Director George Miller’s Wife Won an Oscar for Editing ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’ Despite Having No Experience With Action Movies

Mad Max: Fury Road is an action film starring Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron. The movie made waves with critics as well as fans when it was released in 2015 and was widely viewed as a return to form for apocalyptic action movies.

Mad Max: Fury Road was directed by the acclaimed filmmaker George Miller, but there were many creatives who had a hand in making the finished film what it was, including Miller’s wife, the unassuming and devoted Margaret Sixel, who has helped Miller in many of his high-profile ventures. In fact, for her work on Mad Max: Fury Road, Sixel scored one of the film industry’s highest honors. 

George Miller and Margaret Sixel are professional partners as well as husband and wife

Sixel was born in South Africa and studied film editing at college. In the late ’80s, Sixel met her future husband, George Miller. The two would eventually get married in 1995 and welcome two children.

Long before Miller was a prominent Hollywood director, he was working on projects with his wife and collaborator. Over the years, Miller and Sixel developed a strong bond, and when it came time for Miller to hire an editor for his film Mad Max: Fury Road, he knew that there was only one person for the job.

According to Below the Line, Sixel didn’t initially want to work on the film, however. “George was going to be away for at least eight months shooting in Namibia and as we have two teenage sons together, I was concerned that I might not have enough hours in the day,” Sixel admitted. She was eventually persuaded to edit the film after seeing initial footage, in particular, the opening scene where Max eats the lizard in the desert. 

Margaret Sixel dedicated months of work to ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’

Film editor Margaret Sixel, winner of the Best Film Editing award for 'Mad Max: Fury Road,' poses in the press room at the 88th Annual Academy Awards at Hollywood & Highland Center on February 28, 2016 in Hollywood, California.
Margaret Sixel | Dan MacMedan/WireImage

In the end, as Below the Line reports, it took Sixel two years to edit all the footage from Mad Max: Fury Road. “We had 480 hours of material. That alone takes about 3 months to watch before you can even do anything with it,” Sixel said.

Ultimately, Mad Max: Fury Road was a critical darling after it was released, earning 10 Academy Award nominations and six total awards. One of those awards was for film editing and went to Miller’s hardworking wife, Margaret Sixel. Notably, it was the very first action film that Sixel had edited in her lengthy career. 

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Sixel became the 12th woman to win the Academy Award for film editing. Sixel also eventually took home the BAFTA Award for Best Editing. Miller praised his wife for her dedication to the film, noting that she “has a super brain and can solve a problem like a Rubik’s Cube.”

Speaking to the specific difficulties that accompanied the editing of Mad Max: Fury Road, Miller said “there must be a progression in what the audience learns about the characters and what the world is about. And you are doing it on the run — there’s no stopping for exposition.”

What other film work has Margaret Sixel done?

Mad Max: Fury Road might be the first action movie that Sixel has worked on with her husband, but she’s got several other impressive film credits on her resume. Sixel and Miller worked together on the 1998 film Babe: Pig in the City and the animated family film Happy Feet. Through it all, Sixel and Miller have managed to carve out an incredibly impressive partnership that has lasted decades. 

As Sixel joked in a 2015 interview with The Sydney Morning Herald about her film work with her husband, “together we make the complete person.” Clearly, their partnership has managed to be successful on all levels, since they have a happy family as well as a string of hit movies to their credit.

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