Max Records: King of the “Wild Things”

By Rebecca Pauley                                 

Max trudged through the dense forest, unaware of where he was. He ripped through the trees draped before him, the paws of his wolf costume getting caked with mud. The air was thick and dark, and he was squinting to see anything he could.

Finally, there was an opening in the trees and he scooted forward to see what was ahead of him. He saw moving shadows. Giant, moving, dark shadows all close to a crackling fire.  One shadow approached the fire and Max gasped, shocked by what he saw…

As kids, we use our imaginations to get us through confusing times. Every child has the gift of a vivid imagination, including Max. In “Where the Wild Things Are,” Max uses his imagination to help him through his own emotional bewilderment.  While watching the movie, you are made to believe that Max sailed to an unknown island in the middle of no where, and is crowned king of seven gigantic monsters, who, even though are a friendly bunch, portray the emotions that Max has to face.

I got the chance to interview the actor of this “king” of the Wild Things, Max Records and I realized that he is gifted with the great imagination and perseverance that his character has.

The movie was filmed in Melbourne, Australia. The set took a lot of imagination to create, with its picturesque sights and the monsters’ peculiar living areas.

According to Max, “It didn’t really feel like a set most of the time. It just felt like a bunch of guys playing with millions of dollars worth of equipment.”

It is hard to believe that these monsters were, in fact, not computer animated but men in costumes.

“It was great.  All the people in the costumes were these super tall Australian actors who had to for months beforehand watch tapes of the voice actors saying all these lines so they can see the motions and do all of the motions that the voice actors did in order to make it look really realistic,” Max explained.

In order to get into character before shooting, Max said that the director, Spike Jonze, would “try to get my attention and then make me laugh or get really freaked out…and during the course of the movie he learned how to swallow fire,” he related.

But that’s not all. It was an unusual set. The director also hired people to swallow swords and juggle chain saws.

”He often had the Wild Things have light saber sword fights off camera. And then he once sprayed the costume designer with a fire extinguisher!” Max remembered.

Max’s life off the set is no less imaginative. When I asked him about his hobbies, Max responded, “Me and my friends, we sometimes take PVC piping and then wrap it in mattress foam and duct tape and then have these big foam weapon battles.”

He also plays bass guitar and he’s inspired by the White Stripes and Jimmy Hendrix.

Max said he didn’t have that many similarities with his character, except “…similarities that any nine year old kid would have like wanting to go run around with a bunch of twelve foot tall things and building forts and having snowball fights and stuff.”

I asked Max about the most challenging scene to shoot in the movie, and he replied, “The most challenging scene would have to be when we shot the scene where I’m stuck in the stomach of the Wild Thing. We had to film those scenes three times due to set changes and every time it was just like putting on an extra twenty pounds…gross!… and not being able to breathe efficiently.”

This young rising star didn’t exactly “decide” to act in the first place.

“The way I got this part was through friends of friends,” Max relates. Somebody asked if I wanted to be in a small Portland music video and so I said sure…then one of Spike’s friends was on the set of the second one and he passed my name on and they asked if I wanted to audition so I thought why not, I’m never gonna get the part, but it sounds like fun.” 

Max got the chance to meet with Maurice Sendak, the author of one of America’s most beloved children’s stories, “Where the Wild Things Are”. I asked him about Mr. Sendak.

Max laughed and said, “Maurice is one of the funniest guys I’ve ever met. To all who don’t really know him on first sight they probably think he is the meanest, crankiest old man you would ever see. And then in actuality he’s the sweetest guy ever and has a great sense of humor.”

Max further recalls from the time he spent with Mr. Sendak that he is not afraid to reveal the child within him, such as drawing fun pictures with his friend’s son and (lightheartedly) claiming his were better. “He is pretty amazing,” Max exclaimed.
I asked him if he had any other careers in mind, and he said “Teaching…Social Studies and/or Science just because I like those subjects.”

Along with “Where the Wild Things Are” Max also acted in a very different style of movie, “Brother’s Bloom.”  “I got to play a very, very young con man and that was pretty great,” Max recalled.

Although this is only his second movie, Max Records has already grown into a great actor. “I guess I just like acting. I like being able to inhabit other people besides myself.” 

Max is just a regular preteen boy with an exciting imagination and determination. Already having acted in two movies, I can’t wait to see what he will do next. He is an inspiration to all kids who want to become actors, and he really shows that anything is possible. We will just have to wait and see what great things lay ahead for this young actor.

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