Charlee Fraser: Mary Jabassa is a warrior, leader, and a mother

The actor, who played Furiosa's mother in Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga, talks about her career transition from modelling to films, the Mad Max franchise, George Miller's direction for her character and more..
Charlee Fraser: Mary Jabassa is a  warrior, leader, and a mother

George Miller’s recent addition to his Mad Max franchise, which follows Furiosa, is described as a ‘dark angel’s odyssey’. Like in any grand odyssey, the beginnings are shrouded in moments of strife and darkness, and how Furiosa’s story begins, is perhaps one of the most intense, darkest stories in the world of Mad Max, which is saying a lot. Charlee Fraser, who plays Furiosa’s mother, Mary Jabassa in the film, describes her character as a “warrior, leader, and a mother.” She then adds, “These three things set the foundation for the character perfectly.” The actor reveals that while she got every detail regarding her character from the script, she also spent time in the rehearsal room thinking about how Mary Jabassa’s life must have been before the events of the film.” Since Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga is a prequel to Mad Max: Fury Road, we know the fate of Mary Jabassa. On whether that affected her performance, Charlee reveals that she had to convince herself to stay in the moment with the character so that the audience also travels along with her, instead of thinking about her ultimate fate. “I managed to connect with the character through the amount of work I did along with the trust I had in the processes taught to me by the professionals. By the time we started filming, I had immersed myself in the character so much that she felt real to me. I was able to transfer those raw emotions into my performance.” 

According to the actor, the process of bringing Mary Jabassa to life involved more than just raw emotions, as she had to perform a range of high-octane stunts, from riding bikes in the desert to sniping enemies from afar and hand-to-hand combats. “It was so much fun,” she says, before adding, “I grew up riding motorcycles so I already knew how to ride. But I also picked up a lot of new skills for the film. I picked up horse riding, I learnt how to fire a rifle gun, and I also practised martial arts.” While Mary is designed as an unstoppable warrior, a pivotal moment in the film, where Mary shows kindness to Dementus’ female follower, goes on to change the course of both her and her daughter’s lives. “This moment was so impactful that I had several discussions with George (Miller) about why Mary would do that. We never really came to a conclusion because we all had different opinions and different emotions regarding that scene. My understanding of that scene is that Mary is a woman and she comes from a place of abundance that is filled with a lot of incredible women and she grew up protecting them. I think that is why she decides not to kill the woman in Dementus’ camp.”

Charlee also explains why we get to see very little of the Green Place of Many Mothers in the film. “We only see the Green Place for a short time because we want the central characters to get back to the place and just like how Furiosa has a faint memory of her home after she grows up, the audience would also have a faint idea of how the place looks like, and so we feel her desperation to see more of it.” She then adds, “Having said that, I really wish we had spent more time there. It is such a beautiful place. Maybe we could revisit the place in a prequel to the prequel on Mary’s life,” she signs off with a chuckle.  

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