Max Adler's life as a celebrity can be defined as Before the Kiss and After the Kiss. The kiss in question happened in November between his character on Glee, Dave Karofsky, and Kurt, the character played by Chris Colfer. The shock value wasn't so much that it was two young men kissing as that Adler's character had -- until that point -- tormented Kurt with anti-gay slurs. "That was a game changer," recalls Adler. "I had appeared on Glee but there was nothing big until Never Been Kissed. It was a big turning point."
Despite Adler portraying a bully of frightening proportions, viewers appear to have rallied around the closeted and confused Karofsky and the young actor who portrays him. They will be thrilled at the larger role he will play beginning on the April 19 show and for the next few weeks. Adler refuses to confirm the tweets of a Glee extra, who has revealed an upcoming plot twist, saying, "It's disappointing that there are real bullies out there who have to spoil other people's fun." All he will say is that Karofsky has an "important, meaty role" in the episode Born This Way.
Adler is rightfully proud to be a part of the hit series Glee with its cult-like following. "There's a lot of crap out there. You can sit in a theater for two hours and walk out unchanged. It's so rewarding to be involved in a show that inspires people and makes them think," he explains. "I hear from thousands of people who tell me their stories of being bullied or rejected. I soak it in and process it and reflect on it. Many people are hoping that Karofsky can learn to accept who he is."
Clearly, Adler has been able to make that leap in his own life. His childhood in Arizona was filled with successes -- Senior class vice president, National Honor Society, show choir, drama club and a solid 4.0 GPA. The show that influenced him most during those years was Saved By the Bell, he says sheepishly. "As a young boy, I thought they were all so cool. I learned about first kisses, acne, growing up."
As he graduated from high school, Max Adler knew that he was destined for Hollywood, and his parents didn't take much persuading. "They were all for it!" he says. "My mom told me I should go for it, and then she passed away weeks after that conversation." He moved to Los Angeles where he worked various jobs while auditioning for parts. "I wanted to honor my mom's ideas," he says. "And I knew that I had to go for my dreams while I could."
Max Adler says he missed out on many roles for various reasons but he never wavered in his dream. "I thought eventually someone would take me as I am because I'm okay with who I am." His biography shows roles in a variety of television shows and a few films. But nothing launched him into the stratosphere as much as being hired by legendary producer Ryan Murphy to slam members of the glee club into lockers and fling slushies at them. As for the future, Max Adler is hoping that the trajectory of his career will follow that of actors Ryan Gosling and James McAvoy. "I would see anything those two guys are in," he says.
He is determined to use his fame for good. He called the staff of the Muscular Dystrophy Association himself to ask if there were a role he could play in raising awareness and money for the organization. The answer, of course, was yes. Both Adler's mother and grandmother had a form of the disease, and he is trying to encourage a younger audience to care about it. He's also made a video for the It Gets Better Project which inspires hope for LGBT youth who are being bullied or harassed. And he's involved in Unlimited Justice, which is actively working to eliminate corporal punishment in America's schools.
Although busy with his burgeoning acting career and his dedication to social activism -- not to mention time spent interacting with fans on social media -- Max Adler confesses to a few guilty pleasures. "I love Celebrity Apprentice and The Bachelor and The Bachelorette," he confesses. But he says he may deny having said that if it appears in print, which is okay, as long as slushies aren't involved.
Follow Tamar Abrams on Twitter: www.twitter.com/Tamarabrams