Actress Max Reeves joins us on Close-Up Culture to discuss her upbringing, life in Los Angles, desert island movies, and much more.
You were born and raised in Russia. What was your upbringing like over there?
It must’ve been quite different from anything else, even compared to what it’s like over there now. When I was born the country was rapidly changing due to the Soviet Union collapse. Nobody knew what Russia was going to become. The country’s economy wasn’t just on the verge of collapse, it was actually collapsing. People had to lineup for hours to get access to basic goods, regardless of the amount of money they had. I do remember times when we literally had nothing to eat except for bread and mustard.
The only thing that we always had in abundance was books – courtesy of both my parent’s academic and medical background. It’s funny how some people assume that given my parents background we would’ve had a lavish lifestyle. Times were so different. I didn’t even have a room of my own until I was 14 – all three of us, alongside our dogs and cats, shared the same room for years.
Regardless of all the things I’ve just described, however, I remember my childhood years being carefree and happy for the most part. It’s only now that I realise what a tremendous amount of work it must have been for my parents to be able to create this kind of childhood for me during those dire times for the country.
When did you first come in contact with the arts and set your sights on becoming a performer?
I’ve been surrounded by the arts for as long as I can remember. My grandmother was the artistic heart of the family, being a musician and a piano teacher. My mother used to be a ballet dancer before a radical career switch into the field of bio chemistry. My dad did his fair share of theatre back in his school days.
I was a regular at the local theaters and opera houses since I was four or six. I got into a ballroom dance studio when I was 5, and developed a serious penchant for drawing and painting around the same age. And then came traveling, being exposed to the marvelous museums and architecture in Europe, and being so incredibly moved by it. Everything art related has always seem so fascinating to me. I think perhaps it might be this ability to create an interesting multi-dimensional fascinating world that is so much more enticing than your own…
How did the decision to move to Los Angeles come about?
I remember being around 6 and singing a song to my grandmother – giving a whole performance in her apartment as if I was on stage, pretending to sing a song in English when in fact it was just gibberish, when I told her after that I was going to live in Los Angeles. I don’t think I even really knew what Los Angeles was but it was more like a fact than a decision. Not “I want to” but “I’m going to”.
How did you find the transition to life, and performing, in LA?
There was no transition really, LA was where it all started. It has always felt like home more than my actual hometown. It’s nearly impossible to pursue an artistic career in my hometown, so LA was the place where I began figuring everything out from scratch. It’s a very challenging process and I’m still learning something every day, but it’s a place like no other in terms of opportunities. And then social media, of course, opened up a whole new set of ways to touch the hearts of so many people and connect with amazing artists from all over the world.
How are you finding life as a creative in LA at the moment, given everything going on in the world?
I think it’s been reinforced to all of us that it’s really important to be in charge of your own destiny, create your own stuff and pave your own path. There are definitely more opportunities out there now but there’s also way more competition. There’s no less demand but you really have to be on top of your game at all times.
One of the good things that came out of the pandemic is the abundance of many different classes anyone can take from any part of the world. I was able to study at RADA, for instance, without leaving my LA apartment.
You are a movie buff. What three films would you take with you to a desert island?
2001: Space Odyssey.
Some Like It Hot.
Can I cheat and pick Breaking Bad, too? I mean if I’m going to be stuck on a desert island, got to have something to binge on. If not, I’ll settle for Miyazaki’s Spirited Away.
Fantastic choices! You love to travel and are multi-lingual. If you could shoot a movie anywhere the world, where would it be?
Tuscany and Japan are top of my list. However, I’ll take any warm place.
I wrote a trip to Israel into one of my scripts that I’m trying to produce right now, and it would actually be nice to go there, reconnect with the roots and long lost family members.
What are your hopes and ambitions for the future?
Onwards and upwards. Study more, work more, and take everything to the next step. I hope we’re all able to return to normal pace of work on set safely soon. This is in regards to acting. In my work as a writer, I aspire to create compelling female characters that are inspiring to portray. I remember growing up I used to identify myself with primarily male characters in movies, just because of the way they were written. Female characters quite often felt more like a caricature. It’s definitely time to change that narrative.
Title image by @Tomdewh