Making his professional debut in West End’s Les Misérables, Max Robson has since had many roles across stage and screen, most recently as Dylan in Turn Up Charlie starring Idris Elba, released today on Netflix UK. Max’s stage roles have seen him star alongside Imelda Staunton in Gypsy and playing Adrian’s best friend, Nigel in the musical of The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole at the Menier Chocolate Factory. Catching up with Max earlier this week, we discuss his stage roles, recording for the Gypsy cast album and filming for Turn Up Charlie.
What was it like filming for your role in Turn Up Charlie alongside Idris Elba?
It was really cool! I was lucky because all of my scenes were with Idris Elba – he’s someone I really admire in the acting profession so it was amazing to watch him in action. He was really nice to me – took me aside before we filmed, explained what had been happening in the previous episodes, and read through our lines together.
Is there anything you can say about your character Dylan?
Dylan appears in episode three and is a street-wise boy, mature for his age – giving advice to Idris Elba’s character!
How long were you on set for this series?
I was supposed to be there for three days, but it finished sooner because the whole thing ran like clockwork! I’d have loved it to go on for longer because it was so much fun on set. I loved the food too! 😀
How was it playing Nigel in The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole?
This was a really hilarious part to play. Nigel is such a comedian! Pretty clueless but really funny. It was also funny to be in a show about growing up because we were, and are, going through all the same things – I had to pretend to shave in one of the scenes, whilst singing and dancing of course! I hadn’t realised just how much I’d like acting in a comedy until this show.
Did you know any cast members previously?
Yes, I knew Ilan and Ben from school when I was at Sylvia Young Theatre School. They were in the year above me. I also knew Lara from when we were all in Gypsy together in the West End, so that was good to see her again after almost two years.
Had you attended any shows at the Menier Chocolate Factory before performing there?
No, I’d never been there before, but it’s a fantastic little theatre and the talent that comes out of there is pretty awesome. I’ve been back since to watch shows though.
What’s the experience on set of a Walt Disney production like Artemis Fowl?
It was REALLY busy! I was only a small part in this, playing the part of a school kid, but it was exciting to get to go to a real film studio. It’s so clever how they make everything look so real and not like a prop or set at all!
We understand you were involved in the Gypsy cast recording, can you tell us more about this?
Yes, this was great because both teams of children got to record, whereas usually it’s only one team. So that was fun to all get to be together on this one for a change. It’s also cool to be singing on the same cast recording as Imelda Staunton!
How long were you in the production and where did you perform?
I starred as a Newsboy in Gypsy for nine months at the Savoy Theatre in the West End. There were only two teams for this because it was hard to find enough boys who could tap well AND sing at the same time, so it felt like we practically lived at the theatre during this time!
What do you remember about your professional debut as Gavroche in West End’s Les Misérables?
I was really excited and a little bit nervous – this was my first role in the West End, so it was all new. We only did two weeks of rehearsals, which doesn’t seem like long for such a big part, but everything runs so smoothly with Les Misérables that it was just right. I loved performing in this musical – I learnt so much and had the best time! It was definitely a moment that I’ll always remember, when I went out on stage in front of the audience for the first time.
Have you always had an interest in acting?
Yes, since I was about six years old. We lived in Dorset and I started going to a really good part-time theatre school called Swish of the Curtain on a Saturday which I really enjoyed. I did several shows with them and got the bug! Then, when we moved to Surrey, I started at Sylvia Young’s.
How do you prepare for a role and for getting into character?
Lots and lots of rehearsing is key! I also try to relate to the character by putting myself in their shoes and feel what they would be feeling.
Do you enjoy watching theatre shows as well as performing in them?
Absolutely! I actually go quite often with a lot of the kids who I was in Adrian Mole with – we recently went to see Come From Away, which was fantastic. We also saw Everybody’s Talking About Jamie, which we all loved! We just found out that Adrian Mole the Musical is going to be coming to the West End this summer, so we will definitely want to go and support this show!
How different is it being in a production with a predominantly young cast like Adrian Mole to productions such as Les Mis?
Both experiences are incredible. It’s great to be with other children of course, as it’s a lot of fun working and socialising with them and we all tend to stay good friends in the future. But it’s also really good with the adults because we learn so much from them after all their years in the business. Also, when you are mostly with adults, especially when you’re young, you get spoilt and made a big fuss of! I’ve enjoyed being part of every show that I’ve performed in so far.
What are your upcoming career plans?
Just to keep doing more and more acting! I’ve really loved doing musical theatre over the past few years and would definitely like to do more theatre in the future but at the moment, I’m concentrating on film and television work because I’ve really enjoyed my recent experiences. I want to keep learning more. There’s so much to look forward to, I’m excited to keep exploring new opportunities.
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