By MICHAEL GINGOLD
The Anglo-Australian actor energized the first and most recent entries in the George Miller action franchise.
Veteran Aussie director Brian Trenchard-Smith reported on his Facebook page that Keays-Byrne died yesterday in a hospital at age 73. He got his start as a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company in Britain, and when the troupe traveled to Australia for a production of A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM, he stayed and began working regularly in both films and television. His credits include such cult favorites as STONE (1974), Trenchard-Smith’s THE MAN FROM HONG KONG (1975) and SNAPSHOT (a.k.a. THE DAY AFTER HALLOWEEN, 1979), and the made-for-TV supernatural drama THE DEATH TRAIN (1978), and he drove into the genre pantheon when director Miller tapped him to play the vicious Toecutter, who leads the gang that sends Mel Gibson’s title character on his vengeance quest in the hit original MAD MAX (1979). He appeared in numerous other films in the ensuing years, before Miller brought him back to essay another memorable villain, Immortan Joe, in 2015’s MAD MAX: FURY ROAD, which brought Keays-Byrne an MTV Movie Award nomination for Best Villain. He made an indelible mark on action-fantasy cinema, and will be deeply missed.