Larger than life Hugh Keays-Byrne has passed away at 73. Part of The Royal Shakespeare Company, Hugh was a heck of a classically charged presence in the roles he would take on. He used that huge persona to breath life into Toecutter in George Miller’s Mad Max and as Immortan Joe in Miller’s Fury Road.
Iconic director Brian Trenchard-Smith (Dead In Drive-In, Turkey Shoot) had this to say on the huge presence passing.
“I am sad to report that our friend Hugh Keays-Byrne passed away in hospital yesterday. A former Royal Shakespeare Company actor who settled in Australia co-starred in my Man From Hong Kong, and achieved world wide recognition as the Toecutter in Mad Max, and Immortan Joe in Mad Max-Fury Road. This photo reflects the innate sense of humor he brought not only to my film but every production he worked on. He was a fine actor and a good friend to Margaret and myself for 46 years. We spent many happy Sunday mornings with him, his partner Christina, and a group of fellow actors and artists (the Macao Light Company) at the house they shared in Centennial Park. Christina, Jack, Shawn, Tim , Ralph, Robina, our hearts go out to you. 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. Vale, Hugh.”
Hugh will be missed and leaves behind a large body of work to explore. And of course we will always have the unforgettable performances in the Mad Max films.