PopHorror Interviews Max Talisman, Star of ‘Super Dark Times’

After watching and reviewing the film Super Dark Times (my review here), I fell absolutely in love with the story and the characters in this dark coming of age story. When I got the chance to talk to Max Talisman, one of the four stars of the film, I jumped at the chance to pick his brain and find out what else he has going in. Come to find out, he’s got some pretty cool stuff coming down the pipeline. Check it out!

PopHorror: Hey, Max! Thanks for chatting with me today. Tell me, how long have you known that you wanted to be an actor?

Max Talisman: I have known that I’ve wanted to be an actor ever since I was three years old. My grandfather took me to see a Cats: The Musical that was playing downtown, and I was hooked. I was originally drawn to musical theater, but as I got older, my love for film and television grew and I knew that’s the screen is where I was meant to be.

PopHorror: What was your very first acting role?

Max Talisman: When I was eight years old, I played Gavroche in a high school production of Les Miserables. And then I started acting professionally in Washington D.C. Theater when I was in middle school. I’m from D.C., so my career was mostly based there until I entered high school, and then I tried to branch into the New York Theater and Film world.

PopHorror: A high school play when you were only eight? Nice! Your most recent role was as Daryl in the fantastic thriller Super Dark Times. Can you tell our readers a bit about the movie?

Max Talisman: Well, I can tell you that I didn’t read the script until I booked the role. And then as soon as I did, I fell so in love with it. It’s just such a good script, and now it’s become such a great movie. It’s really amazing to be in a movie that you really love. So the movie is about a group of friends who make a huge mistake and then how it affects them and where it takes them. I don’t want to give away anything, so I’ll just stick with that brief description. But it’s just such an incredible experience and I think everyone should watch it.

PopHorror: Daryl is a pretty typical awkward teenage boy. Can you relate to him in any way?

Max Talisman: Yes and no. I can relate to Daryl in the way that I always just say what I’m thinking. But unlike him, I definitely think before I speak. I think about the repercussions before I open my mouth. Daryl isn’t that calculated at all. But I think what appeals to me about Daryl is our differences more than our similarities. He’s a very different teenage boy than I was. More of a classic teenage boy than I was. He’s way more interested in boobs and porn and weed, whereas I didn’t really have much of an interest in any of those things in high school. I think Daryl is someone that I knew but not someone that I was. I knew boys like Daryl and I think we all did. I think we all had a kid in our class like him who we loved but also loved to hate.

PopHorror: What did you do to get into the mindset to play that part?

Max Talisman: It was such a good time! I mean, we had so much freedom on set. So I really just got to riff a lot and say whatever the hell I wanted. I really just tried to stay in a place of funny. I’m a naturally funny guy, but I just decided that there was nothing I could say that was too gross or too vulgar. And I sort of just let myself be Daryl for awhile and let me tell you, it was fucking liberating.

*Check out this video clip from the film to see a bit of what we’re talking about*

The hard scenes were the ones later on in the movie, when things aren’t so funny anymore. And to be honest, I don’t really have much of a memory of them. I sort of decided that I would let Daryl go to those dark and horrible and scary places, but I wouldn’t let Max go there. So there are chunks of filming where I basically blacked out because I just didn’t allow myself to go there. You can see on screen that Daryl does stuff, but I wasn’t really present in those moments. I’m just somewhere in the back pulling the strings of the body. But everything else that I’m going through is just the character reacting to what’s happening to him and how terrifying it is.

PopHorror: Dude, that’s intense. I had no idea how emotionally draining that must have been. On the other side of the coin, what was it like to see yourself as a dead body onscreen?

Max Talisman: I think it was a lot easier for me to watch it then for people who know me and love me. I knew exactly went into every shot and why it looked the way it did, and how much work it took to get there. But for instance, when my mom saw the movie at TriBeC,a she was crying because she was seeing her son bleed to death. And my friends had the same response. I think it’s a lot easier to be the dead body on the screen and be watching it, then to be someone who cares about the actor playing the dead body.

