Forget Mel Gibson’s titular road warrior. The undisputed star of post-apocalyptic sequel Mad Max 2 was the growling, mullet-haired, boomerang-swinging boy known simply as Feral Kid. But what happened to the youngster when he grew up? Well, you might be surprised to discover that he took a very different path.
The scene-stealing character was played by a complete unknown at the time, Emil Minty. Born and raised in the Australian city of Sydney, the actor was just eight years old when he grunted his way to fame across the world. Of course, this means that he’s now approaching the big 5-0!
For those of you who have never seen the 1981 second installment of George Miller’s Mad Max series, the Feral Kid was roughly the same age as the boy who played him. The character was adopted by leader Pappagallo and his settler tribe. His most distinctive trait was that he could only communicate by making wild animal-like noises.
Gibson’s iconic Max Rockatansky forges a connection with the Feral Kid when he gifts him with a music box that he’s found on his travels. Despite his young age, the grunting boy proves to be an effective ally for the road warrior. In fact, using his impressive boomerang skills, Minty’s character manages to kill a member of the Humungus gang, who are in pursuit of Max.
The Feral Kid’s slaying of the man named The Golden Youth sends the dead man’s companion Wez into a fit of fury and gives him a thirst for retribution. Luckily, the youngster is saved by Max during the climactic showdown which ultimately results in Wez’s death. But the Feral Kid’s remarkable story doesn’t end there.
Yes, as the Feral Kid is seen staring out of the bus window in the final scene, it’s revealed that he’s now the narrator we hear at the start and end of the movie. The character has been telling the story of his youth to ensure that Mad Max’s heroics are never forgotten. And we also discover that the Feral Kid has grown up to be the villagers’ leader.
Alongside all the grunting, the Feral Kid also made quite the impression with his appearance. Minty had to wear contact lenses during the shoot, one green and one blue, to achieve part of the memorable look. Unfortunately, the combination of this eyewear and the set’s constant dustiness caused the youngster much irritation.
Almost the entirety of the Feral Kid’s outfit, from his underwear to his shoes, is made of fur. The youngster also accessorized his look with a belt that held his weapon of choice, a metal boomerang. But it’s the character’s wild hair that’s perhaps best remembered by those who grew up watching the post-apocalyptic sequel on VHS.
That’s right: the Feral Kid sported the kind of mullet of which even Billy Ray Cyrus would have been proud. You probably won’t be surprised to learn that Minty needed some help to achieve this striking look. Half of the actor’s white-streaked do was his own, but the other half was courtesy of the hair and makeup department.
So how did Minty get the gig in the first place? Well, he has his sister partly to thank. The youngster had been encouraged by his sibling to join the same acting agency she’d signed with as a way of earning some more pocket money. After taking her advice on board, Minty quickly landed a role in a TV advert for lemonade.
Minty was then put forward for a try-out for the project that would launch him to fame. But he wasn’t actually told that it was anything to do with the Mad Max franchise. It was only when the post-apocalyptic movie got closer to production that Minty was put in the loop.
Despite the fact that he didn’t utter an intelligible word throughout the entire movie, the Feral Kid became Mad Max 2’s breakout star. And the boy who played him wasted little time in capitalizing on his unlikely success. Indeed, within a year, Minty was back on the big screen.
In 1982 Minty starred opposite John Jarratt and John Ewart in Peter Maxwell’s Fluteman. The Australian picture was a reimagining of classic folk tale The Pied Piper of Hamelin. Minty played Toby, the only youngster who doesn’t disappear from the small drought-ridden town of Minyaka after a mysterious flautist enacts his revenge.
Minty was then cast in the 1984 period drama The Winds of Jarrah. He played Andy Marlow, the youngest of three kids being looked after by their uncle in post-war Australia. The film was based on a tome from the hugely popular series of romantic novels known as Mills and Boon.
The small screen then came calling in 1985 with a role in anthology Winners. Minty stuck with television for the rest of the decade. He appeared as Thommo in miniseries Alice to Nowhere, student Patrick McCormick in 19th-century drama The Haunted School and Young Nick in swashbuckling biopic Captain James Cook.
In 1988 Minty appeared in his first TV movie, playing Wayne Barbuto in Touch the Sun: Peter and Pompey. The fantastical tale explored how the life of an Australian youngster was inextricably tied with that of a Roman immigrant in the era of Emperor Nero. Minty rounded off the decade by gracing two of Australia’s biggest small-screen exports.
Minty first showed up in The Flying Doctors in 1988 as Andy Lawson. But two years later he returned to the long-running medical drama as an entirely different character with the name of Mat Coulson. In between, Minty enjoyed a six-episode stint as Danny Laylor in the popular soap opera A Country Practice.
In 1992 Minty shared the screen with future The Matrix star Hugo Weaving in Road to Alice. The short film followed the fortunes of a heavily indebted man who embarks on a vacation that gets wildly out of hand. Minty played a character called Dodo in the half-hour tale. And this would prove to be his final on-screen role.
In 2015 Minty told blog Nate Watches Cool Movies that despite his early retirement, he still looks back on his acting career with happiness. The ex-child star said, “[I] enjoyed acting and being on a set and at various locations very much. I was doing something I enjoyed and seeing different places and getting treated very well by everyone involved in many productions.”
Minty continued, “Life these days for me I guess is just normal like everyone else, always busy working and doing things with the family. I love the life I have had doing films and meeting the people I have and experiences gained and would not change it for the world. Nor would I change anything now.”
