“Things Like This” Star Max Talisman Tells All!

by | Apr 1, 2024

1. Max Talisman, take us back to the beginning. Before Things Like This, tell us when you first discovered your passion for acting?

When I was three years old my Saba (grandfather in Hebrew) took my sister and me to see Cats at the National Theater in DC. It was a magical night. The night felt alive. It was snowing, I think it was a blizzard. Before the show he took us to Old Ebbitt Grill and they had these giant Nutcrackers outside.

It’s crazy how even though I was so young I remember every detail because this night had ripple effects that have echoed my entire life.

It was seeing live theater that night that started my obsession with being a performer. It awoke something in me and it has never gone away. Everyday it burns brighter. I started acting on stage when I was 8, and then professionally when I was 12. I’ve never looked back.

2. Can you tell us a little about the upcoming film Things Like This?

Things Like This is a romantic comedy about two young gay men with the same name who fall in love. Fate seems to be bringing them together, but their insecurities and residual pain from being young gay people continues to hold them back.

We were able to assemble a cast that makes me gag, in the good gay way. We have Jackie Cruz, Charlie Tahan, Cara Buono, Bridget Regan, Nicholas Hamilton, and my incredible co-leading man Joey Pollari along with even more.

I have to say they all delivered beyond what words can express.

When people this talented and funny bring your words to life you just have to say thank you to the universe.

Things Like This Star Matt Talisman

Max Talisman. Photo Credit: Tommy Flanagan

3. What is it like to not only star in Things Like This, but also make your directorial and screenwriting debut with the film?

It was a dream come true – I know that sounds cliche – but it’s true! When I was a kid, I used to always say that I wanted to write, star and direct in my own shows on Broadway. The medium may have changed, but the vision remained the same.

I have a very specific point of view, so when we really started putting the pieces together for this movie, I talked to a few different directors. But the more I talked to other people, the more I felt the pull that I had to tell this story myself.

I began writing for myself because I did not see the roles I wanted to play reflected in the landscape of what I as a plus-sized actor was “allowed” to play. So I took the reins in an extreme way and pushed myself forward. I’m so grateful I did that because not only did it change my career, but it changed my life.

I’m so much more confident now after having made this movie.

I don’t doubt myself and whenever that inevitable imposter syndrome sneaks in I can tell him to fuck off!

4. What has been your favorite part about working as a director and screenwriter on the film?

My favorite part in doing both on the film was getting to tell the story from start to finish and ensuring that it was the film I wanted to make. Like it was my vision from the moment I started writing this story and creating this world. So seeing that through to the end just felt necessary.

5. Can you describe your writing process for the film and how the script evolved over time?

I wrote the first draft of the movie within five days. While I write I normally send new pages every day to a few trusted people including my brother, and a few of my best friends just so I can get a sense of if I’m heading in the right direction.

After I completed the first draft, I texted a bunch of my friends and the producer I work with, Buzz Koenig, and I scheduled a reading so I could hear it out loud. After the reading, it was clear that the film had legs…it just needed work. Over the next few years as we worked to produce the movie Buzz and I continuously met to edit the film and perfect the script.

I’m extremely grateful for that time, because it helped me not only form this project, but working with Buzz made me a better writer.

6. What inspired you to pursue the storyline for the film?

When I wrote the film, I was a single gay man in my twenties living in NYC, and that’s what inspired not only this film, but most of my writing. I was dating a lot and feeling so many of my insecurities, fears, and my overwhelming anxieties. I wasn’t allowing myself to fully fall for someone. That’s because I wasn’t seeing any content on screen that really dealt with that.

As a young millennial who is bordering on Gen-Z, I feel like everything we see around the world made us so cynical and scared to fall in love.

This was around the time that movies like Love, Simon and Alex Strangelove were being released. And while I loved both of those films it felt like the only content to still exist in a queer space were ones about high schoolers figuring out their sexuality.

I just felt like the story of what I was experiencing wasn’t being reflected on screen in any way.

And since that time we have luckily had a few more gay romantic comedies including Bros and Fire Island among others. To be clear, I have loved all of these movies and I am so grateful that queer content is growing both for both film and TV.

But there’s still a space where I don’t see myself reflected on screen and I don’t see the queer people in my life there either. So I’m excited to start filling that space with Things Like This and then hopefully whatever I am lucky enough to make next.

Things Like This Star Matt Talisman

Max Talisman. Photo Credit: Tommy Flanagan

7. What do you hope to convey in your acting role as Zach Anthony in the film?

I hope to convey the power in being a plus sized gay person. Someone who is confident and sure of who they are. And I hope I convey that when you’re brave enough to take a chance on love it only makes you stronger person.

8. How did the character develop over the course of filming?

I think any time you get to spend more time with your character it only helps develop them further. It helps with stuff like improv and adlibbing because you start to think as your character. The longer I spent with Zack Anthony the more I got to know him and then the more truthfully I can represent who he is.

9. In what ways do you hope the film’s message of love will resonate with the LGBTQ+ community and beyond? What impact do you hope the film will leave behind on audiences?

I really hope that this film’s message of love being a universal human experience. We all crave and desire will resonate with everyone who watches it. I hope the LGBTQ+ community feels especially represented. The journey of our two leads go on is portrayed in a very personal and visceral way.

What I’m proudest about with this movie is that I think it represents a love story that anyone can connect to, and I think everyone will walk out of watching the movie feeling like they have seen something that is extremely relatable to them.

“Things Like This” is an absolute crowd pleaser. I genuinely dare anyone to walk out of this film and not be in a good mood. And if you don’t walk out in a good mood I know some amazing therapists I can recommend!

10. Why do you think it is important to shed light on diverse stories in the entertainment industry?

I think it’s the most important thing we can do right now in the industry. Any time an underrepresented voice gets produced it has a huge audience and people post about it all the time.

I really hope that over the next few years studios, streamers and anyone who produces content understands the gravity of what it means to bring diverse voices to the forefront. When they do that it only expands their audience and increases their company’s relevancy.

11. Last question, Max, what do love and inclusivity mean to you and how do you hope these ideas take shape in your career?

Love and inclusivity are two of the most important factors in the journey that I want my career to take. I want to continue to tell stories that emphasize how deserving of love every single human being is; and, pushing for those unique voices as the storytellers.

Until our entertainment landscape truly represents the human landscape there is more work to do!

I will continue to tell stories that I want to tell and I will produce stories that I know are deeply important and essential. I look forward to working with so many creative people and getting to bring their stories to life.

Whether that’s as an actor, writer director, or producer. I think that’s why I want to have my hand in every part of the process. It’s so I can ensure that the most crucial stories are being told in the most dynamic ways.

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