How has Max found his time in the STC? Do you think he has had time to reflect and feel remorseful about what happened and his part in Alya’s stabbing?
Absolutely, I think the whole experience has been quite intense for Max, because it’s literally consisted of him looking back at everything he’s done, not just everything of late, but everything that’s happened in his life. Also everything that’s happened to him as well and he’s been a victim in many ways, certainly a victim of grooming. I think those things have really affected him and ultimately resulted in his incarceration and him looking back at all of the mistakes that he’s made. I think that the experience has changed him and I think that is why he is so sorry. It’s a result of deradicalisation and the realisation that he is a victim and yet he has done wrong and both of those things can be true. I think he is done with making excuses about his mistakes by saying that he’s had a difficult life. I think he understands that both of those things can be true, that he’s had a difficult life and yet he’s made mistakes. For years we’ve seen him making quite a lot of mistakes and now he’s facing them.
He’s had quite a tough time in there emotionally hasn’t he, so how does he feel when he’s told about his potential early release? Is it something he wants?
It’s not something he wants actually, I think he’s absolutely terrified. There are many reasons for this, one of them being the people who he’s grown up around now mostly actively hate him. Also what drives Max is family, he lost both his parents at a very young age and his entire life has been based around finding a family and having that family feeling. We’ve seen him search for friends in many ways and in prison he has found other prisoners, particularly Gav, and latched on to those people. Max doesn’t do well alone and now he’s found this routine, and this life in prison in the Security Training Center, he’s scared to go out into the outside world where nothing is stable and secure and routine. In there he knows exactly what time and when he’s going to do things, this also helps because he struggles with ADHD so to suddenly be thrown back out into the world where anything can happen is daunting. Of course he has had a really difficult time there, he’s been bullied, but sadly that’s all Max knows, he was bullied on the outside too.
How did you find it playing those scenes where David comes to try and talk Max round? Did you find that quite emotional?
I think it was quite dark. I also felt quite daunted because I wanted to do Max justice, particularly in the scenes leading up to it where Max is talking about his mental health. Then there’s his refusal to leave where he goes from being frustrated about a TV remote to almost having a breakdown. I think it was important for me to understand exactly where in that particular day he was and how daunting the prospect of seeing his family must be for Max.
Do you enjoy working with Jack and filming those scenes where they open up to each other?
I think that anything with David and Max is a really nice opportunity to explore that father, son relationship and see how much Max really does rely on his dad. I think they’re really integral scenes to the characters and to the Platt family, to see that relationship where Max is kind of mirroring David. I think Max finds comfort in the fact that David was once his age and made mistakes too. Working with Jack is brilliant. I really enjoy working with Jack because I trust him so much.
Being back on the street is going to be hard for Max, does he feel a sense of shame?
I think that’s a really difficult part of this. In prison he does feel like a criminal because he’s in an STC, but the other people there have done something wrong as well. When he comes out he knows he’s going to be singled out, he’s on his own and he’s there to be made an example of, particularly by Alya. He apologises to Alya in a letter and although he feels that his intentions are pure there’s a lot of shame in that. Also with his family, to be someone that they’re ashamed of is beyond humiliating, it’s devastating for Max.
How does Alya react to Max trying to right his wrongs, what sort of reaction does he get from her?
Alya is a victim of immense trauma and I think for Max to expect that a written apology is going to change that I think is quite indicative of how young he is and how unaware he is of the right action is take, which is what he’s been advised to do by the police, which is stay away. But I don’t think he can grasp that, he is so driven to do the right thing morally that he ends up doing the wrong thing.
Does it make him realise how hard it’s going to be adjusting back to his life on the street? And that maybe saying sorry isn’t going to be enough this time?
He’s always reverted to a childlike state of apologising profusely, for as long as I’ve played him we’ve seen Max do that every time he’s made a mistake. What’s interesting now is that numerous characters say to him it’s going to take a lot of work, it’s not going to happen overnight and that shows Max that what he needs to do is play the long game and not just apologise but use his actions to show people that he’s changed rather than just his words.
Are you looking forward to playing the long game and seeing Max’s road to recovery?
Yes I am, since Max was 15 we’ve seen him stealing wallets, doing silly things, and now he’s at a stage where he’s made some huge mistakes and really got himself into a lot of trouble. But we’re starting to see a side of him which is maturing and I’ve never seen that before in Max. We’re starting to see him grow up and I think for most people when they play a character in another TV show, you just play a little window of their life, but what’s amazing in a soap is the constant character development. You see people like Jack who has played David since he was a young child and seen his character develop into a parent and that’sa what is such a unique opportunity this show allows you to have, to develop your character and to mature them and to age them with time. I think that’s really cool and it’s really exciting.
Max’s cell mate Gav has asked him to track down his girlfriend Bec once he’s out, Max’s intentions are just to meet her and pass on the message, so what happens?
I absolutely think that when Max comes out he sees this as his first opportunity to do some good into the world and do something for his friend, who has been very kind to him and really taken him under his wing. Max wants to repay that favour and he wants to show that he’s changed and what better way to do that than to repay someone who’s been really good to him. So he goes and meets Bec she thinks Max is flirting with him, he’s really not, he’s just pushing Gav’s agenda and trying to make her warm to Gav again.
Does Max worry about how Gav will react if he found out what he was really in the STC for?
Gav is unaware of what Max did, he told Gav he was in for stealing a car. I think further down the line we will explore that avenue of them finding out about what Max has done and how that makes them feel. As people of colour they may feel like Max could be a threat to them, I guess it will depend if they’re informed by Max or hear it second hand.
Do you think Max is a totally reformed character or do you think the grooming and brainwashing he was subjected to could continue to impact on him if certain people come back into his life?
I can’t say what Max will do in his future but I think if anything is going to change him it’s been this experience. All of the things that Max did wrong before, of which there were many, for example, smashing Daniel’s apartment up, spiking Amy Barlow, countless other things like stealing, breaking into the barbers, for all of these things Max faced small or no consequences. This feels to me like the climax of it all, this has been prison time, this has been serious and that’s what’s going to change him. In the past we saw a lot of ‘if you carry on, something bad’s going to happen’ and it happened. So I think that will make him listen and be less dismissive of warnings. Throughout this storyline we heard Alya warn him, David, Shona and Gail, pretty much every adult but he wasn’t listening. It’s teenage nature to feel that you’re in control and I think with Max we’ve now seen those moments where he’s suddenly realised that he’s quite a vulnerable person. I think that Max is immensely vulnerable and quite sensitive. That vulnerability really comes out in those moments where he’s gone against his parents will, basically said I’m an adult, I’m going to do whatever I want, nothing can happen to me and then it has so I really do think that that’s what’s changed him.
Now Max is back on the street would you like to see him find love at some point? Do you think he’s due a relationship and some happiness?
Yeah, I would like to see him find love with someone who has good intentions for him, with someone who is not going to bring about danger for him. I’d like to see him find love with someone who can weather the storms with him rather than creating them.
Coronation Street continues to air Monday, Wednesday and Friday on ITV1 at 8pm