News / 16 February 2022

Roger ‘Fifi’ Ward Talks MAD MAX And Its Fan Culture

As the Sydney Premiere of BEYOND THE WASTELAND at Skyline Drive-In approaches, we caught up for a chat with one of the guests of honour at the screening, Australian cinema royalty and genre icon, Roger Ward (Fifi from MAD MAX 1979).
Casting your mind back to your time on the production of MAD MAX, was the atmosphere on-set any different to that of other films you had been a part of, was there a sense that this film would be as groundbreaking for Australian cinema as it became?

No one never thought any of the films he did in the ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s would go on to become the groundbreaking cult films some of them are. This was no different regards interaction between the cast. It was even more so, as we shared the floor of George Miller’s flat, nights, gals, guys, et al. It was a fun time. Although on set, not so much. The crew showed George no respect. And George did little to earn it; mumbling, staring into space, thinking, planning. We all know what George was up to now, but this was his first feature, and even he suggested he be replaced after the first week. But he has proven he did know what he was doing, and the crew is now eating their hat.

After the film’s release, when did you realize how large a cultural impact the film had locally and globally?

Not initially, as within weeks of finishing the film, I embarked on an extended hitchhiking tour of the UK and Europe, so I was not here for the opening, nor did I give it a thought; MAD MAX was one of a string of movies I had done over the past couple of years, and I had no faith or belief in any of them. But while wandering through Copenhagen, I happened to see a life-size cutout of myself as Fifi, standing in a City foyer and saw  MAD MAX was showing. Suddenly excited that it at least had reached thus far, I wandered across to the ticket box and asked if I could have free admission. Thinking the girl would recognize me and offer a box seat, her smiling demeanour changed to outrage, and she ordered me from the theatre. “But that is me,” I said as I pointed to the cutout. “I am in the film.” I had, of course, forgotten I was in the hitchhiking mode of battered clothing, haversack, full beard, and long hair. It was only after the police arrived that I went peacefully. I didn’t see it until three or four years after completion. And I was surprised.

Can you recall a particular standout interaction with a fan of MAD MAX over the forty years since its release?

I’ve had many over the years and in all parts of the world. This one happened in Mumbai, India, and although the subject was not a ‘Fan’ not at first anyway, it is an interesting story.

A few months earlier, Jayashree Pillay, an Indian film writer for the Indian Express, came out to interview Australian actors. I was one that she had selected. She was beautiful, elegant, and highly educated, and I fell in love. She reciprocated but had to return to India. Some months later, I checked into the Taj Mahal Hotel in Mumbai, then left to rendezvous with Jayashree. We returned within fifteen minutes giggling, chatting, catching up, and wandered to the lift. It was an old-fashioned contraption with cyclone wire walls and had only travelled six feet of our journey when with a shudder, it stopped. I immediately pressed the up button, and we continued; three feet later, it stopped again, and we began to descend. I  pressed the stop button, then the up, and we continued only to stop again. It was only then that I peered through the cyclone wire walls to see a highly decorated and military uniformed Indian gentleman with his finger on the button and glaring upward.

Come down, Sir!” he demanded.

No, I’m going up. Wait your turn.

Come down, Sir, you cannot take prostitutes to your room.

I pressed the down button to prance from the lift in fighting mode. “How dare you call my Fiancee a prostitute,” I said as I prodded his chest.

He looked into my face, and his expression changed, “Oh God, Sir, you are Fifi from MAD MAX.

The hotel workers that had surrounded us glanced at each other in dismay and dispersed, and the Concierge went into a profuse apology. Jayashree was left tittering in the lift, ashamed, excited, and bewildered by it all.

Five minutes later, when we managed to break from the reception committee and enter my room, I found it alive with flowers, fresh fruit platters, and chocolates.

They turned out to be ‘Fans’ after all.
You will be in attendance at the Skyline Drive-In screening in Sydney; what are you most looking forward to about the event?

What I love about these gatherings is the interaction with the attendees. I love the Australian attitude in these cases, of all being equal, with the Aussie attendees, it is not a Fan speaking to the actor; it is man to man, mate to mate, and indeed over the years of attending these, many of us have become mates in the true sense of the word. It is also an excellent chance for the attendee to procure rare or popular photos signed by the actor. And even have a piece of memorabilia, a petrol tank, the door to a glove box, a jacket or T-shirt signed. Yes, it does cost twenty-five or so bucks to have this done, but it is a chance for us to make money that ceased for the actors some 45 odd years ago,

Finally, what do you feel it is about MAD MAX, as a film and franchise, that has made it endure over the years?

Definitely the ‘Fans.’ If it weren’t for the people who kept coming back to view this film and passed on their love to their sons or daughters, cousins or brothers, it would have died a natural. The people who loved Mad Max and went to see it in droves are those responsible for its longevity and the sequels it spawned. That is why this particular documentary is unique; it is a shout-out, an honorable mention, to those who have kept the dream alive. The FANS! I salute you. Fifi, with love.

BEYOND THE WASTELAND will have its Sydney Premiere at the Skyline Drive-In in Blacktown on Saturday 26th February with a Special Guest Q&A by Eddie Beyrouthy (Director/Producer), Phil Lambert (Producer), Roger ‘Fifi’ Ward (Actor, MAD MAX) and Paul ‘Cundalini’ Johnstone (Actor, MAD MAX).


VIC: Lido Cinemas Hawthorn
w/ Q&A by Eddie Beyrouthy (Director/Producer)
& Phil Lambert (Producer)

VIC: Showbiz Cinemas Drive-In Ballarat
w/ Q&A by Eddie Beyrouthy (Director/Producer)
& Phil Lambert (Producer)

 Classic Cinemas Elsternwick
w/ Q&A by Eddie Beyrouthy (Director/Producer)
& Phil Lambert (Producer)

ACT: NFSA – National Film and Sound Archive of Australia
w/ Q&A by Eddie Beyrouthy (Director/Producer)
& Phil Lambert (Producer)

NSW: Skyline Drive-In Blacktown
w/ Q&A by Eddie Beyrouthy (Director/Producer),
Phil Lambert (Producer), Roger ‘Fifi’ Ward (Actor, MAD MAX)
and Paul ‘Cundalini’ Johnstone (Actor, MAD MAX)


QLD: Event Cinemas Loganholme
w/ Q&A by Eddie Beyrouthy (Director/Producer)
& Phil Lambert (Producer)

The MAD MAX film franchise has left a significant mark on modern popular culture. Its dystopian, post-apocalyptic themes and imagery have inspired fans from around the globe to create unique fan art, custom-made machines, and to collect memorabilia of all kinds.

Shot in Australia, USA, Italy, France, Japan, and Germany, BEYOND THE WASTELAND follows fans from around the world who go to extraordinary lengths in the name of MAD MAX as they celebrate 40 years of this global cult phenomenon.

Transporting us into the world of MAD MAX, we explore the eccentric world of the fans, their costumes, and their machines as these oddball fans find their place amongst the MAD MAX community. From the world’s largest MAD MAX gathering in the USA, Wasteland Weekend to Japan’s MAD MAX conventions, and Australia’s own The Search for Max event in Clunes.

BEYOND THE WASTELAND not only celebrates life but the ability to change oneself through passion. The documentary also follows original cast member, Bertrand Cadart as he continues his fight against stage IV leukaemia and travels from his home on the Sunshine Coast to the ‘Wasteland’, the desert location of MAD MAX 2 in Silverton for the last time. This is a truly inspiring documentary.