Hugh Keays-Byrne, Mad Max actor who starred as Immortan Joe, dies at 73

December 2, 2020
Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Hugh Keays-Byrne, the actor who memorably portrayed villains in the Mad Max movies, has died at 73.

Keays-Byrne's death was announced on Wednesday by filmmaker Brian Trenchard-Smith, who directed the actor in The Man From Hong Kong. Keays-Byrne's representative confirmed the news to Variety.


"Hugh had a generous heart, offering a helping hand to people in need, or a place to stay to a homeless teenager," Trenchard-Smith said on Facebook. "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."

In 1979's Mad Max, Keays-Byrne played the villainous Toecutter, and in 2015, he returned to the series to play the villain Immortan Joe in Mad Max: Fury Road. He studied theater and toured with the Royal Shakespeare Company, Variety notes, and one of his other well-known roles was Grunchlk on Farscape.

Director Edgar Wright was among those who paid tribute to Keays-Byrne on Wednesday, tweeting, "It's a sad day to have to say goodbye to The Toecutter and Immortan Joe." Director Ted Geoghegan also remembered Keays-Byrne as an "unsung hero of Aussie cinema," adding, "You will ride eternal, shiny and chrome." Brendan Morrow

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