You know friends, I post a lot, but I interview only few, not since I don't like all the people I post about, but since I'm always scared when I do an interview that I'm not asking the right questions, that the interview will not represent in the right way the man and his dream... But I think that Max Rhyser's interview is FANTASTIC, and not since I asked the right questions, but since Max poured his heart in it. I can't, really I can't dismember the email he sent me with his answers to fill my questions since the email is perfect as it's, and so I'm happy to guest Max, and his heart:
"How did I decide upon New York and do I feel it is the right stop for me? Well, brace yourself...
I arrived at JFK on August 23rd, 2004. It was the rainiest August New York has ever seen. Despite being soaked to the bone, I was excited and ready to take on the world. Little did I know I was about to embark on the hardest week of my life!
I came to New York to do a Showcase in the hopes of attracting the attention of agents and casting directors - I was not so lucky. In fact none of us were... The United Council of Drama Schools in the UK had arranged a New York Showcase for the American students studying abroad, possessing a US passport I seized the opportunity. Unfortunately it was still a brand new endeavor and it failed miserably.
My last few months in London had been extremely successful. I graduated from Mountview Academy of Performing Arts a few months early to get out and work professionally. A very high-powered Agent, Dawn Sedgwick, had swooped me up after my final year Showcase in London and I began working in Fringe Theatre and immediately booked work on a BBC sitcom, MY HERO. Things were booming for me!
And so after the immediate and huge success in London, the failure of the New York Showcase was unbearable. As my week came to an end I knew I had to stay in New York! I wanted to prove to myself that I could make it. Going home would have been to easy! And so, I took my plane ticket and very cinematically ripped it in half!
My adventure began...
Fortunately I knew a few people in New York and so I couch-surfed for several months, then ended up subletting a few apartments, the craziest of which was the eleven person loft on the border of SOHO and ChinaTown. We often joked that we were like the REAL WORLD without the MTV funding.
I took every job that came my way. I worked as an assistant at a Fashion PR office by day and as a busboy by night. I became very caught up in New York life, the excitement, the opportunities, the "Life!" Within six months however I began to realize that although I was living a wonderful life I wasn't fulfilled. I missed acting and so my dream came back into action.
I had always been intrigued by MEISNER and so enrolled in the two year program at the William Esper Studio. I got new head shots and joined the First Look Theatre Co. And voila, the PR assistant by day and busboy by night started booking work! Various Off-Off Broadway shows, readings, student films and then RAZORTOOTH. Amazing! I was on a plane heading to Hollywood to shoot a film, a horror film, no less! I played an escaped convict in South East Florida, searching for freedom, saving some kids along the way, and eventually, I was eaten alive by a giant killer mutant eel! Life was GOOD!
I took the opportunity of being in LA to do some television work and earn my SAG (Screen Actors Guild) card.
So to answer your question... YES, New York is "the right stop for me!" Although my staying in New York was never the plan, and despite the hardship of my first week, New York is home. I have in fact never felt as at home anywhere else. They say New York is harsh and that you either love it or hate it. I LOVE IT! It's funny, deep down I have always felt like a New Yorker, now I am. And although it is nice to take a break from the city every now and then, I always come running back "HOME!"
I do however miss Europe and if I wasn't pursuing acting I could easily imagine myself returning to Paris and being an American in Paris, la vie en rose!
As far as California versus New York goes, I'm not so sure, Certainly two very different cities filled with very different people. I have a lot of actor friends who make the move to LA and within months or years come running back. There are a few, however, who love it and stay.
LA is film and television and New York is primarily stage... so LA is definitely going to happen somewhere down the line. I however want to make the move to LA with a very big job waiting for me when I arrive. It seems that to be a struggling actor is much more bearable in New York... there is such a HUGE amount of actors in LA that even finding a "money-job aka survival-job" is hard and competitive because there are millions of unemployed actors all competing for the same waitering, bartending, temping jobs.
I also just think I am much more of a New Yorker by nature and that LA would only suit me if it were to be accompanied with a mind-blowing acting job.
That being said there is much much less tv and film work in New York, although recent tax-breaks on filming in New York is starting to improve things, and as such, it is harder to secure work on the East coast.
New York is real, LA is shallow, I often hear, and I am much more interested in the real!
As far as a typical day in the life of Max goes, well, that's a tough one. Let me address your question regarding modeling before proceeding to my daily life...
I fell madly in love and moved to Montreal, Canada in pursuit of that love. Without working papers and without speaking French a la Quebecoise, acting was virtually impossible. I instantly secured an agent and manager, as a result of an audition I had my first week there but I would not be able to work without papers. And so, modeling seemed like the best way to make money and it was! I joined NEXT and booked a lot of work. It was pretty amazing and at every photo shoot I kind of felt like the star of a miniature film. When my pursuit of love ended I returned to New York, the city of supermodels... I signed with 'Q" which was amazing but was up against a lot of serious models and so despite the work I was getting I was spending too much time modeling and it didn't seem worth it! I discussed it with "Q" and they willingly released me from my contract...
