Max Adler talks Tank on SWITCHED AT BIRTH – “I was fascinated, so I definitely wanted to play him”
An all new episode of SWITCHED AT BIRTH heads to ABC Family tonight at 8/7c, and to celebrate the ongoing story of Bay and Tank, and how exactly he fits in among the Bay and Emmett fans, I spent some time chatting with Max Adler (GLEE). He previewed for us what drew him to the role, if it was a conscious effort to NOT play a bully this time around, and what we can expect.
I have to say –I really like the energy that Tank is bring to SWITCHED AT BIRTH this season. The show has done little wrong over the seasons. What was it about him that brought you to the show?
Everything! I was a fan of the show because of what they’re doing. They’re exposing different sides of life. First of all, giving deaf actors an opportunity to act, which is great, and also showing the world, learning about sign language, and different sides of life that I don’t think people are exposed to on a daily basis. To so smartly tie everything in to these great story lines that are so grounded in reality and true to life, it’s a rare thing to hit right. SWITCHED AT BIRTH did it right, so I was a fan of the show. The role was awesome. It’s this very complex, multi-layered guy who is dealing with an internal conflict. He comes across as simple and uncomplicated to the outside world. I think, to himself, he’s not so uncomplicated and simple. There is a lot going on. He comes to a big fork in the road and I kind of wanted to explore that, and see where the writers will take him, and where I can take him, and see what this guy would do. One path takes you this way in life, and one path takes you that way. I was fascinated, so I definitely wanted to play him.
What I love about the show, and what ABCFamily does so well in general – the show feels natural. It feels like you know these people. New characters come in, and it feels like you already know them, which I think is why audiences have responded so well to you and new characters coming in.
Exactly! It’s very real. That’s why I give major props and credit, kudos to the writers. There are a lot of storylines going on, and a lot of characters, and I think each one resonates a lot of truth and honesty that people will connect with and identify with. I don’t even think people identify with just one or two storylines. They connect with everything, an experience. Loneliness, boredom, and fear – which guy to choose, which girl to choose, and I think everybody relates, it’s nice to see what the characters are going to do, and then you kind of hold the mirror up to yourself and ask what you would do, and how you would react in those situations. I think they do that really, really well.
Talking about relationships – Bay and Emmett have such a strong vocal fan base. But Tank is making a really good case for people to want to see her with someone else. Have fans been embracing you – what has been the reaction?
I think you said it – there are a lot of people that are very split. There are definitely people that want Bay and Emmett and are rooting for them. That’s what they know. That’s what they’re used to for a couple of years. There’s this new guy, Tank, and there’s really nothing wrong with him as far as anybody can see. He’s a good guy. He’s loyal, he’s trustworthy, he cares for Bay, he’s selfless. I think that’s pretty intriguing – you know Bay’s history, her love life, and this is exactly what, on paper, I think would be the thing to go to. This would be the guy who is not going to fool around or make you feel bad about yourself. I think logically, in your brain, Tank is the answer, but in the heart, and you can’t deny feelings you have for somebody, whether it’s right or wrong on paper, and that’s Bay’s struggle and Tank is going to have face that, or not, but obviously, he’s trying to win her over and do his thing.
What can you tease about what we’ll see in the next few episodes?
We have a fun dance episode – everyone gets to dance, and you see Tank doing a little line dance. As for the next few episodes, I will say that, I don’t think it’s smooth sailing for Tank and Bay. I think there are some ups and downs and rocky roads ahead. The finale is quite a cliffhanger. My jaw dropped when I read the last couple of pages. That will be pretty interesting, too. That will be one hell of a cliffhanger, so I’m interested for people to see that
Talking about how open and caring Tank has been, was it a conscious effort for you to go after a role like this, coming off of playing such a closed off, angry guy like Karofsky [on GLEE]? Was it conscious or did you just gravitate towards the writing?
I think it was both. I think it was more subconscious because I did gravitate towards it. I think as an actor, you want to play things we haven’t played before, explore different sides of our self, sides of society and the human condition. The character I played on GLEE was obviously very fulfilling, but it was a whole different side of myself and people that I had to dig into. This is a whole different ballgame, which I think is very appealing. To get to explore that side. That soft, tender, romantic, caring, sweet side that I hadn’t really gotten to play before. That was a really nice change of pace.
What’s it been like joining a cast like this, a few seasons in?
It’s the best! It’s the best experience I’ve had. I feel very lucky. From day one, everybody was so welcoming, and I really felt like I was an equal from day one. That goes for the cast, the crew, the writers, everyone. There’s no sense of entitlement, no arrogance or ego. Everyone is very excited to be living our dream, doing what we dreamed of, and getting to tell these stories. That’s a really nice familial kind of experience that I loved every second of being on set.
Why are you telling people that SWITCHED AT BIRTH is a show for them?
It’s funny – it reminds me of a show that I watched when I was a little younger called 7TH HEAVEN. It was a show that I sat with my whole family – my mom, dad, my little brother. We all watched, every week. We all identified with it. It kept all of our attention. It’s rare to find a show that captures such a large demographic. From people in middle school / high school, to parents or grandparents. Even now, my little brother watches it, my grandmother, who is 90, watches it. It’s that kind of show that I think everyone will find something to relate to. And I think that’s great, when an audience can connect in a truthful way. Compare their own lives against that of their characters – I think the show has done its job and I’m proud to be a part of it.
Another show we’ve talked about – GLEE – going into a 100th episode. Looking back on the pivotal role you played – do you stop and think about what Karofsky would be up to now?
That’s a tricky question. I prefer to not give an answer and let the audience and the people that connected with him, felt for him, come up with their own ending for him. That’s stronger, and more powerful. Let people have their own fairytale ending!
Do you have time to sit and watch TV? Do you have favorite shows?
I DVR a bunch of shows! Usually, Sundays are my day of rest and catching up. I do watch THE WALKING DEAD, I do watch MODERN FAMILY. GIRLS, EPISODES, and TRUE DETECTIVE is my best new discovery. Those are the ones I catch on a regular basis.
What else do you have coming up besides SWITCHED AT BIRTH?
A movie I shot in Austin called BELIEVE ME, which is a comedy about four college guys who start a fake Christian charity to pay their tuition money. That just got into the Dallas International Film Festival, so I’ll be going there at the beginning of April, to be there for the world premiere and we’ll see what happens with that. Another film I did called SAUGATUCK CURES. It’s in post-production now, they’re in the editing process. That will coming out later in the year. And that’s what’s going on! Otherwise, the next few months of SWITCHED AT BIRTH – we go back to filming that in April, the back 10.
I wondered if you’d come back after that cliffhanger you teased –
I don’t know how much yet, or how prevalent Tank will be, but I do know that Tank will be appearing in the back ten, definitely!