Recently, Talk Nerdy With Us had the pleasure of chatting with actor Max Lloyd-Jones. He is best known for The Sandlot 2, Restless Virgins and Scream. This Saturday, fans will see Max portray Jason Priestley and Brandon Walsh in Lifetime’s The Unauthorized Beverly Hills, 90210 Story. Keep reading to see what Max had to say about portraying someone as iconic as Jason.
What was your audition process like for The Unauthorized Beverly Hills, 90210 Story?
“I’ve been living in Los Angeles for a while, so I sent a tape up to the casting in Vancouver, whom I have worked with before. I think they had me in mind for the project, and I guess I fit the look enough that they could see a resemblance working out, so that just really kind of came from that. It wasn’t a very lengthy process. It was pretty fluid.”
Had you watched the series prior to getting Jason’s part, or did you watch it after getting the role?
“I watched it after, yeah. I grew up with like The O.C., that was my soap. (Laughs). I knew of the 90210 characters, but I wasn’t necessarily a fan. It was a little before my time. I didn’t really have TV, or watch TV much as a kid. My parents were kind of adamant about not doing that, so I didn’t really get to see the series until getting the job. Then I obviously binge-watched quite a bit. I saw the whole first, second and third season. I came to enjoy it. It comes up in my YouTube favorites now, just because I have watched it so much. (Laughs). It’s always reminding me it’s there.”
Do you have a favorite Brandon episode?
“I really love the pilot. I just love how he kind of takes the new world by storm, and he’s just such a very confident, self-assured young man. He tries to find his place in this new world when he’s coming from a very different one. I related to that. I mean, I’m from Vancouver, and I moved down to Los Angeles when I was twenty, so I understood the fish out of water feeling. I get trying to understand the tides of a new city.”
What was it like playing Jason and Brandon?
“It was fun! I mean I did more of the work as Jason. I had a couple Brandon scenes, which were fun to do too. I like the differences between them. I like finding the character differences in their lifestyles. Jason, I think made it very clear in his public life as well to be not seen as Brandon. He wanted to establish his own identity. I enjoyed finding that balance. Jason worked very well with others, and they loved him on the show, and he worked very hard, yet, of course he had a little more edge I think to him than his character Brandon. It was fun playing with that.”
Did you read Jason’s Memoir? What did you do to prepare for the role?
“I did. I loved it. I found it very fascinating. We have very similar histories. We both grew up in Vancouver, on the North Shore of Vancouver, actually. Which is funny enough. We started very young, at the same time, so I related a lot to that. I love his writing, and I love his positive outlook, and his transformation after his accident. I love how he feels very blessed to have had the life he had. It made me think of my life, and of the experiences I get to go through. It was an interesting, cathartic kind of exercise to do. I got to examine the acting life, and what it is, and put my trials and tribulations in perspective.
I read his book, and I had a very incredible research team, that helped us out on this project. They sent us a very lengthy, very detailed document with a huge amount of recorded press from all the actors and their lives, and their relationships, and marriages, and who they were seeing at the time, and their audition process. It was fantastic to have so much insight right away, because we went to camera quite quickly after jumping on the project. I was lucky to have that team behind us, helping us out.
How long did it take to film the movie?
“We did it in twenty-five days or so, twenty-six days, I think. Like four or five weeks.”
When we talked to Samantha, she said it was actually more fun and easier to play a real person, because of all the background information you were given. Do you agree with that, or do you think it’s easier to play an original character?
“I liked it! I think whenever you’re working on any character, you want to give yourself parameters. You want to give yourself a boundary of the person, of who they are, so you can play within it. You can experiment when you’ve found the character, that’s when you get to really play, and having a real life person already gave you these immediate parameters, and connects it to the truth that’s already established.
It was a new thing for me. It was a really fun jump into the world of playing a real life person. I felt some pressure; maybe pressure isn’t the right word. I wanted to live up to the fans’ expectations, and to do my best take on Jason, which ultimately I think comes down a lot to the personal actor. I think you’re never going to get entirely them, and you’re never going to be entirely you. It’s finding a fun balance in that where the audience can relate, yet you are still bringing yourself to the role. It was a really fun alchemy.”
Have you had any feedback from Jason about the role?
“No, I haven’t, no. I’m waiting on the edge of my seat for it. (Laughs). It would be interesting to hear. I know some people in the industry in Vancouver that know him, and they were in correspondence with him. He’s curious about how it’s going. He actually through an acquaintance that knew him, gave me his blessing. He thought I’d do great, and that I’d just follow the story that they give me, and essentially didn’t have a problem with it.”
How difficult was it to get the Minneapolis/Midwest accent?
“I think Jason, he has a very specific cadence to his voice. I found that was fun to work with, and to look at his archival footage, and look at his interviews, and look at how he communicated. I thought he was very straightforward. He was very okay with being quite outspoken about things, and having brought a texture and volume to his voice. I really enjoyed playing with that. I called the director when she first talked to me, Vanessa, and I just answered in my Jason’s voice, and talked to her for ten minutes or so. She’s like, “Oh, yeah, you sound kind of like him.” I was like, “Yeah. There you go. I’m glad you guys bought it.”(Laughs). Yeah, I don’t know, I think it was good. It was as close as I could get to him while still being myself.”
Now that you’ve done a biopic, who else would you love to portray? What real person?
“Maybe Abraham Lincoln? That’d be pretty cool. I don’t know, I haven’t really thought about that because I love history, so definitely a historical character. The generals are all quite old, so I have to wait my time for that to play someone like I don’t know, Churchill. (Laughs). I love mythological characters as well, so if they ever make a remake of Troy, there’s many characters I would enjoy playing in that. I think those projects come along when they come along, and if you’re lucky enough to get considered, and you look enough like the person, you know, maybe there’s a shot. I think it’s a blessing if you get to play any historical characters. Anyone’s lucky to get that. I was fortunate with this part. It was a very fun intro to that world.”
What’s one of your favorite TV shows that you would like Lifetime to make an Unauthorized Story of?
“I’m sure a lot of people have said this, but I think a Game of Thrones, behind the scenes … Oh you know what would be better? House of Cards. I think that would be amazing to see Kevin Spacey and a Robin Wright Unauthorized tale of what went on behind the, what goes on behind the … I’m sure it’s quite tame, but they could yuk it up into something exciting. (Laughs).”
Besides The Unauthorized Story of Beverly Hills, what else are you currently working on?
“I am doing a show for Hallmark at the moment called When Calls the Heart. It’s on deck for season three, so I’ll be joining them on that. I’m pretty sure, come the end of the month, I’ll start shooting again on that. That’s all that I can talk about at the moment. This year will be interesting!”
Since we are from Talk Nerdy With Us, what are some things that make you nerdy?
“Samantha did warn me of this question. I was like, “Oh no, what do I know?” (Laughs). You know what, the one thing, I remember I did a camping trip when I was young with a bunch of guys, and we did a whole day solo by yourself. You know to just go in the woods and be alone, and I couldn’t find ways to entertain myself, but I was a really big Lord of the Rings fan. I still am. I love it. The movies and the books. I drew an extremely detailed map of Middle Earth, which I think I still have, with as many parts as I could possibly remember. I remember showing it to everybody. Everybody else had literally just built little log cabins with sticks, and I made this big detailed map, so I think that was the nerdiest moment of my life.”
Watch this exclusive clip and tune into The Unauthorized Beverly Hills, 90210 Story on Lifetime October 3, at 8/7c.