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Max Adler Talks Tenacity, Vietnam and His Character's Future on 'Glee'


First Posted: 07/21/2011 3:36 pm Updated: 09/19/2011 5:12 am

When HuffPost Celebrity gets "Glee's" Max Adler on the phone, we almost get distracted from the task at hand, talking instead about the new "Harry Potter" film. Adler is a big fan of the Potter books, but we have more important things to discuss, like Adler's summer plans, his charity work, mentoring the hopefuls on "The Glee Project" and how overwhelmed he's been at the positive response to his character on "Glee." HuffPost Celebrity has the sneaking suspicion that despite Adler playing closeted bully Dave Karofsky on "Glee," he's all Hufflepuff at heart.

What was it like mentoring The Glee Project?

It was great. The theme was tenacity and it focused on being able to deliver in your songs and your scenes. "Glee" can be chaos, and even when there are slushies being thrown all around you, you need to stay in your scene and in your character.

Is "The Glee Project" similar to what it's really like to shoot the show?

It's hard with both. With the show it's hard work and long hours but we have a blast. For the reality show they do all the same work and they don't even know if they're going to win, so the level of competitiveness is high. I was blown away by all the contestants. I didn't know what to expect but any of these kids could be on the show.

Does anyone on "The Glee Project" remind you of the current "Glee" cast?

There are similarities to everyone. You could compare a quality in somebody to someone on "Glee" -- I know when I was doing the project, the producers were talking about how people comparing Lindsey to Lea Michele; they're both beautiful brunettes with an amazing voice but they're different. Totally different people and totally different characters. I honestly think anybody on "The Glee Project" could fit in and wouldn't be doubling up on someone already in the cast.

Do you think any of the hopefuls would be good for scenes with Karofsky?

They're all really good, I don't know. I like Damien. He could be fun because he's got the foreign exchange idea everyone is kicking around. He's almost an outsider and the territory is kind of new to him, and that goes hand in hand to Karofsky: feeling like an outsider and feeling like you're the only one. In this whole sea of blue, you're the red. I feel like they could relate on that, but that's Damien in real life. I don't know what kind of character you could make for him. I know I've read a couple interviews where Ryan Murphy has said that even if people don't win, they could maybe come in as guest stars or smaller parts down the road. Win or lose doesn't mean that they're done forever.

What was you audition process like? Anything like "The Glee Project?"

Mine was much easier! I was just walking into an audition like any other. There's 30 guys in the room who look similar to you and I just did my thing and got an amazing response. In the room Robert Ulrich told me "you are our choice for this role." It was amazing. I wanted that role so bad and I wanted to be on Glee since I knew they were doing a show.

You were in Glee club in high school, did you have to sing at your audition?

I didn't. At that point it was just going to be a one-episode thing where I slushie Finn, so there was no singing required. I love to sing. I'd love to have a shot at that in the show, but it has to be right. There's no point to force it: it has to make sense in the storyline. It has to be the right moment where a song is the only way to express emotion. At that point I'd be happy to do it.

Do you have any idea about what's going to happen with your character next season.

Hmm, well...

Well, that you can tell us.

There's certain discussions, certain things back and forth, rumors I've heard, but nothing has been set in stone. Nothing a definite 100 percent go.

What do you want to see for Karofsky's storyline?

I could say it, but honestly whatever Ryan and Brad and anyone has written for the show and Karofsky so far has been really cool, and I never would have predicted that or guessed that and I've been a fan of everything they've written, so wherever they take them I think will be fascinating. I think the message of "Glee," the struggle for sex acceptance and embracing what makes you you, I think that would be an amazing lesson that Karofsky would need to learn and in turn a lot of the kids watching the show could benefit from that. Again, wherever they take him and whatever outcome he has I think will be a valuable lesson. I'm exciting to see where he goes.

Have you been able to see the rest of the cast since wrap?

I saw the cast in San Diego show on tour and I went backstage and hung out with all them and went out afterwards. I was blown away by the show. It's bigger and better and louder than I even anticipated. It was really cool.

