Veteran actor Hugh Keays-Byrne, who played villain Immortal Joe in George Miller’s cult hit “Mad Max: Fury Road” has died at the age of 73.
A representative for the actor told Deadline that the actor died peacefully on Tuesday morning. Filmmaker Brian Trenchard-Smith, who worked with Keays-Byrne for 1975 film “The Man from Hong Kong”, was the first to break the news of the actor’s demise in a Facebook post on Wednesday.
Trenchard-Smith wrote “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.”
Born in 1947 in Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir to British parents, the actor was very young when his family moved to Britain.
Keays-Byrne later moved to Australia where he featured in many Royal Shakespeare Company Productions, including “As You Like It”, “The Balcony”, “Hamlet”, “King Lear”, “The Man of Mode” and “Much Ado About Nothing”.
He started his acting career when he was cast in TV series “Bellbird”, created by Barbara Vernon. The actor appeared in a number of series and films, including as Morrie Grosse in Trenchard-Smith’s 1975 action flick “the Dragon Flies.”
Keays-Byrne’s big moment came when he was roped in to play Toecutter in Miller’s 1979 movie “Mad Max”, which featured Mel Gibson in the lead.
More than thirty years later, Miller requested Keays-Byrne return for his another plunge in to the world of “Mad Max” with 2015’s “Fury Road”, starring Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron.
In the movie, Keays-Byrne played the villainous Immortan Joe, the head of a cult reigning the Wastelands. Throughout the film, Joe and his biker gang terrorised Theron’s Furiosa and Hardy’s Max Rockantansky as they seek to liberate the world.
Taking to Twitter, Theron posted a heartfelt tribute for the actor, calling him a “kind, beautiful soul.”
Theron wrote alongside a picture from the sets of “Fury Road”, “RIP Hugh Keays-Byrne. It’s amazing you were able to play an evil warlord so well cause you were such a kind, beautiful soul. You will be deeply missed my friend.”