glance, George Miller’s upcoming film Mad Max: Fury Road seems to share a few standard themes with its three Max franchise predecessors, and while the thriller is sure to be (and looks) action-packed, an Esquire interview with female co-star Rosie Huntington-Whiteley reveals the introduction of a new element: feminism.
According to Huntington-Whiteley, who is playing one of several female characters to be rescued by legendary rogue enforcer Max Rockatansky, Fury Road will be less of a story about damsels in distress, and more about the empowerment of female survivors, thanks to Vagina Monologues author and feminine activist Eve Ensler.
Vanity Fair reports Austrailian-born Miller, who is now 70, sought out Ensler for that very purpose, and speculates it is possible Miller “recognized the limitations a male director and three male writers faced in trying to cover every nuance of a story about female exploitation and survival.”
Huntington-Whiteley spoke to Esquire of Ensler’s impact on her character, and her excitement to work with the notorious figure:
We were so lucky that George arranged for Eve Ensler, who wrote the Vagina Monologues, to fly in and work with us girls for about a week. We did extensive research with her. Eve herself has had a very intense life. She’s spent time in the Congo working with rape victims and women who have had unthinkable things happen to them through the power of men’s hands. We were able to pick her brain for a week. She told us the most tragic stories I’ve ever heard in my life, which gave us so much background to our characters. We really wanted to kind of showcase that. It was a privilege to have her around to make these characters something more then just five beautiful girls.
The actress told the publication of her excitement to play Splendid, and described the character as “conflicted.”
“She’s pregnant through rape and she has been held captive her whole life. It was so interesting to think: how would she feel about carrying this child? Does she have these natural maternal instincts that a lot of mother’s feel? Is she enjoying being pregnant?” she said.
She also asked: “Is she having that time of pure love or is she angry? Does she have any regard for this child? What does she feel about that? I think that I never really knew what she was going to feel because I don’t think even she would know. I think it was all very confusing for her. She was conflicted. That’s why a lot of her actions in this film are reckless.”
Charlize Theron, Zoë Kravitz, Riley Keough, Abbey Lee, and Courtney Eaton play other Fury Road female characters, while Tom Hardy replaces Mel Gibson as Max Rockatansky.
Among other narcissistic statements made by Ensler in the vagina obsessed, anti-heterosexual feminist episodic play, in 1996, she wrote in The Vagina Monologues: “The heart is capable of sacrifice. So is the vagina. The heart is able to forgive and repair. It can change its shape to let us in. It can expand to let us out. So can the vagina. It can ache for us and stretch for us, die for us and bleed and bleed us into this difficult, wondrous world. So can the vagina.”
While Mad Max: Fury Road will likely not feature any bleeding vaginas, Ensler’s assistance with feminine character development will take the franchise in a new direction.
Fury Road will make its U.S. debut May 15.
Check out the trailer below: