The Inverse Interview

Witness The Octoboss

Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga’s scene-stealing warlord Goran D. Kleut tells Inverse all about making the movie and the unspoken secrets about his instantly iconic character.

Octoboss in Furiosa
Warner Bros.
The Inverse Interview

Outside the gates of Gastown, the fearsome Dementus turns to his horde of followers, singles one rider out among hundreds, and makes a fearsome demand to him. “I only answer to the Octoboss,” the man answers defiantly.

This small exchange reveals a surprising amount about the world the Wasteland — typical of the way that George Miller’s Mad Max saga tends to layer in detail so subtly you might not even notice it. Is Dementus (played with villainous glee by Chris Hemsworth) the formidable warlord we assumed? Or is there dissent among his ranks? Can he lead at all? And, perhaps most importantly, what’s the deal with the Octoboss?

Thankfully, we can answer at least one of those questions. After sending out a call across the Wasteland (an email to his manager), Inverse got in touch with the Octoboss himself (Australian actor Goran D. Kleut), who happily answered our probing queries about his character in Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga. From the unique audition process — “It’s the infamous ‘I’m as mad as hell’ scene from Network” — to the backstory the movie never reveals — “The Octoboss was an infant and soon an orphan when the world was destroyed” — Kleut offers a previously unseen look into the making of one of the best action movies in recent memory.

Check out the full interview, edited lightly for clarity. But beware, there are spoilers ahead for the ultimate fate of the Octoboss, true lord of the Wasteland.

Goran Kleut plays the mysterious Octoboss in Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga.

Don Arnold/WireImage/Getty Images

How did you first get the role? What was the audition process like?

I’ve been an avid fan of the Mad Max films since I can remember. So it had been a mission of mine to get any role in the saga for quite some time. For Furiosa, I auditioned about two years before we started filming and it was the same audition everyone had to do. It’s the same process Dr. George asks of all his prospective actors on all of his movies that I know of. It’s the infamous, “I’m as mad as hell” scene from Network. Along with an improvised scene detailing how I managed to survive in the days after the event that changed the world and a little funny story. Then came the interview process where George got to know your personality and would slowly find an appropriate role. Months later I found out I would be the “Octoboss.”

What do you think the Octoboss did that inspired such loyalty from his followers?

We went into a lot of backstory during weeks of rehearsals and preproduction. The depth of all the characters is quite immense. As Dementus’ Generals/Enforcers, we had our own rehearsal space where we would define each person’s usefulness to the horde and their place in the hierarchy. But it is all artistic backstory and not exactly canon.

That being said, we devised a few ideas with [Furiosa co-writer] Nico Lathouris to create reference. We decided that the Octoboss was the first of the Generals to join forces with Dementus and that he had an established a powerful biker gang under his command. The Octoboss was an infant and soon an orphan when the world was destroyed and had since spent his life evolving with the Wasteland, some of his men had been loyal to him since they were young, and he to them. They formed a Wild One-style biker gang to survive rapidly changing social structures, comprised of desperate youths that grew into an experienced marauding faction of raiders. Octoboss' strategic intelligence, code of conduct, and care for his comrades is what allowed him to rise to that of a respected leader.

“Octoboss is one of the few that can sleep knowing his men have got his back.”

Now, Octoboss provides sound tactical advice to Dementus (like Odysseus at the Battle of Troy) and helps keep order within the volatile chain of command. Everyone is always jostling for power within the horde. Octoboss is one of the few that can sleep knowing his men have got his back.

The Octoboss (left) stands with Dementus and his other trusted advisers.

Warner Bros.

What was Octoboss up to in the time after he split with Dementus and he and his gang went back to being rogue scavengers?

Well, the search for “a place of abundance” was like a mythical search for a Holy Grail that the horde envisioned would be the answer to all their needs. It was the unifying cause that keeps us directed at the same goal. When Furiosa turns up, she represents evidence that a place like that actually still exists and that we are close. It isn’t until that search unveils the citadel and its symbiotic relationship with the other settlements that the dream of abundance is traded for a more practical means of sustenance: taking over Gastown.

“The resource-rich oases may be filled with seats of power, but the roads between them are under the control of the Octoboss, and he exacts a hefty toll on all those who dare to pass within reach of his tentacles.”

