He seems like an angel. He’s anything but. That’s Max Laszlo, the youngest Laszlo son and a key player in the drama that fuels Rogue. Rogue insider Ira Parker sat down with actor Matthew Beard to find out what makes Max tick and how Beard prepared for the role. Hint, classical music and dressing like a serial killer really helped.
Ira Parker: How would you describe your character?
Matthew Beard: Max is a deeply troubled young man. You’ve got Alec who is going to storm into a situation with a baseball bat and beat everyone up and then you’ve got Max who would rather talk things through. He seems a little bit more intellectually minded. A bit more switched on. He is the favorite son because Jimmy sees that quality in him – that he’s not going to rush into stupid things. The problem is he thinks too much. In fact Max’s intelligence is sort of Jimmy’s downfall because Max sees an opportunity to take over and become number one. Max has a real thirst for that, to become the kingpin. And that’s a quality his father didn’t see in him.
IP: How did you prepare for your role as Max?
MB: Well, see I had two different sides to it because for the first five episodes we see a very different Max than the Max revealed in episode six and seven. So, thankfully the scenes in the first five episodes were all me lying and acting and scheming, which is quite fun as an actor because that’s what I’m doing anyway. A lot of the other cast didn’t even realize what was going to happen and what I was going to do later on. So preparation-wise, I didn’t do that much. I ended up basing my entire look on an English serial killer from the 1960s named Ian Brady who is famous for the Moors Murders close to where I live in England. He had a very distinct grey suit. Had a very distinct famous mug shot of him when he was arrested. I just took that into makeup and costume and said, “I want to look like this.” And it worked out unbelievably because it was kinda what they had anyway. And Jimmy is all in black and Alec is all in black and Max is just a little bit off in the grey.
So it was really important for me to get the look right and then it was about deciding how he was going to sound. I had to work with the dialect coach and sort of pick a voice for him because I knew I wanted him to sound sort of soft and innocent. I remembered seeing The Assassination of Jesse James. Casey Affleck does this really odd croaky light voice in it and it’s really soft because he’s a coward supposedly, but then of course he’s the one who ends up doing the deed. So I stole that a little bit and just kind of chose a soft, weak voice. And then when he goes full on psycho towards the end there’s more intensity. Apart from that, I didn’t go around killing small animals or anything.
IP: What kind of books do you think Max reads?
MB: Like “Crime and Punishment”, “The Fountainhead”, all these books about incredibly selfish, scheming characters who are sort of obsessed with their own psychology.
IP: What part of his personality do you think is most like your own?
MB: Killing people. Ha ha. No. I guess, his duplicitousness. If that’s even a word.
IP: It is actually.
MB: How he revels in a good lie and a good scheme. I mean, probably if I wasn’t an actor I would end up being some kind of psychopath.
IP: They’re not always mutually exclusive.
MB: Ha ha. Maybe I am a psychopath, I’m not sure.
IP: As we sit alone in your trailer, that’s great. What kind of music does Max listen to?
MB: The first thing I do whenever I get a job is make a playlist for the character and listen to that all the time when I’m on set, when I’m traveling to work. Because I find music the easiest thing to immediately set me in the mood I need to be in. Making Max’s playlist was harder than most, but in the end it’s full of really grandiose classical stuff. There is “Lacrimosa” by Mozart in there and there’s “Bolero”, which was Ian Brady’s favorite song by way of classic music. There’s all this really big classical music that makes you feel like you’re in a movie and you are incredibly important, and when you walk it pushes your shoulders back and makes you feel bigger than everything else – Bigger than everyone else in the room, smarter than everyone else in the room, faster than everyone else in the room. I know that’s really what he is. Every room he walks into he knows more than everyone else in there. It did mean I had to pound classical music in my trailer. People were a little bit confused, but that’s okay.
IP: What was your favorite scene of the season?
MB: It has to be the one where Thandie is dragging me along that pier at 5 in the morning when we did that night shoot and I’m on my hands and knees and there are bits of gravel all in my hands. I couldn’t stop smiling, it was so much fun. Because it was a relief, I finally got to let the cat out of the bag and stop worrying, “are we giving this away? Is this coming out?” It didn’t matter anymore. I could just be Max, proper Max, the real Max that’s been hiding for all this time.
IP: Have you ever died on camera before?
MB: I’ve committed suicide on camera before, but I’ve never been killed on camera before. That was my first death and I think it was a good one. It was a good death. It’s going to be hard to beat. I don’t think I’m going to get to urinate all over someone’s face and then die again. I don’t think that’s ever going to come up again.
IP: Don’t say that. You’re young.
MB: Maybe I’ll get typecast. I’d hate that to be my niche in the market, the guy who just pisses on people. Because I don’t think there’s much work going around.
IP: How would Max want to be remembered?
MB: He’d just want to be remembered. He wouldn’t care how, I don’t think. I think he just wants to be remembered. And he does, they spend the next three episodes talking about him. It’s perfect. I actually sat in on episode 8’s read through, the one after I’ve died. And I loved it. My ego was huge by the end because all they did was talk about Max for a whole episode and how much they missed him and how great Max was. I’m like, “Yeah, yeah.” I loved it, there’s a bit of Max that’s still lingering in my brain, it’s like “This is great.”
IP: Do you have any last words for anyone? Jimmy, Alec, Grace, or even Fleming?
MB: Fleming, I love you. I always will ha ha. Jimmy, you should have seen it coming. Grace, good work, well done. You got me. Alec, it’s weird, he kind of really grows up here, doesn’t he? He starts off as this stupid cave man who walks around with his big stick, but he figures out that I’m playing him and I think I’d be quite impressed by that if I knew – if I’m in heaven watching down on all this. I think I’d say to Alec, “Well done, for sorting yourself out. It’s a shame it took you so long.”
IP: What’s the best and worst part about being on set?
MB: Best part is the team spirit. That’s amazing. How quickly and intensely you become close with all these people within a matter of weeks, especially the makeup girls and people who clean you up every morning and push you out there into the world. That’s really nice. And worst part, the time pressures I suppose. Like when you are doing a TV show, you can hear the ticking clock. You are constantly under pressure to deliver. But that’s any job, I suppose.
IP: You found out pretty early on that Max would die in episode seven. As things went along, did you make any pleas to the writers or the producers to not kill you off?
MB: At first I thought, you can’t kill Max because in The Godfather and Godfather II, they don’t kill Pacino off, they don’t kill the quiet one who doesn’t seem like he could take over the business. They kill off the guy that runs in with the big bat. I thought, “You’re doing this all wrong, it’s all backwards.” But then I started thinking he has to die. Someone that evil just has to go. And now I think it was the right decision. So I didn’t make many pleas. I let other people plea on my behalf. They have been very kind. Others tried to work out ways of not killing me or me coming back. Which is nice and fun to listen to, but unlikely.
IP: Godfather II…who knows…
MB: Yeah, maybe rather than looking at the Pacino angle, look at it from a Brando angle, come back as DeNiro. Well maybe, but I don’t know, we’ll see. I was happy for him to die though – he should die. And I love a good death, and I had a really good one.