Max Thieriot: The Guy Next Door
By: Lynn Barker
You’ve probably seen cute, brunette Max playing Emma Roberts' guy in Nancy Drew and he was a drifter accused of stealing in Kit Kittridge: An American Girl. Max played a shy high schooler with some personality problems in the creepy My Soul to Take.
This Friday, catch this cutie as the unusual guy next door welcoming new girl Jennifer, (Hunger Games), Lawrence to the neighborhood in the psychological thriller House at the End of the Street. With all the nice things Max says about Jen, he could be the Pres. of her fan club. He is also not afraid to seem silly by admitting that creepo doll Chucky from the “Child’s Play” films, scared the heck out of him as a kid.
Check it out!
Kidzworld: You have a lot to work with in your Ryan character in this film. Is the fact that the character is so complicated what made you attracted to the role?
- Max: Definitely. He’s got so many different layers and he’s such a complex character. As an actor it’s fascinating and exciting to pull that off. And the script in general (was surprising). I was so surprised by the movie after I finished it. I didn’t see all the things coming.
Kidzworld: That’s pretty awesome. You are one of the stars of the film and even you weren’t ready for the scares.
- Max: I know!
Kidzworld: Your character Ryan has a messed up past. Did you research anything about family murders or anything to really get into his head?
- Max: I watched a lot of videos about disturbed people. I’m a big research guy. I come up with backstories that might seem irrelevant to the viewer but I know in every scene where my character is coming from.
Kidzworld: I did a phone interview with you for your scary film My Soul to Take and you called it “Stand By Me… with knives”. Do you have a log line for this one?
- Max: I would call this one a mix between Psycho and American Beauty.
Kidzworld: Good choices. What horror or psych thriller films have actually scared you… even as a kid?
- Max: (big smile and laugh). Chucky (the creepy doll from the “Child’s Play” films) scared me as a kid. I had an older sister, two years older and I didn’t trust any of her dolls after that. Then she thought it was funny. She had this one doll and she’d sit it in my room. I’d get mad and throw it out of my room, come back upstairs and it would be sitting in the chair again. She thought that was hilarious. I don’t like Chucky.
Kidzworld: Pretty creepy. Jennifer said, in the press kit notes anyway, that you remind her of classic actor Paul Newman; cute and you have a cowboy vibe. So do you have a response to that?
- Max: I don’t know. Paul Newman and I have a few similar things. I’m small town and pretty much a cowboy. I race cars (like he did). I keep to myself. But to compare me to Paul Newman as an actor is way too nice of her. I can’t measure up.
Kidzworld: This was Jennifer’s first horror film. You’ve done some horror and sci fi. Did you give her any advice?
- Max: Naw. She was all over it right away. She’s so talented that I think she can pull off anything. She can obviously do artsy Oscar-type films (Winter’s Bone) and then be compelling enough to carry a movie like The Hunger Games. She’s easy to work with and by far talented enough to work in any genre.
Kidzworld: Did anything funny happen while shooting to lighten things up?
- Max: The only funny thing that happened is when my character breaks (actor) Nolan Funk’s ankle (Nolan plays a wanna-be boyfriend to Jennifer’s character), he started this high-pitched scream and, after a few takes, (director) Mark Tondarai just decided to let him sit there and scream a while and not call “cut”. He’s screaming for like 45 seconds while we all sat there laughing. He took a breath and started screaming again.
Kidzworld: A high-pitched “girlie” scream?
- Max: (laughs) Right.
Kidzworld: So funny. How about something scary really happening?
- Max: Nothing but I would say that the house my character Ryan lived in had a spooky vibe to it. It was a real house and we built the basement for it.
Kidzworld: You shot this in Ottawa. Did you, Jen and the cast do anything fun off set?
- Max: Oh definitely. We had the weekends off so we went to Montreal a few times and partied up there. It’s beautiful and fun.
Kidzworld: Were you the jokester on set between scenes?
- Max: Yeah. I’m probably the jokester. I was always in trouble for that in class. I kept it light and fooling around.
Kidzworld: There is quite a lot of physical action in the movie. You are carrying girls, struggling etc. Was that difficult?
- Max: No, fortunately I had just started working out before the film and didn’t know I’d be carrying anybody. I just lost 20 pounds in the last month though. I think the only injuries on the movie were getting the wind knocked out of you and scratches.
Kidzworld: You have played a lot of different characters but what type of film that you haven’t done would really like to?
- Max: A Western. I’ve played people from the South but not a cowboy. I ride horses. My sister rides a lot. I’m a small town farmboy in general.
Kidzworld: But you have a famous great-grandfather who co-founded the San Francisco Chronicle newspaper. Are you also a writer.. at least of scripts?
- Max: I have like three scripts that I’m writing but I haven’t finished one. I’m that kind of guy. I have an action one, a drama and a comedy.
Kidzworld: You play the older bro to Norman Bates in A&E TV’s upcoming “Bates Motel”. Were you a fan of the book or of the two Psycho movies?
- Max: Yeah. It’s cool I’m working with Vera Farmiga and Freddie Highmore (who plays Norman Bates). I leave to start that next week.
Kidzworld: You have another film in the can; Disconnect which is about feeling isolated in this overly-wired world. Do you feel that everyone texts and has their nose in their i-phone or computer too much? I do.
- Max: I feel like that definitely. It’s funny. I’m not that old but I remember the days when you didn’t text all the time and back when people were buying pagers. “I’ll beep or page you”. A cellphone was like in a car for emergencies (when he was little). But I don’t think it will ever go back. Even just talking on a land line phone would be good. More personal.