‘Parenthood’ Interview: Max Burkholder On No Table Reads, Stocking Up On Tissues

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Who knew that we would actually miss crying every week? Parenthood’s fourth season has come to a close, but thankfully the Braverman’s can pick up where they left off (with some dancing, we hope!) when its fifth season returns to NBC this fall. Max Burkholder has done a remarkable job portraying the son of Adam and Kristina who struggles with Asberger’s, and I recently chatted with the 15-year-old actor about the series that he’s basically grown up on. From favorite scenes to the most challenging, Max helped get us even more excited for the critically acclaimed series to return. He also totally agrees that stocking up on tissues is a must!

 

What was it like hearing about the Parenthood pickup? Did the cast celebrate?
MAX BURKHOLDER: We didn’t really get together. We all saw each other at the Television Academy Honors a week or two ago so that was where we really met and celebrated. Other than that, no I think we all just celebrated individually.

What’s it been like to start off so young and basically grow up on the show?
I think the main thing is that it’s gotten easier to play the character because in the beginning I didn’t know what I was getting into. Now I sort of found my groove I would say.

Was your character originally named Max?
It was Max already! That’s actually happened to me quite a bit—about seven or eight times. Actually once I did go in and the characters name wasn’t Max but the man who was playing my dad kept calling me Max during the scene so they eventually the director just said to change the name to Max.

What’s been your favorite scene so far playing Max?
That’s a tough one. I’d say all the scenes that I get to work with the animals. That’s a lot of fun for me. It’s not too difficult because they bring in wranglers but I love it.

There are a lot of emotional scenes in the show. What has been the most challenging for you?
The most challenging I’d say all of the scenes—like literally all of the scenes where Max has to betray something that is specific to someone with Asberger’s. Because I know I have to get it perfect or I will be misrepresenting the community.

Did you research ahead of time for such a role?
Yeah, I have done a lot of research and I just took everything from the Asberger’s community into account with what I was doing while I was developing Max as a character. I was sort of figuring out who he was. 

What scene made you laugh the most? That showering scene, for example, was absolutely hilarious.
Yeah, I was going to say! That was pretty fun to shoot. [Laughs] It took a few shots because Peter [Krause], who was directing at the time, wanted to get my feet exactly right as I was walking out. He wanted to get it in the frame perfectly.

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What’s been your favorite table read?
We don’t have table reads actually.

That’s interesting! Is it because for the most part all of you just concentrate more on your individual family scenes?
That might be it. I’m not sure why we don’t usually have a table read. I really don’t actually think we’ve had any table reads. And what you said about tears before? In the Parenthood Season 4 DVD set there’s tissues included. We got a set of that at the Television Academy Honors. They gave one out to everyone. It just came with a bag of tissues in the front taped in with some cellophane. And on the front it said something like, ‘We should never be ashamed of our tears.’ [Laughs]

You and the cast must catch on how many tissues fans go through.
Yeah, by the end of every episode there’s at least two hysterical crying moments!

It’s so true!
Its like, ‘Oh my God, what’s going to happen?’ 

The writer’s know exactly what they’re doing.
You are bracing yourself because you know that’s when it’s going to come!

What did you consider the most emotional?
I think the most emotional was the Kristina cancers scenes because everyone had one. There was Adam watching the video incase she died, there’s Max dancing with her, there was the hospital scene when everyone’s there. There were a lot of emotional scenes surrounded by that story line. 

Any Max story lines you would love to see in Season 5?
I mean he doesn’t really branch out much out of his immediate family so I would just like to see him interact with Crosby and Zeek and guess more with Amber. He’s hung out with Drew in the first couple of seasons and I want to see that more. 

Maybe a possible girlfriend for Max? Adam and Kristina trying to handle that would be for a good story line. 
Maybe, yeah! 

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‘The Purge’ Interview: Max Burkholder’s Transition From TV To Box Office Thriller

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Playing Max Braverman on the critically acclaimed NBC series Parenthood, Max Burkholder’s performance as a teen going through Asberger’s has been nothing short of remarkable acting. But after taking up the role for the past four seasons, Burkholder decided to take on a new film project just before Season 5 heads into production. Starring alongside Ethan Hawke, the 15-year-old actor plays Charlie Sandin in the film, The Purge. We recently caught up with him to talk about his transition to the big screen, and what audiences can expect from the new thriller.

You’ve been so used to working on a television set. What was it like working on a film?
MAX BURKHOLDER:
It’s a lot different because you take a lot time to do the individual scene, which on television you have more of a schedule because you need to shoot it all in 8 days. But with a movie set, you get a lot more time to kind of work it all out—to work out all the kinks. Also, it was interesting to not play a character that was Max. I’ve been playing that part for so long, for quite a few years now. So that was refreshing.

What’s the film about?
The basic gist of it is that in America in figure 2022 there is one night a year where all crime and committing murder is legal. There’s a huge war and a bunch of political and economic problems so basically the government said that if people get out all their aggression then crime would go down.

Are you a fan of thrillers?
Yeah, I do like them. It’s right up my alley!

What was the audition process like?
It wasn’t any different from any other audition process. I got the script, I read it, and I went in there and I did it and then I guess they were impressed because they hired me!

How would you describe your character Charlie?
He’s sort of different from the rest of his family throughout the movie. He sees a stranger in his house and basically it comes down to making a decision to either have the stranger die or have himself die. My character Charlie is more of the moral compass. He doesn’t want to kill him because it’s so wrong, but while the rest of his family would want him killed.

Do you have a favorite scene from the project?
I think my favorite scene has got to be—even though it’s a thriller—is just with the family sitting around the table having a nice conversation. They show the family dynamic. I always love it because it’s before everything goes bad for this perfect family. You know, ‘Oh, something is going to happen. Something is going to happen!’ [Laughs]

Was filming this an easy transition from Parenthood?
I don’t think there would be many chances for me to do this. When I’m not on hiatus I don’t think that would be really easy. I do think that it turned out really well. I actually started shooting it the day after I finishedParenthood.