Mad Max actor, Vincent ‘Nightrider’ Gil dies at 83

We bid farewell to the man who gave us Mad Max's Nightrider, Stone's Dr Death and much more


Aussie actor Vincent Gil, best-known as his role as Nightrider in Mad Max, has passed away at the age of 83.

Gil’s first iconic role was in the classic 1974 biker flick, Stone, as a theatrical, top hat-wearing member of the Gravediggers bikie gang named Dr Death.

If you’ve never seen Stone, do yourself a favour. It was a wild, pioneering piece of Aussie cinema history, that no doubt had a big influence on George Miller’s vision for Mad Max. Grab a copy of the DVD here.

Along with fellow Stone alumuni Hugh Keays-Byrne and Roger Ward, Gil went on to become a key cast member of the original Mad Max. His high-voltage turn as the doomed Crawford ‘Nightrider’ Montizano kicks off the film in a spectacular fashion, filling the screen with the kind of amphetamine-fuelled madness a sensible person will do their best to avoid in the real world.

Gil’s Nightrider may have only appeared briefly on screen, but produced some of the most quotable lines in the whole franchise.

“I am the Nightrider! I am the chosen one. The mighty hand of vengeance, sent down to strike the unroadworthy! I’m hotter than a rollin’ dice. Step right up, chum, and watch the kid lay down a rubber road, right to freedom”

What you may not have known is that Gil wasn’t actually piloting the stolen MFP HQ Pursuit Special. According to Luke Buckmaster’s Miller and Max: George Miller and the making of a film legend, Gil couldn’t drive – or at least didn’t have his license – when fliming started.

“When I told them that I didn’t drive they got me 16 lessons with a driving school,” Gil told Buckmaster. “Apparently I needed a licence for the legality of it.”

Nevertheless, the job of actually driving the Monaro was given to the film’s stunt co-ordinator, Grant Page. Page was positioned precariously inbetween the Nightrider and his gal, leaning back so he could just peep over the dashboard. “I’m also sitting on the bloody handbrake, which was sticking up my arse,” according to Page.

And the story of how the rocket-propelled Monaro was crashed is a ripper. Check it out in full – and many other wild Max tales – in Buckmaster’s book:

Miller And Max

Miller and Max: George Miller and the making of a film legend by Guardian Australia film critic, Luke Buckmaster.

Besides a healthy filmography, Gil had roles in countless Aussie TV classics, including Homicide, Prisoner, Number 96, Division 4 , Neighbours and Heartbreak High.

Gil fans keen to see him dig into more of that Nightrider energy could track down the ultra-violent Ghosts…of the Civil Dead (1988), but be warned – it is a deeply disturbing flim.

In recent years, Gil regularly appeared at Mad Max fan events, including the 2016 Reunion event at Clunes and others overseas.

Fellow Max actor Paul ‘Cundalini’ Johnstone posted this tribute to his cast mate on Facebook:

“My fondest memory of Vince will be during our wonderful tour of Japan for MMCon 2015. He was already in less-than-ideal health, and in the opening days a couple of us were concerned about his ability to get through the long demanding days of convention and socialising and travel.

“We need not have been concerned. 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 and showed that he had a lot more stamina than many of we much younger men.”

Gil also appeared in the filmclip of the song MFP, by Aussie rockers, Dark Clouds.

Thanks for everything Gil, we’ll remember you when we look at the night sky.