Ok, so daily life, without modeling castings all day every day... Pretty crazy!
I wake up at the crack of dawn to meditate and exercise, anything from going for a jog to doing yoga or spending a couple of hours at the gym.
Then I try to sit down for a few hours and write.
Auditions are few and far between but as my resume increases so do the frequency of my auditions, work begets work and so I am always working! Always moving forward.
When I am working on a play, sometimes two plays simultaneously like this last July, I rehearse and rehearse, running from show to show, grabbing a bite somewhere along the way, and then crashing, exhausted after a loooooooong day, in bed.
I sometimes think of myself as Chekhov's eternal student as I am always studying. Acting is a craft, a muscle, it needs training and exercise and so I am always seeking to expand my knowledge, strengthen my craft, hone up on my skills and be the best I can be.
I am currently blessed to have Jennifer Gelfer as my acting mentor. She is an amazing and talented woman who has come to mean the world to me. She just started the Beverly Hills Playhouse New York, the East Coast division of the original Beverly Hills Playhouse started by Milton Katselas many years ago. It is there that I do MASTER SCENE STUDY.
I am also working with a very gifted man named Brad Calcaterra at The Studio exploring my inner demons and developing my one-man show in a class called RISK! It is AMAZING...
There are other workshops I do sporadically but these two classes are my main source of inspiration.
Friendships as well as family are very important to me. Unfortunately I am quite far from most of my family and so in an attempt to make my friends my family in New York, I always set aside a little time to make sure we see each other on a weekly basis.
And then of course I live in New York, there are always new exhibits, shows, films, galleries and restaurants (Huge fan of food!!!) opening up and I take advantage of that as much as I can, never enough, but I try!
Lastly, there is always the question of money and supporting oneself in a city like New York. I am very open to a wide array of work and so I take on a lot of different jobs when there is a slow month acting wise, the most common of which is bar tending. In New York we work for tips and so making a good drink and having a nice smile adds up very quickly and keeps the bank account flowing smoothly! Ah yes, the life of an actor.
And you're right, it is mostly not that simple. Living the life of an artist never is, and so we do things, jobs, as a means to an end. We work hard because we dream big!
They say the three most stressful experiences in life are moving home, breaking up with a partner, and looking for a new job. Unfortunately in acting, you are always looking for a new job! Even the super successful actors are always looking for their next project... Oy Vey!
Something I have begun to feel about acting is that you are always at the mercy of several people at once, the agent, the manager, the casting director, the director, the producer, the Network, there can be five rounds of auditions before you get the part... that is a lot of people you have to convince that you are the single best actor for the role!!!
Within that process I sometimes feel like I have no power, I get tired of selling myself sometimes, and that is why I have started writing and producing, taking back some control. I have always been a writer and it wont be long before I publish some of my work but now I am writing screen-plays, the first of which, TAKE MY HAND, will be completed shortly. Producing TAKE MY HAND will be the launch of my film company - very exciting indeed.
But for now my focus in on starting my own Theatre Company. Last year I had my producing debut with BURN THIS by Lanford Wilson in which I played Larry. At the start of 2010 my Theatre Company will launch with the Industry Staged Reading of THE TWILIGHT OF THE GOLDS in which I am playing David. My Theatre Company, the name of which I cannot yet reveal will aim to push the lines of comfortability, it will provoke and excite, it will question the way we, as humans, think and live our lives. I hope it will affect people and make them better, in some tiny way, perhaps some grand way, it will make them more tolerant of one another. I aim for a better world and want to contribute my life to achieving that.
So, yes, I am extremely busy with a lot of projects and working very hard at all of them. I love it and I could not be happier! I DO, therefore I HAVE, therefor I AM!
Ha Ha, wow, as for dream roles and collaborators, in truth, the list is endless but that is a very good question Elisa and one that I will sit down and think on long after this interview is finished. There are sooooomany amazing artists that i would love to work with but for now I will just say that I need to get on to TRUE BLOOD, and finally, live out my vampire fantasy, and bite some juicy necks!
My most recent bookings in film:
Heads and Tails
Mosaic of Scars
Too Much, Too Far, Too Soon (the film version is set to film this February!)
In an effort to prioritize my writing and producing career I have been turning down a lot of projects, you cannot do it all, well I probably could but not at the level of brilliance I seek to achieve in my work. Saying NO can be hard but often opens the possibility to say YES to something else.
Life is never easy but always exciting and I am incredibly grateful for everything I have. Gratitude is very powerful, and easily accessible to us all!
Of course I miss Europe, how can you not? And of course I miss my family - they are an incredible support and I am very blessed... but this is my life, I am seizing it by the horns and making my dreams become my reality... I like to say that I am not sacrificing one thing for another but rather committing to what is important in the now.
I will definitely stay in touch with you and keep you posted on what is going on with me. For now, and always, I send you love and light.
So friends, I was or not right in loving Max? I think this interview is not only a good insight in the life of a young man with ambition and heart (a perfect combination), but also a master piece on the life of so many young men out there. I will always cherish this post, I think it teached us a lot.
You can find Max at:
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