Remember your worth.… it’s about knowing your value over what people say your value is. I think that we have to know who we are and what we deserve. So trust in that!
As a part of our series about pop culture’s rising stars, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Max Talisman.
Actor, singer, writer and creative force, Max Talisman is set to make his writing and directorial debut in his upcoming gay romantic comedy, THINGS LIKE THIS. The film will star Charlie Tahan (Netflix’s “Ozark”), Eric Roberts (THE DARK KNIGHT) and Miles Tagtmeyer (DISNEY DESCENDANTS: SCHOOL OF SECRETS), about two men falling in love. It seems like everything is aligned for them to fall in love; they have the same name, they have a lot of the same traits and it just seems like fate has brought them together. However, what is meant to be isn’t always what it seems. Max was drawn to write this story because he felt that there were stories portraying high school students “coming out” or stories about gay couples that were far along in their lives but not many stories about the in between.
When his senior year of high school began, Max made the courageous move to NYC to follow his passion for theatre. He joined the Broadway Artists Alliance, a professional training academy for promising young musical theatre performers right in the heart of New York City. After living in the big apple for 5 years, he decided to make his way to Hollywood, California. He’s appeared in The Orchard’s SUPER DARK TIMES, TBS’ “Search Party” and NBC’s “The Blacklist”.
With a life of travel, art, and hobbies, Max hopes to incorporate all his current and future life experiences in all he does. He hopes to be a role model for the LGBTQ community and break stereotypical barriers/roles in Hollywood.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?
I have always felt like this was my only path. I used to tell my mom growing up that I wanted to “write, direct and star in my own shows”, and now I’m weirdly enough doing it. It’s a crazy thing to actually be following your passions and dreams, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything else and I’m so incredibly lucky to begin this journey. There’s so much I want to do, and I am just so excited to do it!
Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
When I did “Super Dark Times” they made a dummy of me so they could have scenes with my body *SPOILER ALERT* after my character unfortunately gets brutally killed. But because we filmed my death scene in the rain, the producers noticed that when my hair gets wet, it curls in the front. Because my hair curled in the front, they had to do that with the dummy. Unfortunately for me, and the film, the budget didn’t allow for a more expensive wig that could curl. Which meant that I had to be in the scenes that was meant for the dummy and I spent hours holding my breath, in the wet leaves, while it rained. So that was an adventure!
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
THINGS LIKE THIS began because I was writing a horror movie, and the scenes kept deviating into a comedy. So, I thought that the signs were pointing me to write what I know, which is a comedy. Around this time LOVE SIMON and ALEX STRANGELOVE were released, which are incredible films and I’m so grateful they were made. However, both of those movies are so focused on the struggle of coming out. While, I came out seven years ago, my adult life truly began once I came out. So, I felt it was important to tell that part of the story. Where gay people just fall in love and coming out isn’t in the equation anymore. I wanted to tell a story that was universal in it’s journey of two young people falling in love. We haven’t seen that with a gay couple and that’s where this movies journey began.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
So many! I’m not even sure where to begin. I think a script can be improved every day until you shoot the pages. Since I’m so new to writing film, and directing a movie, I’m learning new things every single day. I’m completely open to learning those things and I’m here to learn. I think the biggest mistake I made was the original way it ended. The ending has changed multiple times, in many ways. I think I’ve been searching for that ending this entire time, when the truth was that the simplest answer turned out to be the best way to go. The lesson I took from it was that sometimes overthinking things can have a negative effect on the process, and the film.
We are very interested in diversity in the entertainment industry. Can you share three reasons with our readers about why you think it’s important to have diversity represented in film and television? How can that potentially affect our culture?
I’m very interested in diversity in film too. The reason I want to make films is so underrepresented people feel seen on screen. The biggest reason this is important is for the youth who need to feel represented. I believe deeply that we need to encourage young people to be proud in who they are. And we can do that by telling stories that they can relate to. If I had a movie like THINGS LIKE THIS growing up, it could have done so much good for me.
Another reason this is important is because the face of our country and the world in general is changing. Diversity exists in the world around us, and that should be reflected in film. And the last reason I’ll say now, although I believe there are innumerable reasons why this is important, is to educate. There are people who are afraid of the “other”. They fear what is different from them because they don’t understand it. I believe that through film and all media we are able to educate those who feel this way, to understand that all humans are human, even with different backgrounds. We’re all so much more alike than we are different. I think movies can help people understand that. That’s why movies like THINGS LIKE THIS are so important.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
- Trust your instincts. This is the most important one for me. Trust your gut about people who are truly worth working with, and those who are better left out of your journey.
- Remember your worth. This is similar to the first because it’s about knowing your value over what people say your value is. I think that we have to know who we are and what we deserve. So trust in that!
- Celebrate everything you’ve done. I think sometimes I haven’t allowed myself to enjoy my accomplishments because I always want to do more, but I think it’s important to recognize all the milestones along the way and savor them.
- Let yourself relax. I’m someone who hates not working. I hate it. I don’t like to be bored. Sometimes I have to remind myself that resting is important, so when those big moments happen I’m ready for them.
- Treat everyone with respect. I knew this when I first started but some people forget it. Always make sure that you’re treating everyone with respect. They all work just as hard as you.
What tips would you recommend actors starting out in the industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
Create a family of friends, and collaborators. People who you trust implicitly. Find the unicorns and hold on to them. They’re going to be your greatest joy in the darkest times.
You are a person of influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.
LGBTQ homelessness, especially in young people. It’s so awful, and painful to me. I can’t believe that someone would kick out their child for being different from them or not being what they originally imagined their child to be. I would want to create a movement of foster homes for the displaced young people, where they are placed into the homes of adult members of our community. I think that way they’ll be treated with the love they deserve, and we can pay forward our good fortune with being able to provide them a home.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
Jody Prusan at Connecting Talent Company has been my manager for eleven years. She fought for me when no one else would. She’s believed in me from the very, very beginning. A good story is on the opening night of SUPER DARK TIMES; She stayed with me from sunrise to sunset and made sure I was taken care of. Like I said, she’s always there for me. She also secured my current relationship with Andrew Burrill at Sovereign Talent. He’s one of those unicorns I mentioned earlier. I’m holding on to him!
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
This may be lame and cliche, but the opening monologue to Ferris Bueller’s Day Off remains shockingly poignant and deep. “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”
How can our readers follow you online?
Please follow me on Instagram and Twitter @TheMaxTShow! You can follow updates for THINGS LIKE THIS @THINGSLIKEMOVIE on both Instagram and Twitter!
This was very meaningful, thank you so much! We wish you continued success!