Vincent Gil, the actor behind legendary movie villain Nightrider in Mad Max (1979) has died at the age of 83, as confirmed by his close friend and co-star, Paul Johnstone. Johnstone, who played Cundalini, the heart-shaped glasses-wearing member of Toecutter’s motorcycle gang, shared the heartbreaking news on Sunday by posting a touching tribute on Facebook.
“Sadly, it is true,” he wrote. “Vince Gil has left us. He’s been very frail for quite some time and mercifully no longer needs to be constrained by his mortal form.”
Johnstone then shared his “fondest memory” of Vincent Gil – a 2015 fan convention in Japan that allowed the friends to tour the country together. “He was already in less-than-ideal health,” the actor explained. “And in the opening days a couple of us were concerned about his ability to get through the long demanding days of convention and socializing and travel and convention and…”
Vincent Gil was already 76 years old at the time. Endearingly, however, he quickly proved that it was his younger friends should worry about their own ability to keep up, not his. “We need not have been concerned,” Johnstone said. “Vince was remarkable – he rose to the occasion every time, fed off the energy of the wonderful Japanese fans.”
“And on the occasions when I’d glance at him and be worried about his ability to keep going, he’d shrug off any concerns. [He] showed that he had a lot more stamina than many of we much younger men.”
“Rest well old friend,” the heartbroken actor concluded. “We will remember you when we look at the night sky.”
The Hilarious Story Behind Vincent Gil’s ‘Mad Max’ Performance
Vincent Gil’s acting career stretched an incredible half a century, throughout which he was primarily a TV star. His most memorable role, however, was as Nightrider in the 1979 action film Mad Max. Vincent Gil’s performance as Nightrider is a relatively short one but thoroughly adrenaline-filled.
As Nightrider himself explains, he’s a “fuel-injected suicide machine.” A member of Toecutter’s infamous motorcycle gang, Nightrider is shown at the very start of the film, tearing down the highway with the Main Force Patrol hot on his trail.
While he’s excellent behind the wheel, Nightrider is also horrifically reckless. Hilariously, though, Vincent Gil himself didn’t even have a license. “When I told them that I didn’t drive, they got me 16 lessons with a driving school,” he explained to Luke Buckmaster of The Guardian. “Apparently I needed a license for the legality of it.”
Well, the Mad Max crew didn’t necessarily have an issue with bending the rules of the road. But Nightrider’s scene involved rather complicated stunt driving that someone who just learned to drive probably shouldn’t attempt.
To remedy the situation, stunt coordinator Grant Page crammed himself inside the car for the scene, ensuring that he was out of frame during Vincent Gil’s incredible performance. Though Nightrider was driving quite convincingly, Vincent Gil was not.
Instead, Page had somehow contorted himself so that he was gripping the bottom of the wheel with his feet on the controls, despite Gil being in the driver’s seat. “I’m also sitting on the bloody handbrake,” the stunt coordinator explained. “Which was sticking up my arse.”