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Hugh Keays-Byrne
Born (1947-05-18)18 May 1947
Died 1 December 2020(2020-12-01) (aged 73)
Nationality English, Australian
Occupation Actor, film director
Years active 1973–2015
Notable work
Toecutter in Mad Max
Immortan Joe in Mad Max: Fury Road
Toad in Stone

Hugh Keays-Byrne (18 May 1947 – 1 December 2020) was an English-Australian actor and film director. He moved to Australia in 1973 and worked there as a television and film actor. He appeared as Toad in the 1974 film Stone, the main antagonist Toecutter in the 1979 film Mad Max, the main antagonist "Immortan Joe" in the 2015 film Mad Max: Fury Road, and Grunchlk on the science fiction television series Farscape.

Early life

Keays-Byrne was born in Srinagar, in the state of Jammu and Kashmir (part of the British Raj then, India now) to British parents; his family moved to Britain when he was a young child. He was schooled in England and began his career as a stage actor. Between 1968 and 1972, he had parts in Royal Shakespeare Company productions including As You Like It, The Balcony, King Lear, Hamlet, Much Ado About Nothing, The Tempest or The Enchanted Island, Doctor Faustus, The Man of Mode, and Troilus and Cressida.

Career on screen

His first television acting job was in Britain in the programme Boy Meets Girl in 1967. He went to Australia with the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1973 with Peter Brook's production of A Midsummer Night's Dream, and remained in Australia when the tour ended. In 1974, he acted in the TV show Essington, which was followed by big screen roles in films such as Stone (1974), Mad Dog Morgan (1976), The Trespassers (1976) and Snapshot (1979). After acting in the TV drama The Death Train in 1978, Keays-Byrne garnered the role that he was best known for outside Australia: the violent gang leader "Toecutter" in the apocalyptic science fiction film Mad Max (1979).

In the 1980s, he acted in films such as The Chain Reaction (1980), Strikebound (1984), Starship (1985) and The Blood of Heroes (1989). In 1992, he directed and acted in the film Resistance. In the mid- to late 1990s, he did a number of TV roles including in Singapore Sling: Old Flames (1995), Moby Dick (1998) and Journey to the Centre of the Earth (1999).

In the 2000s, he appeared in the science fiction television series Farscape as Grunchlk, which he reprised for the concluding mini-series Farscape: The Peacekeeper Wars. In 2007, George Miller cast him in an unspecified role in Justice League: Mortal, rumoured to be Martian Manhunter. However, the film was later cancelled.

Keays-Byrne returned to the Mad Max franchise in the 2015 film Mad Max: Fury Road, as the main villain Immortan Joe. The film was nominated for 10 Academy Awards, including Best Picture, winning 6, and Keays-Byrne was nominated for the MTV Movie Award for Best Villain.

Personal life and death

Keays-Byrne died on 1 December 2020, at the age of 73. He was survived by his partner Christina.

Filmography

Sources:

Films

  • Stone (1974) - Toad
  • The Man from Hong Kong (1975) - Morrie Grosse
  • Mad Dog Morgan (1976) - Simon
  • The Trespassers (1976) - Frank
  • Blue Fin (1978) - Stan
  • Mad Max (1979) - Toecutter
  • Snapshot (1979) - Linsey
  • The Chain Reaction (1980) - Eagle
  • Ginger Meggs (1982) - Captain Hook
  • Going Down (1983) - Bottom, the biker
  • Where the Green Ants Dream (1984) - Mining executive
  • Strikebound (1984) - Idris Williams
  • Lorca and the Outlaws (1984) - Danny
  • Burke & Wills (1985) - Ambrose Kyte
  • For Love Alone (1986) - Andrew
  • Kangaroo (1987) - Kangaroo
  • Les Patterson Saves the World (1987) - Inspector Farouk
  • The Blood of Heroes (1989) - Lord Vlle
  • Resistance (1992) - Peter
  • Huntsman 5.1 (1999) - Bain
  • Sleeping Beauty (2011) - Man 3
  • Mad Max: Fury Road (2015) - Immortan Joe (Final film role)

Television

  • Bellbird (1967)
  • Boy Meets Girl (1967) - Leslie
  • Essington (1974, TV Movie)
  • The Outsiders (1976) - Doyle
  • Say You Want Me (1977, TV Movie) - Harry Kirby
  • Death Train (1978, TV Movie) - Ted Morrow
  • The Tichborne Affair (1978, TV Movie) - Tichbourne
  • Barnaby and Me (1978, TV Movie) - Huggins
  • Secret Valley (1980, TV Movie) - William Whopper
  • Runaway Island (1982, TV Movie) - Lucas the Ratter
  • Treasure Island (1987, TV Movie) (voice)
  • Badlands 2005 (1988, TV Movie) - Moondance
  • Dadah Is Death (1988, TV Movie) - Hammed
  • Joe Wilson (1988, TV Mini-Series) - Bob Galletley
  • Singapore Sling: Old Flames (1995, TV Movie)
  • Moby Dick (1998, TV Mini-Series) - Mr. Stubb
  • Journey to the Center of the Earth (1999, TV Mini-Series) - McNiff
  • Farscape (2001) - Grunchlk
  • Farscape: The Peacekeeper Wars (2004) - Grunchlk

Accolades

Year Award Category Subject Result Ref.
1977 Logie Award Best Actor Rush Won
1979 Australian Film Institute Award Best Supporting Actor Mad Max Nominated
2011 Alliance of Women Film Journalists EDA Special Mention Award – Most Egregious Age Difference
Between the Leading Man and the Love Interest
Sleeping Beauty Nominated
2016 AFCA Award Best Supporting Actor Mad Max: Fury Road Nominated
Gold Derby Award Best Ensemble Cast Nominated
MTV Movie Award Best Villain Nominated
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