So what has the man who shot to fame by grunting been up to since waving goodbye to the world of showbiz? Well, Minty explained further, “I was still acting while I started working with my brother’s mate, a friend of the family as an apprentice jeweler and acting just started to slow down. And I just got more interested in having a secure job and getting a trade.”
Minty continued, “So I just sort of faded out of the movie and television industry and I still work in the jewelry industry and for the same person today 25 years on.” Yes, the former movie star now earns a living as a jeweler, running a store named Chris Lewis Jewellers in the Sydney suburb of Gladesville. But he hasn’t entirely left his early career behind.
Mad Max devotees who walk into Minty’s jewelry store will no doubt recognize one of the items the former actor keeps there permanently, that’s for sure. That famous razor-sharp boomerang that the Feral Kid uses to kill The Golden Youth is a fixture of the business. Luckily, Minty is perfectly fine whenever a fan of his earlier work pays a visit.
In 2015 Minty revealed how the store had recently welcomed a fan who’d customized his Ford Falcon GT Coupe to resemble Max’s famous Interceptor. The former child actor told Australia’s The Daily Telegraph newspaper, “He unscrewed the glovebox, brought it into the shop and asked me to sign it. It’s all pretty mad.”
Minty is still very much the fan of his cinematic debut, too. He told the newspaper that he must have watched the Mad Max sequel “hundreds of times.” And even though his own feral character didn’t have any comprehensible lines, Minty can still recite his co-stars’ dialog off by heart.
A proud Minty went on to add, “I’m just so thrilled to have been a part of it. It makes people’s day when they find out I’m the Feral Kid… I don’t remember heaps from back then but I know I was excited to be around the incredible actors and all the crazy costumes. Being eight years old, I had a ball.”
Yes, it seems fair to say that Minty is one of those rare child stars who weren’t left emotionally scarred by their early rise to fame. For the jewelry store manager also recalled nothing but fond memories of his first time on a film set while talking to website Yahoo Movies that same year. Minty first disclosed the backstory he created which helped him to beat the tough competition for the role.
Minty explained, “My story was that my mum, dad and I were flying, we ran out of fuel and landed; my father went to go find fuel, and did not return. My mother left to go find my father and she also never returned, which left me to fend for myself.”
Mad Max 2’s producers were so impressed by Minty’s youthful creativity that they allowed him to have plenty more say about his character. The then-eight-year-old was responsible for designing much of the Feral Kid’s iconic costume. In fact, it was Minty who put forward the suggestion that the character’s boots should be covered in authentic animal hide.
Minty also explained that he very nearly wasn’t allowed to see his acting debut on a cinema screen. He told The Daily Telegraph, “We received a letter to inform me that I was unable to attend the premiere due to the film’s classification being R-rated.” Yes, unsurprisingly, Mad Max 2 wasn’t initially deemed to be suitable for the eyes of an eight-year-old.
Thankfully for Minty, the censors soon changed the movie’s rating from R to M. This was essentially the Australian version of the PG-13 certificate and meant that the youngster could attend the film’s first screening. And the next time Minty attended a Mad Max premiere, he didn’t have to worry about not being old enough to get in.
As it turns out, Minty was in his early 40s when he was asked to grace the red carpet for the Sydney premiere of Mad Max: Fury Road in 2015. And the invitation extended to his family, too. Minty took his teenage son Jacob and later posted a Facebook photo of the pair posing alongside characters from the film.
Minty is also the father of a girl named Petra who is five years Jacob’s junior. And he’s been married to the same woman since the late 1990s. In his chat with Yahoo Movies, the former child star revealed that the Minty brood all “live life like most ordinary families.”
So did the Mad Max reboot starring Tom Hardy as the titular warrior get Minty’s seal of approval? Well, it’s fair to say that he was bowled over, telling Yahoo Movies, “It was a mind-blowing, action-packed movie from start to finish. Magnificent work from George Miller and the entire cast and crew.”
Before seeing Fury Road on the big screen, Minty told The Daily Telegraph his past connection with the franchise didn’t mean he was privy to any insider information. He explained that he didn’t know anything about the film apart from what featured in the trailer. But the jeweler was delighted with one shot that he had spotted in said promo.
Yes, although there isn’t a specific mention of Minty’s character the Feral Kid in the 2015 reboot, he hasn’t been entirely forgotten. The former actor added, “I did see a reference to the little wind-up music box Max gives the Feral Kid [in Mad Max 2]. So there’s a little nod to my character.”
And the reignited interest in Mad Max appeared to boost Minty’s public profile once again. In 2019 he was invited to appear at a meet-and-greet fundraiser for a mooted Ned Kelly Center in the Aussie town of Glenrowan. Minty was joined by a replica of Max’s famous Ford XB V8 Interceptor at the daytime event.
In an interview to promote the fundraiser, Minty revealed that he was still very much proud to be associated with his Feral Kid character. The ex-child star told local newspaper the Wangaratta Chronicle that he often showed up at Mad Max conventions, adding, “I love to get involved with fans. I’m a massive fan myself.”
If you need any further proof of his fandom, then check out what Minty revealed to Nate Watches Cool Movies in 2015. He said, “I have just purchased a 1973 Ford XA two-door coupe and I am in the process of building a replica Mad Max Interceptor. So this is a pretty cool time as well and can’t wait to drive it around… So watch out for me on the road lol.”