What are you working on during the break?

Days after we wrapped I went to Michigan to shoot a movie, a comedy-horror called "Detention of the Dead." It has a John Hughes kind of flair: "Breakfast Club" meets "Zombieland," very interesting and stylized. I'm going back to Michigan in August to film my next movie, "AWOL." It's a Vietnam war movie, dealing with soldiers and the college kids back in America protesting. It's a really interesting look at what the media tells people to believe about war, and what the media was like then and what it is now. It's one of the best scripts I've read this year for a movie so I'm really thrilled.

What's your role?

I play one of the soldiers. Me, Liam Hemsworth, Austin Stowell, we all play soldiers. I don't want to say too much about the plot or what happens and who goes AWOL.

Did you do a lot of research for the part?

I have. I talked to my dad and a lot of his friends. Some of them went and some of them just told stories about the draft. The fascinating thing I learned, when I first got the script I thought, my character, he is very excited to be there and very pro war, but the more and more people I've talked to said that if you were excited to be there you weren't when you landed, or otherwise you didn't want to go. Rarely did someone jump at joy to go to Vietnam, and that was interesting because I feel like in my lifetime now everyone that is stationed is volunteer and they signed up for this. It's their duty and their honor and I have nothing but respect. I could never do something like that. But Vietnam wasn't a choice, it was a draft and I heard stories about people having their friends poke out their eardrum in one ear so they failed their test, or got drunk and cut off their trigger finger to avoid going over there. It was that extreme. You have to put that in perspective and bring the character to that level.

Any other plans? Your summer seems packed!

In between that I'm working with a muscular dystrophy association charity. My mom and my grandma had that, so I work with them, as well as The Trevor Project, a lot. After that I'm going to a big "Glee" convention in London with me and Kevin McHale and Harry Shum are going to go out there and meet a bunch of the fans, and then I'll do a vacation for a couple weeks. Then Glee season 3 remains to be seen.

You're active on Twitter and seem to have dedicated fans. What are they like?

Just the best, I know everyone says they have the best fans but I really feel like I do. They're so supportive, and they catch the smallest subtleties, either in life or in the role. You think "no one will ever catch this" but they do, they're so smart and in-tune. It's a great support system, when you're giving 110 percent to the character and in life and you see it coming back at you, people who actually vibe with you and get it. There's no better feeling in the world. And it's worldwide. I'm used to my friends and family, but you start getting tweets from Brazil and Ireland and Australia and Italy and it makes the world seem so much smaller, and we're all connected. It puts a lot in perspective, and they teach me as much as I try to put out there and teach them.

Any really unique stories about fans going the extra mile?

One random interview I said I like pistachios and chocolates chips for a snack, and now I get so many pistachios, and someone gave me ear-buds with one ear a pistachio and one a chocolate chip, it's so cool. But the really touching stuff is people write me letters, telling me they've come out and accepted themselves after watching the show. They'll make a YouTube thanking me, or Darren or Chris saying they're going go downstairs right then and tell their parents they're gay. I cry watching that, because it really is changing lives. I feel like all someone needs to do is start the trend, get the dominoes falling. I think people are afraid of getting judged and what people think of them or their sexuality and I think that's where "Glee" comes in and transcends just a TV show. It changes society and a national dialogue. There's new openness about it now that I don't think existed before the show. And it's been such an honor being a part of that storyline.

We read you didn't know that Karofsky was gay originally?

I had no clue, I didn't know until the script came to my door. I thought "wow, this is a more complex character now." I was glad, I wanted to sink my teeth into something and I had been playing around with something had to be going on with this guy to make him such a jerk all the time. And it was right around when all the bullying and suicides were front and center in the headlines, so it shined a light on bullies. My dad's a high school teacher and he says bullying has dropped in his school, that there's a whole new mentality on bullies now, that they're the losers.

Fans can catch Max Adler on "The Glee Project," Sunday night at 9 EST.

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