From dancing with the East High Wildcats, to stirring up trouble in Genoa City, to being a hacker trapped under the dome, Max Ehrich has proved he can play just about any character.
Now Ehrich has joined Hulu’s original series The Path, taking on the role of Freddie Ridge. Freddie is a teenage heroin addict, whose parents send him to join the Meyerist movement to get clean. In exchange for his rehabilitation, Freddie’s father promises to make a large donation to the organization.But, in the latest episode, we see that Freddie might not be as serious about his recovery as everyone else.
I had the pleasure of talking with Max about his latest role, as well as his passion for his work and what advice he has for today’s youth.
So first, what attracted you to The Path and the character of Freddie Ridge?
The script. From the moment I read the script, I thought it was phenomenally written and the subject matter was something I wanted to be a part of. The cast is just incredible.
It’s definitely an incredible cast, what’s it like working with them?
It’s amazing because not only are they such gifted artists, but they are also just such kind, humble, grounded human beings. When I was in the trailer, Aaron Paul just walked up to me and started a conversation. He’s just super kind and down to earth. I’ve worked with a lot of people in the past and I’ve got to say [they’re] very, very, very grounded and kind once again, not to use the word ‘kind’ so many times, but it’s true.
I mean, you can never have too much kindness.
(laughs). Yeah! The industry is very interesting and you come around a lot of characters and it’s very rare to find people with such great talent, and such a big following, that are really just down to earth. It’s refreshing.
It sounds like a great setup. So how is Freddie different or similar to characters you’ve played in the past? He’s a pretty conflicted guy, he’s got some rough stuff going on.
Yeah, I don’t really relate to him that much because, you know, he’s a heroin addict and I’m not. (laughs) But I do like his style, at least in the first episode. It draws from Nirvanna and Pete Doherty and a bunch of rockstars and I think that style of clothing is cool, the whole rockstar look. But the actions are definitely not me.
It’s probably a good thing you don’t relate to him. But, in that sense, what are the biggest challenges you face in portraying him, making sure it’s believable and whatnot?
What I had to do was watch a lot of documentaries and films, and listen to a lot of dark music. Kind of do all the research I had to do so I can get in that mindset, and see the world through the eyes of an addict, and the manipulation and all that. Like in the last episode, he completely manipulates everyone, Michelle [Sarah Lane], my parents, he says he’s better, he’s changed and then next scene you find him in this crack den. He’s passed out, high.
Yeah, it’s some intense stuff.
It’s a very intense show, yeah.
Spinning off that, when we last saw Freddie, he’s fallen back into old ways and he’s in the crack den. So now, he’s off to Peru to get some help.
Yeah now they’re trying to get him out of there, so you’ll see in the next episode where his journey goes.
And Cal, played by Hugh Dancy, really didn’t want Freddie using the ayahuasca because the Meyerism movement could get in some legal trouble. Are we going to see any kind of repercussions from Freddie going to Peru to use the drug anyway to get some help?
Yeah, next episode is very interesting. Filming was a great experience for me. That will all be revealed very soon.
So your acting inspiration comes from actors like Leo DiCaprio and Johnny Depp, who’ve played some conflicted characters like Freddie, do you draw any inspiration from specific characters of theirs?
Leo played a heroin addict in The Basketball Diaries, so I actually watched that movie again. I mean I’m definitely not imitating, but it’s nice to see their portrayal of it.
Straying from The Path a little, you got your start in acting at age four. What inspired you to get involved?
I was seeing a production of The Wizard of Oz with my family at school and I just ran up on stage and wanted to perform. (laughs). And then at all the family gatherings, and I would go to sleep away camps every summer, I was in all the plays, all the performing arts camps, and I did all the community theater. I really wanted to be in the industry and be on Broadway and be in films. My parents wanted me to have a normal childhood, so I grew up in a small town in New Jersey. It was interesting because I was very outcasted because I was into the performing arts. I was really severely bullied, to the point that I told my parents I needed to transfer high schools, to a performing arts high school in New York City. That was the best thing I ever did, I’m so thankful my parents let me do that because from there, a whirlwind of opportunities opened up in my life that I never expected or dreamed up. So, it’s been quite an experience for me.
You’re 24 now, so my question there is where do you draw your inspiration to keep going?
I’ve only been in the industry since 16, so it’s only been eight years. But I think the trick to that is to work on things that inspire you at the moment. Like right now, music is my inspiration. I’ve been songwriting my whole life, so I’ve been wanting to do something with music and finally I’m back in L.A. for an extended amount of time so I’m working with Skrillex’s producers and Flo Rida’s producers, and so I’m doing another one of my passions and really just focusing on music at the moment.
Between music and acting, and I know you have a relationship, how do you balance everything?
I balance it with my friends and by just having fun. Like on days I don’t work or anything, I’m just a regular 24-year-old who tries to go to the beach all the time and go to the movies and have nice dinners with my girlfriend. Sometimes I just turn my phone off and do what I got to do. It’s really important for me to stay balanced. I go on a lot of hikes and do yoga and meditation, a lot of things that calm me.
So, you talked about putting out new music, you’re doing The Path, you’ve acted on stage, you do all these outdoor activities, it’s insane how much you do. I want to know, is there anything you really CAN’T do, that you wish you could?
(laughs) Probably play football.
That’s not what I was expecting!
Yeah, I can somewhat play basketball, baseball, and soccer, but football for whatever reason I’m just not good at.
To wrap things up, you mentioned being bullied early on because you were into the arts. If you now could give one piece of advice to young actors, what would it be? What do you want kids growing up in the arts to really know?
I just want people to find it within themselves to find compassion for those who do bully them. Know that people who hurt others, or bully them, are hurting deeply inside themselves or else they wouldn’t do something so insane. So my advice is to just keep strong and keep your friends close. Find that strength from within because you’ll never get that strength from other people, you need to search within yourself and just be kind to yourself.
The Path is now streaming on Hulu, with new episodes every Wednesday.