Ivanno Jeremiah, who plays Max on AMC’s HUMANS, talks about welcoming new Synths to set, Max’s peaceful approach amid a revolution, and why he’s nice to his microwave.
Q: What was it like interacting with so many new conscious Synths this season?
A: The cast this season is startling. They’ve found the most amazing actors and movers. It’s great to see. A lot of the scenes we had in Season 1 and 2 were just among the immediate Elster family. Being surrounded by Max’s people was just a joy. It was like being released in the wild with like-minded, similarly designed individuals to learn with and teach and reason with. It was lovely. We played chess together and would doodle now and again. It was a very lively set. We were filming in a power station in Barking, London and it was an expansion from the end of last season. With the space, you could see that some of the Synths have been experimenting with art on these industrial walls. It was a great dichotomy.
Q: Max is beginning to form his own voice as he leads the Green-Eyed Synths in this new world. How would you describe the pressure on his shoulders?
A: The pressure is immense. Max was elected by the Synths in exile, so it wasn’t something he planned to be or grow into. He feels so much. Every circuit in his body is love and balance and morals. It’s hard enough to be balanced as an individual, but he has a responsibility now to them. It’s a difficult time for Max this season. He has their best interest at heart. He has to deal with trying to do what’s best for everyone in an all-encompassing sense. He’s working with the macro, but there are individuals who disagree with his points of view. Believing in the dream isn’t always easy. I spent quite a bit of time studying some of our leaders. Nelson Mandela came to me a lot – his decisions post Robben Island to go for peaceful protest, but having the responsibility and the whole of the community looking to him to solve the situation and sometimes having to make the unpopular choice for the greater good.
Q: What does Agnes represent to the story? How do Agnes and Max’s philosophies differ?
A: Another couple of leaders came to mind this season and, for me, an easy comparison was Martin Luther King Jr.’s stance versus Malcolm X’s. Both were under the same amount of oppression and pressure and pain and wanted a change, but it’s the means in which they were willing to go about getting it. Martin Luther King took a peaceful and noble stance that you could say could get all of the results without bloodshed or stooping to a level of evil or re-inflicting pain. He’s been respected for that, but it’s not an easy thing to do. It’s not easy to experience this kind of abuse and take it on the chin. Malcolm X was all about any means necessary. He was more responsive and combative. Agnes has felt the pain. In the news and media, which is one of our big themes this season, you only hear coverage about the human lives lost, but over a million conscious Synths were wiped out since Day Zero. So, her rage is understandable, but it’s not always the right response. In the bigger world, pain begets pain and evil begets evil.
Q: Is the aftermath of Day Zero starting to change Max’s mind about his peaceful approach or does it only make him even more determined to find the good in people?
A: Considering how big a heart he has, hearing one of the members of his collective and tribe making complaints and not being able to solve it is absolute torture for him. With all great leaders, it’s not just the immediate that you have to think of. It’s the bigger picture. Max’s heart is set on love. Despite these circumstances, he’s still fighting for that no matter what. He’s willing to overlook some of the current pain for future peace for everyone.
Q: Max loses Flash in this episode. How does he process this loss and grieve someone he really cared for?
A: Aw, man! Imagine the most loving man in the world loses his partner and the love of his life. It’s an injustice. When I read that, it really broke my heart. The thing about Max and this particular grief is that he’s so busy that I don’t think he’s even had a chance to stop. With the impending doom and the threat of extinction, he barely even gets a private moment to grieve. I just pray it doesn’t catch up to him. You do need time to grieve.
Q: Why does Max ultimately decide to take Leo off of life support in order to save another Synth?
A: This has been a point of contention. Some of the fans were very upset by this. I’d say to them, “Trust in Max. Remember that he’s still the same loving and dedicated brother to Leo he always has been.” This particular decision had to be made. The decision wasn’t malignant. He deeply loves Leo and he takes this gamble and he surely hopes it’s going to be for the best.
Q: Do you find yourself interacting with current technology — Siri, Alexa, etc. — any differently ?
A: I’m a pre-millennial. I’m an ‘80s baby. It’s ridiculous – the shift we’ve seen. The revolution is moving so fast. I remember not having a phone and now it’s becoming my banking system, my work. It’s becoming ever more reliable as we draw closer to the singularity. Now, we sleep with these appendages right next to us. I’m more cautious about being polite to my technology. I thank my microwave. [Laughs] I’m trying to stay on the good side so I don’t live to regret it!
Read an interview with Sam Vincent and Jonathan Brackley, co-creators and executive producers of HUMANS.
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