Ten years of acting has made for a robust resume for 17-year-old Maxwell Ross. He’s built up his career from local commercials to the big screen culminating in roles in films in theatres this summer: Tag with Jeremy Renner and Jon Hamm (now in theatres) and Night School with Kevin Hart (releasing in September). Along the way, he attended Homewood Middle School before he started home schooling, and he was sure to be in town to go to HHS’s prom this spring with friends. Now the fresh high school grad is planning a move to Los Angeles for school (to possibly add a physics major to his expertise) and be close to more acting opportunities—but not before chatting with us over O’Henry’s coffees.
What were some of your first experiences in front of the camera?
I was the little kid with freckles and spiky hair, so I did more modeling at first. Then I got smaller commercials. My favorite commercial I’ve ever done was for this amusement park in Georgia where we just got to be followed around all day go wherever we wanted. I was 7, so this was the best. I built my way from there. I remember enjoying being on set, so I wasn’t thinking about it as a career but more of a fun hobby. When I was first getting into it, I liked getting all the attention, but now it’s for the passion.
What roles do you enjoy playing?
I like any role that allows me to free to make decisions. I did this summer movie camp out in L.A.. It was one that was post-apocalyptic with no parents and gangs of kids running around, and I was one of the main villains. That was a lot of fun because I could be crazy and make my own weird choices, and I had a fight scene. Usually bully scenes allow for that openness.
What was it like working on Tag with Jeremy Rennder?
On the set of Tag, Jeremy was coming back for another shot, and it was convenient for me because I play the younger version of him. I was going to stay however long to meet him. When I met him, he was super cool. Usually you’re intimidated from thinking about it, but when you meet them, they’re super inviting and really warm. Our character Jerry is the one who’s never been tagged ever while playing the game. He’s nimble, athletic, and kind of like Sherlock Holmes in that he understands his surroundings and how to manipulate everybody around him. He’s like the Robert Downey Jr. Sherlock Holmes where he slows down time like that. Whenever I met Jeremy, we went over certain things so that I could make it clear that we are the same character.
Do you know how much screen time your roles will get in advance?
It’s so delicate whether or not a scene will get cut. You have to be careful on how boastful you are, and you’ve got to be ready to be disappointed. You still get paid, but that’s not the point. When you’re first starting, 10 seconds of screen time doesn’t seem like a lot, but it’s 10 seconds of time in front of casting directors.
What type of movie do you want to be in someday?
Anything with superpowers would be a lot of fun to film. People tell me I look like a vampire, so I feel like that would be fun to do too. I’m transparent pale, so I think it would work. I was such a huge fan of Nightwing, Robin’s alter ego. I remember when I was little thinking he was so cool, so for nostalgia’s sake, that would be an awesome role.