By Adam Rathe
Photography by Chris McPherson
Max Blum is a complex guy. He’s a scruffy, lazy sports fan with a mean streak. He’s a pigheaded friend who’s incapable of backing down from a stupid challenge. He’s tone-deaf when it comes to dating, but is a savant kisser capable of inspiring unrequited love from the ladies with a simple smooch. And thanks to actor Adam Pally, Max, a main character on ABC’s lauded comedy Happy Endings, is also the most relatable, offbeat, and compelling gay character on network television.
In the hands of 30-year-old Pally, Max isn’t just comic relief. He’s a beer-swilling, prank-playing, decidedly schlumpy everyman, but at the same time, he’s not just playing against type to teach us a lesson that not all gay guys sparkle. When Max becomes interested in bear culture, it means hibernating all winter, eating honey, and eventually straddling a unicycle. Yet it’s not entirely surprising when his all-guy Madonna cover band -- who go by the name Mandonna -- stage a reunion. You just can’t peg this dude.
For Pally, playing Max isn’t a matter of plotting the layers of his personality. His method is a bit simpler. “I just try to play him for the moment and make him as funny and real as possible,” he says. “If you start thinking about repercussions or stereotypes or ideas to break down, it stops being fun and it’s not pure. I try not to think about the end result.” Embodying Max is something that comes naturally to the actor. “There’s not a lot about Max that’s a stretch for me,” Pally says. “I am slovenly, I like sports, I drink too much, I have a gambling problem, and I’m highly competitive. And do I know someone like Max? Yeah. My best gay friends just got married, and in the middle of their big, lavish wedding they were telling us how they were moving to a better school district. I was like, ‘Wow, you’re really mature. In my mind, you guys are always just drinking or at the gym.’ ”