Yahya Abdul-Mateen II Exits Mad Max Spin-Off Furiosa, Tom Burke Steps In

George Miller's "Furiosa" prequel movie has just replaced one of its key drivers.

According to Deadline, Warner Bros. has hired actor Tom Burke to replace Yahya Abdul-Mateen II ("Watchmen," "Aquaman," "Candyman"), who had to leave the project due to a scheduling conflict. The report says Abdul-Mateen has been developing a secret passion project for a while and when that project's production window recently shifted up, it meant the superstar-in-the-making had to part ways with "Furiosa" in order to take advantage of that opportunity.

Who is Tom Burke?

Burke is not yet a household name, but he has made a mark in a few notable projects over the past several years. He played Ryan Gosling's character's scumbag brother in Nicolas Winding Refn's meditative, Oedipal, neon-soaked movie "Only God Forgives" in 2013. He took the role of Athos, one of the three musketeers in the BBC's TV adaptation of "The Musketeers" which ran from 2014-2016. Perhaps his most important role to date was as the male lead in Joanna Hogg's 2019 drama "The Souvenir," in which he struck a balance between suave sophistication and quiet menace as Anthony, the drug-addled older boyfriend of the main character. Last year, he played Orson Welles in David Fincher's "Mank," making a significant impact with a relatively small role, and he also stars as the title character in "C.B. Strike," the Cinemax TV adaptation of the book series written by J.K. Rowling under the pen name Robert Galbraith.

I'm a fan of what I've seen from Burke so far and I'm sure he'll be solid in this new movie, but there's no getting around it: it's disappointing that Yahya Abdul-Mateen II won't be in "Furiosa." Abdul-Mateen is emerging as an incredibly exciting new voice in the blockbuster space (he's about to play Morpheus in "The Matrix Resurrections"), and it would have been cool to see him share the screen with Anya Taylor-Joy as Furiosa, since she is in a similar up-and-comer position in the industry. Plus, this would have been the first time George Miller put a character of color in a big supporting role in the "Mad Max" universe since Tina Turner swagged her way through the Thunderdome in 1985. Will this role be rewritten to better align with Burke's strengths as an actor? We may never know.

"Furiosa," which also stars Chris Hemsworth, is currently slated to begin production next year and hit theaters on May 24, 2024.