The Road Warriors Stunts Made Some Broken Bones ‘Unavoidable’

Ironically, Vernon Wells only turned to acting due to a car crash of his own. He was making a living as a singer and songwriter when a road accident left him with fractured vertebrae. When he recovered enough to walk, he picked up work as a model and a movie extra instead. This led to him playing a biker in a stage play called “Hosana” which, in turn, got him noticed by George Miller’s fiancée. His next stop was the Outback to play Wez in “The Road Warrior,” and Wells recalls that Miller took the safety of his cast and crew very seriously:

“You could not fart unless you asked permission. You didn’t play, you did your job. And that was the whole thing when we started that film: George said, ‘This movie is safety conscious, and if you don’t want it, leave now.’ And he was serious. Because you’ve got to think about it, with all those vehicles driving around there, one misstep and someone’s getting run over by a 16-wheel truck — and I was on the front of it, jumping up and jumping off, just holding on.”

If the first movie resembled the classic stripped-back car-chase thrillers of the ’70s like “Vanishing Point” or “The Driver,” “The Road Warrior” was a far more elaborate affair. This time, there was far more emphasis on wild configurations of modded and souped-up vehicles pursuing our hero, culminating in a bravura highway chase sequence as Max and his few motley cohorts defend a fast-moving gas truck from The Humungus and his gang. 

Despite Miller’s precautions, performing high-velocity stunts in a pre-CGI age with real vehicles and real stunt actors was still very hazardous. With typical Aussie matter-of-factness, Wells acknowledged a few broken bones were “unavoidable.”

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