[Writer-director George] Miller had announced last weekend that pre-production work was starting in New South Wales but he didn't give any indication as to whether Mel Gibson might return or who would play the male lead. "It could be Mel, it could be anyone," he told reporters.The Hollywood Reporter's story on the matter indicates that Hardy replaces Gibson as Max. The Reporter also indicates the sequel takes place not long after the events of 1985's "Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome." Filming is slated to begin in August, which is a long time from now. Gibson-free or not, I’m trying to contain my excitement, and failing really miserably! I love all the Miller-Gibson collaborations, but I'd choose a Gibson-free Miller "Max" over a Miller-free Gibson "Max" every time.