Max Harwood talks his groundbreaking queer character in Everybody's Talking About Jamie
The Disney musical will be released later this year.
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For his first professional acting job, 23-year-old Max Harwood sings a sweet tune in the Disney musical Everybody's Talking About Jamie, which will be released in 2021. EW spoke with the actor about his breakout role.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: This is your first film role. Not a bad start!
MAX HARWOOD: It's my first professional job in anything! Theater, film, TV. So, obviously, that comes with a lot of pressure. But it's been a bit of a crazy process. [For the audition] I didn't have an agent at the time, and I submitted via a self-tape for an open audition. And somehow managed to bag myself the role after about seven [rounds].
Jamie is an openly gay teen who devises a plan to come out as a drag queen at prom. I'd never really seen a studio movie with a lead character like this, so unapologetically himself. Did you feel the weight of that?
It's so brilliant that the film has got such a huge studio backing behind it, and it's so incredibly important to see. Because I live openly as a gay man in my own life, I didn't feel that pressure. We weren't telling a coming-out story. This is a story about a boy that wants to be a drag queen.
How did you connect to Jamie as a character?
Well, here's this 16-year-old boy who wants to be a drag queen. While shooting, there was a parallel there of me: It was my first job. And, you know, I've had a dream since a very young age of acting and entertaining. And I was on the journey of learning and growing in myself in the role. And we're both quite headstrong and know what we want.
Tell me about your first scene in drag in the film.
I hadn't done any drag before, so the most nerve-racking shoot for me was Jamie's [first] drag show. He does this crazy lip-synch and dance routine. And the whole first part of the movie sort of builds up to you seeing that moment. I just knew that I had to absolutely nail that. The day we shot that, it was my first full time in drag, and, on a big shoot day like that, I actually did have those first-show nerves. They spurred me on and spurred me through it, really.
How did you get into the mindset?
I love Drag Race. [Laughs] I watched Pose, lots of Drag Race, Paris Is Burning. It was a lot of in the mirror looking at my body, practicing lip-synchs to iconic pop songs. Getting my head in the game. I bought some makeup myself and tried to block my eyebrows out with glue, which is one of the hardest parts of drag makeup. I really had to delve into the world and get my fingers dirty.
So how do you move on from this as a first project?
I just want to be telling important stories for as long as possible. That's the aim and the plan.