PopHorror: Yeah, you’re probably right. It’s one thing to know in advance that you’re going to see you son or friend getting killed onscreen, but it’s an entirely different deal to actually watch it. Nothing can prepare you for that. Let’s talk about something else. Do you keep in touch with any of the cast and crew?

The cast of ‘Super Dark Times’
Max Talisman: Yes! I keep in contact with a lot of them. Elizabeth Cappuccino, who plays Allison, is honestly one of my best friends now. We connected on set and we’ve been very close ever since. I would also do anything for Charlie Tahan, because I love that kid so much. And I keep in contact with Kevin, Ben and Luke. I talk to Ben all the time on Twitter. But I really think everyone who worked on this movie loved it so deeply. It meant a lot to them. And we all connected. I would work with all of them or any one of them again.

PopHorror: Do you have any projects coming up that you can talk about?

Max Talisman: Yes, I do! I recently just wrapped post-production on a pilot of a show that I wrote and starred in. It’s called Max Out and right now we’re just figuring out the next steps for it. I’m excited to see where it’ll go, and I think it has a very exciting future.

PopHorror: Sounds like you’ll be doing some work in front of and behind the camera. Were you excited to try on the writer’s hat for Max Out?

Max Talisman: Yes! I love writing. I’ve been writing ever since I was very young. I think it surprised me that when I started writing again and what I wanted to write was a sitcom, because when I was younger, the only things that interested me were dark and tragic stories. But my sitcom is neither of those things. I like to think my writing style is a mix of all of my favorite shows. It’s a hint of 30 Rock, with some Happy Endings in there, and then some Girls for good measure. I go for a lot of jokes. A LOT of jokes. But like I said, I’m really excited about this project and where it could go. I think that people will really respond to Max Out. I think it’s something that a lot of people would love and I’m extremely proud of it.
Max in his upcoming comedy series ‘Max Out’

PopHorror: Would you ever like to try directing or cinematography?

Max Talisman: I would love to try directing someday, but I’m not ready yet. I have a lot I have to learn. I’ve worked with amazing people, and it’s because of working with people like them that I know I’m not ready to direct. Maybe in a few years, but right now, I just love acting and I love writing. Directing is something I still need to grow into. But I’d love to try it when I feel ready.

PopHorror: If you could work with anyone in the industry, who would it be and why?

Max Talisman: This is a tough question. I think number one is Tina Fey. I would love to act in something she wrote. Or have her read my scripts and help me if she wanted to. I just love her so much. I respect her so much. And I think she would be an amazing teacher. So Tina, if you’re reading this, please contact me! Also, I would love to be in a Christopher Nolan movie. I mean, that’s just the dream. And I also would love to be in a James Wan horror movie. I have an incredible respect for what he does.

PopHorror: Since PopHorror is a horror site, I have to ask – are you a horror fan? What’s your favorite horror movie?

Max Talisman: I love horror movies. I love really well made horror movies, but I also love really awful horror movies. I think they’re both an art form in their own special way. I would say my favorite horror movies are The Conjuring (both 1 and 2) and The Descent. The first time I watched The Descent, I just couldn’t deal. I was so scared. But if you asked me what my favorite bad horror movie is, then it’s got to be The Gingerdead Man with Gary Busey. I mean, you don’t get better than that line, “Eat me, you punk bitch!” That’s just classic.

PopHorror: Fantastic choice1 I love the cheesiness of The Gingerdead Man! My last question… What’s your favorite Halloween candy?

Max Talisman: I really just love chocolate in general. It’s really bad, but I love it. But I guess if I had to pick one, it would be Reese’s Pumpkins, because I’m a classic man.

PopHorror: Thanks again for chatting with me, Max!

Be sure to check out Max Talisman in Super Dark Times and keep your eyes peeled for his new comedy, Max Out!

About Tracy Allen

As the co-owner and Editor-in-Chief of PopHorror.com, Tracy has learned a lot about independent horror films and the people who love them. Now an approved critic for Rotten Tomatoes, she hopes the masses will follow her reviews back to PopHorror and learn more about the creativity and uniqueness of indie horror movies.

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