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HUMANS Q&A — Ivanno Jeremiah (Max)

Ivanno Jeremiah, who plays Max on AMC’s HUMANS, discusses why Max had to leave Leo behind, how he really feels about Hester, and how love drives Max to become a father figure to other Synths.

Q: Since Season 1, Max has always been the “most human” of the conscious Synths. Were you better positioned to help other cast members in Synth school adjusting to the movement of feeling machines?

A: Yeah, and it was really fun to share this language. The new cast are really good people. There were group classes and people contributed openly and we suggest things, so it’s an active thing and a language we developed. [For me] Max has the benefit of being one of the youngest, so I wanted the audience to feel like they were growing with him and that he was becoming more and more human and picking up cues – as you would, starting from a blank state – seeing others’ behaviors, experiencing humanity and how people do things. I think he’s earned himself freedom. I’d quite like to make him more and more free. Hopefully, the directors and I agree in the future. [Laughs]

Q: This season, Max and Leo instantly began seeking out Synths as they started waking up. Why do you think that work is so important to Max?

A: I think one of his most crucial philosophies is love, and almost every one of his actions is dictated from there. He’s going out and finding these lost, alone, new souls in a brave, new world full of humans, and in the previous season, he hasn’t always had the best experiences. You can see our active world through another prism, how we receive newness and how sometimes we’re not even able to reach out as we’d like to and connect. Max and Leo, in this way, have taken it upon themselves to collect and help these new Synths with consciousness adapt. There’s also the threat of a darker power in the world if we don’t save them.

Q: What do you think Max makes of Hester the longer he’s with her? 

A: I think in the way Max moves from love, he can see a broken machine a mile away. He doesn’t particularly meet it with animosity, but he can see the damage that Hester may have suffered and knows the influence of pain – which is not too dissimilar from the modern world. For a lot of people, a lot of your actions and experiences do tend to shape you. I think Max smells that in the air from the first meeting. He’s also suffering from quite a bit of tragedy having lost Ten – and Hester potentially being part of the reason.

Q: If Max sees Hester’s darker side, why doesn’t he try to sway her away from those impulses? 

A: You can only love and advise people to a certain extent and after that point, you can’t force the horse to drink the water. Also, there are other connections that we see sparking out between Leo and Hester and reasons why it’s not so easy and the lines get blurred.

Q: In Episode 4, Max makes the decision to leave Leo and Hester. How difficult is it for Max to walk away in that moment?

A: I think it’s possibly one of the most painful things he’s ever had to do in his conscious life. It’s someone he loves who isn’t really willing to listen to reason. Sometimes you’ve got to let people go and make their mistakes, but he’s always not too far.

Q: Is Max surprised or hurt that Leo actually lets him go? 

A: That’s part of it, and I think it’s quite telling of the place that Leo is in and maybe even the hold that Hester has over him.

Q: Max tells Leo, “I hope you don’t forget who you used to be.” Does he blame Leo for this rift or does he realize it’s Hester that has come between them?

A: It’s more so the latter and being aware of the risks that Hester could potentially provide. He decides that he’s not going to be a part of it and look after the rest of his Synth-kind. I think those are bigger responsibilities than pandering to his brother, his confidant and his best friend. He has bigger responsibilities than to spoon-feed him information that he should naturally know already.

Q: Max has reminded Leo that he’s not actually a Synth a couple times this season. Is there part of Max that questions Leo’s loyalty to Synths? Or is there another underlying reason that he calls out Leo’s difference?

A: How I imagine it in my head is we met a very teenaged Max in Season 1. This poor guy died and came back to life, suffered abuse and questioned his stance in the world. I think with all of these events… you can’t still be the same person. Max and Leo have been a family, but you do reach points where you’re not willing to compromise or watch your loved ones make these decisions. You grow up enough and see the world clearer than you have before. I think that’s partially what these statements are about. The thought process is that, regardless, Leo can still be a part of the other world and he hasn’t experienced everything Max has.

Q: This is the first time Max and Leo have been apart since Max was created to be Leo’s brother and playmate. What do you think it’s like for Max to be on his own for the first time?

A: I believe Max will always fall on his feet. As scared as he is and as painful as the separation is, he knows exactly where to channel his energy, and I think it’s purely about starting a family. He’s curious about the world and he’s still benevolent and has hope in people despite everything he’s learned. I think he deals with it in the best possible way to create, find and build more of an immediately family… He’s not calculative and his hope and optimism is just about showing the truth. He’s the kind of person who would turn the other cheek after a slap. [Laughs] I imagine him being a peaceful protester. It’s enough just to love. He has strength in numbers and togetherness, and if no one is going to look after the others, then he’s going to.

Q: Despite what he may be feeling, Max actually seems to be thriving on his own in Episode 5. Is he happy being a leader of this new group?

A: I think with being immersed in more responsibility and being surrounded by a loving family, Max has an opportunity to bloom. He flourishes in these circumstances with people that love, nurture, educate and strengthen. His heart always stays with his brother, his family, Mia and with everyone, but he becomes a father figure of his own.

Q: After completing two seasons of the show, has your own relationship with technology changed?

A: I’m a fan of dramas that hold up a mirror to the world we now live in… I love reading up on Elon Musk and his major contributions to technology, but it is becoming ever closer to us. It’s a world where we can speak to our nearest and dearest many miles away and, at the swipe of a finger, we can do all of our banking, and even in medicine, technology is something we can’t ignore. I think it’s a great platform for debate and a world we’ve created where we can access more immediate issues. It’s a lovely sci-fi platter in which we can talk about these things. I think the best kind of drama challenges. I think these are dramas we need to push for and say more about society, and not necessarily dictate, but discuss what’s going on in the modern world. Education and entertainment.

Read a Q&A with Will Tudor, who plays Odi.

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