Interview: Max Brown

Mark Halyday caught up with Max Brown from Season 2 of AACTA and Logie Award winning Australian supernatural Glitch and asked him about joining an established show, how he got here and more. Every episode of season two is on iView now and will drop on Netflix on November 28 globally.

Mark: It’s unusual for ABC to drop all the episodes at once.

Max: Yeah so now it’s a Netflix co-production whereas the first season was purely Australian with Matchbox Pictures and the ABC. Netflix spearheaded that culture with House of Cards and all their original content so it’s in that tradition.

Well they’ve been in Australia a couple of years now. Time to start spending some money here!

Yeah exactly! Time to put some money into our economy (laughs). So after Netflix picked up season one of Glitch it got a really strong response in the American audience and they were sort of comparing it to – and it’s not like it at all – but Stranger Things and picked up the same kind of audience. So I think that’s why Netflix came on board and said ‘I’d love to help season two’

Because Australia doesn’t really do a lot of supernatural stuff. That’s what stood out about Glitch.

We don’t tend to do a lot of genre stuff full stop. I think the closest we get is crime procedurals and police shows but we’ve starting branching out with Glitch and Cleverman as well. It turns out we do a pretty good job!

What appealed to you about Glitch and why did you get involved?

Well the funny thing is I watched the first season when it came out two years ago and I was already a massive fan. I love all that stuff as well like zombies and shows like The Returned and Les Revenants which have similar concepts but one being American and the other French. I love the supernatural genre but I was just looking for good Aussie TV.

It’s what it comes down to at the end of the day. The storylines are tight, the acting is amazing, so much mystery going on.

And I’d already worked with one of the directors from Glitch, Emma Freeman, on a previous show called Secret City but I still had to audition like everyone else and get picked for the role.

Was there more pressure because the first season was so successful?

You’re actually right but there’s more pressure on myself because I love the show so much, not because it was successful but because I was a fan. A lot of the time when you go for an audition for a new show that hasn’t been made you’ve got no pre-conception of what it will be like – but you hope that you get it but you don’t have a personal investment – but I really wanted to get Glitch.

And I didn’t think I got it either. I left feeling like I missed my chance so I was a bit bummed.

Any horror stories from it or just not feeling it?

Not a horror story really, just general actor’s neurosis kicking in. I mean the audition was fine and the casting director Alison Telford is amazing, she’s fantastic to work with and very professional, but just actor’s doubts every so often. Then I got the phone call that said I got it and I was over the moon.’

Before Glitch you did Neighbours. I hear it’s a madhouse and it’s constantly pushing out content every week. Was that your experience?

Both Neighbours and Home and Away are like that because they’re such long running shows with five episodes each a week.  I wouldn’t call a madhouse but definitely under the pump. We’re shooting bits and pieces from however many different episodes all in one day, and it’s not in order either, so you might do a scene from your first episode in the morning and your third episode in the afternoon.

It’s interesting to try and get your head around it but the great thing about Neighbours and Home and Away is it teaches you to be professional. You don’t have time to muck around. You need to get in there and nail your scenes and your lines. It’s a really good training way in that way that you don’t have the luxuries you may have on other shows.

Then you went and starred in a music video for a Triple J Unearthed band ADKOB. Looked like a lot of fun with all the paint flying and the colours around.

ADKOB are a great Sydney based band and I’d worked with the director before on a promo/commercial in Melbourne and he remembered me from that. So he phoned me up and offered me the role. I love music videos. I grew up recording them off the TV as a weird hobby and keeping compilations so I’ve always loved that combination between music and visuals. So it’s great to be on set and be a part of that.

And the great thing about ADKOB too is they have such an artistic vision. It was a kind of contemporary art with colours and paint to express emotion, how that comes through and the relationship with the characters.

Next year you have a film lined up that has a very in-your-face title. What’s it called?

(laughs) We’re Not Here to Fuck Spiders.

It’s brilliant.

Yeah I was in LA just recently talking to an agent and they brought that up almost straight away. He was like ‘What does this mean? What is this interesting title?’. I wasn’t aware of it but it’s an old Aussie colloquialism which as far as I understand means we’re not hear to muck around or we’re hre to get down to business.

That was a really full on shoot actually. Josh Reed is the director, previously directed an Aussie film Primal and does a lot of work for the ABC like The Chaser, and he came up with this concept that’s almost a Rapunzel-type story where someone is held captive in this drug den, this house in Sydney run by this drug manufacturer.

And the concept behind is that it’s almost all improvised. Josh wrote a skeleton script with plot points and beats and things and really detailed descriptions of the characters, and then he cast all of us actors and got us to live it out. He hired out the house for a few weeks and a few of us actors ended up living in the house and more or less stayed in character. And then he would get there and we’d play out the scenes with a bit of direction.

That must be so much as an actor.

Yeah it’s a mix of things. It’s fun but it’s also kind of scary because you realise all of a sudden that you’re used to a script being a safety net. You know where the scene begins, the middle and the end, and you know roughly where you need to believe all that. But the thing about impro is you pretty much only know the beginning. There’s this vague idea of where you think you’ll end up to lead onto the next scene but it can go anywhere.

So I think it’s a bit intimidating at first but then exactly what you said – it’s about as pure acting as you can get because you can really live in the circumstance and really work off each other to create something. It’s trial and error too. Sometimes it didn’t work and sometimes it did.

And just wrap it up with one easy one and one hard one. Easy one first: if you act opposite one Australian actor who would it be?

I’ve already managed to act opposite the cast of Glitch. They would have been high on my list. WOw, um, I don’t think I can nail it down to one.

Top 3 then?

Joel Edgerton is definitely in my top 3, I can rewatch his work endlessly. He’s just got such an effortless presence on screen. Plus he’s from Western Sydney like me (westies represent!).

Rose Byrne looks like a lot of fun and she’s so talented. And Remy Hii, because it would be nice to see a scene with two Asian Australian male actors in the same scene. It’s pretty rare I’m not sure I’ve seen it before apart from Neighbours.

Well that leads into my next question pretty well. If you could change one thing about the industry what would it be?

One thing? You’ve gotta cut down your list from the hundred things to just one thing I want changed.

Better food on set?

(Laughs) The food on set is fantastic but I don’t eat, I just drink coffee all the time. So I miss out on all the benefits. I’m ridiculous!

But if we want to go down that road I suppose I would defiantly say diversity is one of the things. And not just diversity in ethnic actors which is something I’m very interested in being half-Asian-Australian male actor, but also diversity all around. I think better roles for all genders, on the queer spectrum, ableism, just more diversity in stories.

And more diversity in the diversity, if that makes sense. So not just having ethnic faces and so forth on TV, but not presenting stereotypical roles for those people. Really breaking the boundaries and showing wider variety of characters. Not all Middle Eastern characters are a particular way and not all Asian characters are a particular way. Really showing a broad range in those groups.

Definitely. Thanks for chatting with us.

The second season Glitch,  winner of AACTA Best Television Drama and Logie for Most Outstanding Drama, is available on ABC iView now. The first season is available on Netflix now and the second season will be available globally on November 28.


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