Maxim Swinton brings a bit of himself to every character

Photo Credit: Linda Kallerus/FX

Maxim Swinton is quickly becoming one of the most in-demand young talents in the entertainment industry today. We got to chat with him about his love of acting, his current projects, and learned some fun facts about country capitals.

Maxim can next be seen starring as Solly Fleishman in the FX limited series “Fleishman Is in Trouble” alongside Jesse Eisenberg, Claire Danes, Christian Slater, and Lizzy Caplan. Based on the 2019 novel by Taffy Brodesser-Akner, the series follows a Manhattan couple; Toby Fleishman (Eisenberg) and Rachel (Danes) who have recently gone through a messy divorce.  When Rachel disappears without notice, Toby must figure out how to balance raising the kids, dating again, and his career. Maxim shines as Solly, one of the Fleishman’s precocious children. 

In film, Maxim appears opposite Ewan McGregor and Ethan Hawke in “Raymond and Ray” for Apple TV+.  The film premiered at the 2022 Toronto International Film Festival and tells the story of the two half-brothers, played by McGregor and Hawke, respectively. When the duo’s terrible father passes away, they discover a chance to fully reinvent themselves, and escape his ever-present looming shadow that the duo had lived under their whole lives.  

Check out our interview with Maxim!

Photo credit: Justin Jay.
What inspired you to become an actor? 

Maxim: My mom always took me to commercial auditions and stuff. It was really really fun. Like, I remember one time, I had an alien up my nose and I had to walk up to my mom and say, “Mom, we need to go to the doctors.” It was really fun. And I think acting is kind of fun, because you don’t have to be yourself. You can be whoever you want to be. My family is full of actors, so I just kind of started it, and I’ve loved it ever since… My mom has been acting for 20 years and she’s really the person that got me to the level that I am at right now.

What is your dream role?

Maxim: Spider-Man as an opera singer so I can show off my love of singing. And also because Spider-Man is cool, and he gets to swing around. I’d rather be a kid Spider-Man. I wouldn’t want to be the adult Spider-Man because the adult version has to fight the adult Avengers.

You mentioned that you like to sing, what else do you like to do when you’re not acting?

Maxim: I love performing comedy, also climbing and math can be really fun. You don’t think those two work together, but actually they do. You kind of have to see the measurements and adjust your body to reach that far while climbing. I mean, it’s not really math, but I mean, it’s kind of like math. I really, really, really, really love reading. The reason I love reading so much is because it’s kind of acting but deconstructed. You don’t have the actors, but you have the characters’ first person perspective which is really fun. And also I love writing stories because you can kind of make whatever you want, like say, there once was a man named Maxim Swinton who had 50 heads and he was super strong. And you could say it was realistic fiction and based on true events because it says based on true events, it’s not saying it’s exactly right, but it seems partially right. I don’t know why I would want 50 heads, but it’s kind of cool. I can eat a lot of cake.

So you are currently in an FX limited series “Fleishman Is in Trouble,” can you just give me a little rundown of what the show is about?

Maxim: The show is about a divorced dad, whose kids get randomly dropped off and he tries to navigate life with an extra like, say 160 pound weight, assuming the average weight of a child is like 80 pounds. 

And who do you play in the show?

Maxim: I play Solly, a kind of cute kid but eccentric. He does his own thing. He learns whatever he wants to do. I mean, he’s learning about Einstein’s theory of general relativity at nine, which is crazy. I love Einstein’s theory of general relativity, because it’s proof that time travel is theoretically possible. I mean, to go faster than the speed of light, then you’d be going back in time because time slows down. I’m gonna stop the science talk now, but I love science. I love Solly’s curiosity and the fact that he just always searches for answers and loves making a good presentation.

And you are also in a movie that just came out, Raymond and Ray. Who do you play in that?

Maxim: I play Simon. He’s also very eccentric. He loves just like jumping around and having a good time and doing flips. I don’t want to say he had a short attention span, he doesn’t like doing one thing for too long.  

Do you bring yourself into both of these roles?

Maxim: Yes, definitely a lot. I think the way I’m like Simon is because I also love climbing and I also love doing front flips and stuff like that. And Solly, I love love, love math and quantum physics and stuff like that. And I really, I was just kind of playing myself but with like a little bit more shyness, I’d say.

With both of these projects, you work with really big names: Jesse Eisenberg, Lizzy Caplan, Ewan McGregor. What was it like working with all of them?

Maxim: I look up to all of them because they’re such great actors, like each of them are in some great things. Like Claire Danes was in Homeland and Jesse Eisenberg was in Social Network, which is one of my favorite movies. It was really cool to watch it because it was like telling the story about a really cool, kind of weird guy, also eccentric I’d say, Mark Zuckerberg. Ewan played Obi Wan Kenobi in Star Wars which is crazy. And Ethan is in Dead Poets Society which is one of the best movies of all time. So they are all around an excellent bunch. They’re the best actors I’ve ever met. And Jesse, actually, he loves geography and stuff like that, which may be surprising, but ask him about a country and he’ll know it’s capital, except for Papua New Guinea, he didn’t know it is Port Moresby, and Malaysia, he didn’t know it was Kuala Lumpur, otherwise he knows like every single capital of every single country. One time I even asked him the capital French Guiana. He said Paris which is not really correct, but partially correct. I give him partial credit on that one. The actual capital of French Guiana is Cayenne.

Well, you’re both a lot smarter than I am with that. So with working with all these big names, was there anything that you learned from them that you’re going to take with you?

Maxim: Yes, definitely. Ethan taught me that you should always go for what you think even if the director has a different thought or even if another person has a different thought. You should trust your gut, because maybe the director did something that you don’t agree with, you can say it and the director, of course, has the final call. The director could say, “no you’re wrong. Go back to your spot now.” But then again, they could also say, “maybe you’re right, let’s try that.” 

Well, that’s good advice.

Maxim: Also, Jesse taught me that you should always bring at least one drink to set. I remember one time, he didn’t have his coffee and he was really, really sad because he forgot to bring his coffee and he was really tired all day because I remember he got like six hours of sleep because this son kept waking up that night. So you always need to bring an energy drink to set, well not an energy drink, but a drink that will energize you. What I learned from Ewan is, he also taught me that you definitely need a drink, like the one thing almost every single actor I’ve ever seen, they always bring at least one drink to set. If you bring anything less than one drink, you’re not going to end up in a good place for the day. But Ewan brings his phone, his mini script and some coffee or tea and then he just stays on set for the whole day and then goes back. It’s really cool because you need like, well, I mean, as a kid, you have to bring your backpack to set and all that, but like it shows that you don’t really need a lot. All you need is your mind, your scripts and some coffee. 

I think you are full of trivia facts. Thank you all right. I think we are, we’re getting close to time. But is there anything else that you would like to say about your show or your movie?

Maxim: When “Fleishman” comes out, make sure to watch it, it’s on Hulu, which is pretty big. So just go on Hulu and you’ll have the show there. And also get Apple TV + and you’ll be able to watch Raymond and Ray. It’s a very good movie that you have to watch in one sitting because otherwise you might forget some plot points. So, make sure to watch it in one sitting. And also, make sure you listen to my Spotify, @MaximSwinton, because I released an album and it’s very good. It’s called Songs That Make Me Happy and has some of my favorite songs like New York State of Mind.

“Fleishman Is in Trouble” is now streaming on Hulu