It’s been nearly five full years since director George Miller set the movie world on fire with Mad Max: Fury Road, one of the ballsiest films ever made and easily one of the greatest movies of the past decade. A possible sequel was mired in legal troubles for a while, but last year, it seemed as if things were finally in place for not just one movie, but multiple Mad Max movies to get underway.

Now a new report says Miller is actively holding auditions for a Mad Max Furiosa prequel movie, which he hopes to begin shooting next year. One of the people he’s auditioned for the lead role? The Witch, Split, and Emma. actress Anya Taylor-Joy.

In a Variety article discussing the uncertainty of major upcoming blockbuster production dates, there’s an aside that will be of significant interest to disciples of Miller’s Mad Max films:

Director George Miller, for instance, has been meeting with names including Anya Taylor-Joy for his ‘Furiousa’ [sic] spin-off, which he hopes to start shooting in 2021. Of course, Miller is making concessions to coronavirus — those auditions have taken place via Skype.

Rumors of a Furiosa movie have been floating around since 2016, but this is the most concrete word yet that Miller is actually prioritizing it over the other planned Mad Max movies, one of which is supposed to be a Fury Road sequel called Mad Max: The Wasteland.

The case could be made that Charlize Theron‘s searing, tight-lipped performance as Furiosa was one of the defining performances of the 2010s: Theron shaved her head, rode out into the desert for a chaotic-as-hell film shoot, butted heads with co-star Tom Hardy, and still proved to the world that this Oscar winner had major range and that she should absolutely be taken seriously as an action star. But the problem, if you can even call it that, is that she was so good as Furiosa that she’s become inextricably linked to that role. Anyone else stepping in will not only have to shoulder the requirements of whatever this movie demands, but also shrug off the audience’s deep association with Theron as that character.

It helps that it’ll be a prequel, so maybe a young star like Taylor-Joy could actually put her own stamp on the role. But remember, she hasn’t been cast yet – she’s one of several people Miller has auditioned, and the only one we know by name so far. But it’ll be interesting to see what qualities Miller is searching for in a younger version of his protagonist for this spin-off, and how audiences will react to the first Mad Max movie without Mad Max in it.

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