George Miller has heaped praise on Mel Gibson for supporting the development of his classic Mad Max franchise. British actor Tom Hardy replaces the Australian actor in the title role though fans were surprised to see the Oscar winner walking the red carpet at the movie's premiere in Los Angeles in May 7.

Mad MaxTom Hardy replaces Mel Gibson in the lead role

Speaking ahead of the film's debut at the Cannes Film Festival on Thursday, Miller told the BBC: "Mel sat beside me at the premiere with Tom Hardy sat behind us and Mel is one of those people who can't censor himself. I kept seeing him chuckle. He's directing a movie in Australia now and would ask, 'Oh who's that actor?' He really loved it and it meant a lot to me and he gave me a hug."

"He's a great film-maker and I know he's had awful problems but he's a really good man struggling with his demons. I got his respect as a film-maker which was great," he continued.

More: read our full review of Mad Max: Fury Road

Fury Road, the first Mad Max film not to feature Mel Gibson in the title role, is being touted as a modern classic after a wave of glittering reviews from critics.

"This is how an action movie should be: gutsy, unapologetic, relentless, artful, well-written, full-throttle and, above all, spectacular. Destined to be an Australian classic," said Tim Martian of The Mercury,

The Cannes Film Festival opened on Wednesday (May 13) and runs until May 24. The Coen brothers head this year's jury, which also includes Sienna Miller and Jake Gyllenhaal.

More: Mad Max: Fury Road has a cool 100% on Rotten Tomatoes