Eventually, the changing circumstances and the horrible betrayal at the hands of Dementus, when he turned on the Octoboss’ men, those same men who allow Octoboss to maintain his position of status, force Octoboss to revalue the bonds he has established. I like to think the Octoboss renewed his search for the “place of abundance,” rediscovering flight to cover more ground and growing his faction of loyal followers. And doing what he does best: rule the wastleland, leading a gang of thugs. The resource-rich oases may be filled with seats of power, but the roads between them are under the control of the Octoboss, and he exacts a hefty toll on all those who dare to pass within reach of his tentacles.

Did the name "Octoboss" give you all you need for the characterization?

Yes and no. It certainly inspired a lot of ideas. When I heard he was going to be flying with the use of a giant octopus kite attached to a propelled Harley Davidson, it revealed a clearer direction. When the costume was finalized (the horns were the last finishing touch that had to be decided), then the feel of the character came more easily, his movements and poise. Each item that he wears has a story, each article useful for survival. One has to answer exactly how an individual like this came to be and how he has sustained himself so far.

“He led a group of men called the Mortifiers that eventually become the Motiflyers.”

I wrestled over a few reasons why he might be called the Octoboss. One of them involved taking out eight other warlords early in his pillaging days before he met with Dementus. Another involved becoming the boss of the eight points of the compass representing as far as they can travel in their known world. Or he just found an octopus kite one day, perhaps in the “buried airport” and said, “I’m having that, call me the Octoboss.” Maybe all of the above. Sometimes I like to keep parts of my backstory a deliberate mystery. It’s fun that way. It allows others to speculate and a cunning writer to reimagine it one day.

The Octoboss appears (somewhat) prominently in a poster for Furiosa.

Did George Miller tell you anything else about the character?

George and Nico had a skeletal template for him. They wrote that he was second in command to Dementus, that he led a group of men called the Mortifiers that eventually become the Motiflyers, and that he breaks away from the horde and attacks a war rig on a flying bike. But the rest was up to me. They wanted the characters to reflect the people we are. So the ideas and interpretations we all brought were highly encouraged and workshopped, so that we could embody the characters more freely.

Is there anything you know about Octoboss that nobody else knows?

There’s a lot of things. Here’s one: The Octoboss spends a lot of time listening to the History Man’s wordburgers, filled with tales of various flying machines and events just before his time. It is the source of the knowledge that inspires Octoboss to once again attempt to conquer the sky. I guess I’m not the only one who knows that now.

How did you film your death scene where you’re flying the kite? What sort of stunts were involved?

That was part of a 77-day filming action sequence, I’m led to believe. My parts were filmed over a few days, and it was done with wire-work. A special area was created where the Octo-bike could be suspended and a bunch of cameras could capture the Octoboss assaulting the war rig from all angles. Most of the war rig stuff was filmed out in the desert at Broken Hill. Then some of the final death shots were filmed together with the war rig and Anya on a sound stage at Disney Studios Sydney. I’m not sure how they pulled off the other 70-plus days but I think it came together nicely. The stunt team started before us and seemed to always be filming some element of it somewhere on location. It’s easily my favourite. Truly it was like going on an amusement ride at a carnival and completely letting the moment take you over. An exhilarating enjoyment that I would’ve paid a lot to experience. And for a second there, I was that kid again who pretended to be chasing down a war rig Mad Max-style. But this time I was doing it for real. Well kind of.

Witness the Octoboss (if you can find him on this poster).

Warner Bros.

What was the atmosphere like on set? What were you doing in between takes?

The atmosphere on set was very jovial. A lot of laughs. You really felt like you had joined the Mad Max family. Most cast and crew have done multiple films with George, some even from back to the first Mad Max movie. We spent most of our time joking around in the desert, talking about the Wasteland, and marveling at the vehicles, costumes, makeup and props. But when the time came to create movie magic, everyone was locked in. Everyone was whole-heartedly invested in their characters and we all wanted to make a piece of cinema history.

What was the most difficult part of making the movie for you?

Everything was difficult. That’s what made it fun. And in saying that, nothing was too difficult because you love it so much. The Octoboss’ bike could be difficult at times.

If George Miller makes another prequel with The Wasteland, would you want to return?

I would love to return. I’d paint myself white, shave my head, and jump off a moving vehicle, shiny and chrome with a pair of explosive spears if Dr. George wanted. But I’m very happy with my time as the Octoboss.

Are you surprised by either the very positive critical response to the film or the somewhat disappointing box office? Why?

I knew it was a great movie and those who have seen it seem to agree. As for the numbers. It’s still early. It might have some legs as word of mouth gets round that George Miller has made another masterpiece.

Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga is in theaters now.

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