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Mad Max Director George Miller Was Crushed by a Bullied Boy’s Story - So He Did Something Unbelievable
Quaden Bayles
Pop Culture

Mad Max Director George Miller Was Crushed by a Bullied Boy’s Story - So He Did Something Unbelievable

After seeing a heartbreaking video of a 9-year-old Indigenous Australian boy bullied because of his dwarfism, director George Miller cast him two films.

The effects of the now-famous video showing 9-year-old Quaden Bayles' heart-wrenching reaction to being bullied because of his dwarfism reverberate, more than two years after his mother, Yarraka Bayles, posted it on Facebook. The highest-profile yet may be the decision by legendary Mad Max director George Miller to cast Quaden in not one but two films.

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The boy has a minor role in Three Thousand Years of Longing, the fantasy romance now in theaters, and he will appear in Furiosa, Miller's upcoming prequel to the 2015 film Mad Max: Fury Road.

“It was good for us and it was good for him,” Miller recently told The Sydney Morning Herald. “And he did such a good job that he’s got a small role in Furiosa.”

Quaden Bayles' Mother Spoke on Behalf of Her Son

Quaden bayles1 1024x576
Yarraka Bayles and Qualen Bayles (Picture: quaden_the_kid)

A clearly upset Yarraka Bayles speaks over a portion of the six-and-a-half-minute video, uploaded in February 2020. She urges people to be aware of the dangers and sorrows that accompany bullying, and to do what they can to stop it.

"I want people to know – parents, educators, teachers – this is the effect that bullying has," she said. "This is what bullying does. So, can you please educate your children? Your families, your friends?… You wonder why kids are killing themselves?" 

The video of Quaden, who was born with achondroplasia, a rare genetic condition that causes dwarfism, gathered 23 million in a matter of weeks. The footage reveals a near-hysterical Quaden pleading that he wants to kill himself to put an end to the abuse.

"I'm going to die right now," he sobs. "Give me a knife, I'm going to kill myself. Give me a knife now so I can stab myself in the heart."

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With the viral spread of the video came countless messages of support from people around the world, including a number of celebrities.

Among those sent who Twitter messages to Quaden were the actor Jon Bernthal and superstar Australian actor Hugh Jackman, who attached a short video in which he says, “Quaden, you’re stronger than you know and, no matter what, you’ve got a friend in me.”

However, not all of the responses were positive. One of those, in particular, spurred George Miller to take action in support of the bullied boy.

George Miller Took an Interest in Quaden Bayles' Story

George Miller, with Tom Hardy, on the set of Mad Max: Fury Road (Photo: Warner Bros. Pictures)
George Miller, with Tom Hardy, on the set of Mad Max: Fury Road (Photo: Warner Bros. Pictures)

George Miller was moved by the video of Quaden Bayles, of course. But then he was upset to read that Australian newspaper columnist Miranda Devine had suggested Quaden might have been coached by his mother, “to obtain money from donors" as part of a fundraiser established by comedian Brad Williams to send the family to Disneyland.

Quaden’s family filed a defamation lawsuit, which ended in a confidential settlement -- and an apology from Devine. (Nevertheless, false online accusations of a scam persist.) In a postscript to that part of the story, nearly $500,00 was raised in the campaign. However, Quaden’s family declined the trip, and instead donated the money to two charities: Dwarfism Awareness Australia, and the Balunu Healing Foundation, which supports indigenous youth in Australia.

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But Miller, who was previously a physician, could tell the heartbreaking video wasn't a performance. “I thought, ‘What the hell would she know about that?’ ” the filmmaker recalled. “That really fired me up.”

With that, he cast Quaden as an extra in Three Thousand Years of Longing, which stars Idris Elba as a djinn who's freed from an antique bottle by a lonely academic (Tilda Swinton). Impressed with the boy's performance, Miller then added him to the cast of Furiosa, starring Anya Taylor-Joy and Chris Hemsworth.

Furiosa began filming in June in Australia. The film opens in May 2024.

Quaden Bayles' Remarkable Story Continues

Quaden Bayles, at the red-carpet premiere of Three Thousand Years of Longing (Photo: quaden_the_kid)
Quaden Bayles, at the red-carpet premiere of Three Thousand Years of Longing (Photo: quaden_the_kid)

However, Quaden Bayles' burgeoning film career is only one part of his incredible -- and incredibly uplifting -- journey, that extends well beyond George Miller movies.

In addition to messages of support from the likes of actors Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Mark Hamill, and commentator Megyn Kelly. Closer to Quaden’s home, Australia’s National Rugby League's Indigenous All Stars team invited the boy to join them that in February 2000 as they took the field in an exhibition match against the New Zealand Maori team.

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A perusal of his Instagram page reveals Quaden with Justin Bieber, opening a First Nations Fashion and Design runway show, and celebrating his heritage in an incredible photo shoot. That's only for starters, of course.

His story continues, with Quaden bringing more attention to bullying. Children of all ages experience bullying, which has the potential to create heightened sadness, distress and bodily harm, and can lead to lasting effects. Hopefully, it will serve as a reminder for adults to keep up the fight.

And who knows? The day may come when Quaden will win an Academy Award, and celebrate by taking his family to Disneyland.


The "Star Wars Kid" Strikes Back: How a Viral Victim Became an Anti-Bullying Hero

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