Interview with actors Charlie and Max Carver
Photography by Daniel Trese. Styling by Krista Figacz. Grooming by William Lemon. Images seen in the issue “Are You There Alone”
A What artist most influenced you growing up?
C That’s hard to say… I think the first thing I really responded to growing up was reading. So, books are sort of what got my imagination going and then plays and getting into the minds of different characters. (Pause) That’s a hard question!
We could start with music –
Ok, that helps! Well, music and visual arts definitely influenced my taste. The first CDs I bought were Alanis Morissette and Green Day. We always had the Eagles playing in the house. I feel like that’s representative, that there was an emotional thread of Alanis at that age and you know, that kind of punky at the time felt like edgy identification with Green Day and then this country western classic song writing from the eagles. That music is some of my first memories. I’d say my music taste has changed. (Laughs) But it was reading for me. My dad was a professor and my mom writes and is a big reader herself, so i was always picking up books and letting them take me off. We didn’t really grow up with TV and we were limited to one movie on a weekend and then two movies later on.
What did you dream about last night ? Do you remember your dreams?
I don’t know what I dreamed! (Laughs) I go through phases where I remember my dreams. There was a time where i would write them down. Oddly enough, I always end up in the same space. One room that is sort of like being inside a nautilus and the closer I get to the top of this house the more it sounds like the inside of a seashell. It sounds like it’s pretty but it’s terrifying.. and that’s when I wake up. The other one is this like giant children’s fort made out of sheets that I can’t get out of. So, who knows what the psychologists would say about those. But I’ve been having this dream lately where– I don’t really wear a necklace, and this is probably why — I have a souvenir that a friend gave me from Brazil, and I keep ripping it off in the middle of the night. So that’s my recurring dream.
What’s your favorite place to watch the sun rise?
I like being on top of a mountain. Because when you’re above it you really get to see it at the beginning, all the way through. I’m a nature boy.
Are you in LA?
I’m in LA. Yeah I’ve been back and forth for about two years, but at the beginning of this year I packed up shop and moved back out West.
And you like it?
I do, I’ve been in LA now for 9 years. I never thought I would end up here. It just seems like there’s this new dynamism in the city and every part of it feels like its own little country. Having lived elsewhere in the states and having traveled abroad, whenever I come back to LA I appreciate how unique it is as this kind of city-state. And I think it’s one of the most exciting places to be right now. So I’m glad to be back.
What are your morning rituals if you have any?
Starts with a cup of coffee and then I’ve been in the habit of free form writing for three pages every morning. I always check the news. I’m kind of a news junkie. I have a couple different sources I read through every morning.
Out of all the work you’ve done what was your favorite or one of your favorites to shoot and why?
Oh gosh, I guess one of my favorite things to shoot was the pilot episode of TheLeftovers. Just because working with Peter Berg- he had such a different style of direction. You couldn’t really tell if the cameras were really far away from the action and you couldn’t really tell if he was close or if he was wide or who he was on. There was a lot of improvisation where we’d go back and pick up the scene again to loosen everybody up. It was just very different from anything I’d ever done. I’d mainly worked in more standard TV before that where you’ve got a script and a set up and the action to cut is pretty straight forward. It was exciting to have an actors director on hand.
Tonally, The Leftovers is a little different from other things you’ve done– but you guys were kind of a ray of sunshine on that show character wise.
Yeah, it was so funny because I’d read the book well before the pilot went into development. It was a hot script going around town, and I read the pilot just to enjoy it and see what it was and completely missed that there were twins for the show. So then, when Max and I got called into the audition we took it upon ourselves to really put ourselves in the circumstances of the world and kind of got emotional about the departure. The audition process itself was a lot of improvisation. A lot of bizarre things happened in that room and we were under the impression that we were tonally very much in synch with everyone else. Then, the first day we got on set Pete and Damon (Lindelof) were like “Oh no, we like you guys. We like your energy as brothers and as these light hearted stoner dudes. Do that.” When we brought all of us this emotional baggage ready to do that. But it was so fun. I just had so much fun shooting that.
Do you guys ever have twin moments like the ones we read about, where you guys feel connected to each other when you’re not physically close?
I wouldn’t’ say we could read each others minds but there is almost like a 6th sense- almost like a sense of smell- where I can really easily pick up on what my brother is thinking. We know how to lift each other up or bring each other down very, very quickly. It’s a special bond. It’s weird, I don’t really know anything else. I have other siblings, but my relationship with them is different. I don’t know if there’s anything like being a twin.
Does working with your brother influence your performance at all?
You know, it definitely can. We’ve been lucky in that we’ve been able to work together and apart. I find that when I’m on my own I kind of its not to say I have a little more confidence but I know I have no one else to rely upon. When I work with my brother we can really sense opportunities to kind of whisper in each others ear and say like: “try this the time.” Both are great. I think now too we’ve been working together for so long that we’ve started to enjoy each others company on set more than anything
So for you when you’re working alone what is the most powerful part of acting?
My favorite part of acting is when you’re relaxed and in a place of trust with the material and everyone around you and you become this kind of conduit for the story and the emotional ride that a character is living through. So, when this is happening to you in the present tense as opposed to feeling like you have to show it somehow and you can repeat the same scene over and over and have a rich experience every time it’s pretty incredible. it feels like empathetic time travel.
What are your dream roles? Do you have something you’re jonesing to do?
There are a couple things I’ve been jonesing to do. I would love to do a war movie. I would love to do some more action, just because it’s so much fun to shoot. I love a good bio-pic or drama or something more serious in tone. At the same time, I enjoy watching movies that transport you somewhere else. You asked earlier about formative influences when i was a kid, and I had nightmares forever about Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom and something stuck with me there- these grand adventures, they’re pretty awesome. What roles do I have my eyes on? I think I’m interested in challenging myself at this point and I’d love to take on something meatier, like a bigger part, and really have to transform physically or with a different way of speaking or a different rhythm or something a little farther from myself. Although, I guess, you’ve always got to bring yourself to the table.
Do you have any desires to work in other capacities in entertainment?
I do and I have been. I’ve always been pretty versatile and interested in many areas so. I write; whether that’s screenplays or teleplays or short stories or poetry. That’s something I have more time to enjoy right now, which is great. I’d love to get into the producing game just because I’m a pretty visual person. I’d love to have a hand in developing and creating the look and feel of a world. And yeah, I’m trying to make headway in those areas. It’s new and it’s fun.
Can you tell us a little about any of your upcoming projects?
We did Fist Fight, which was a blast. That was a chance for me to get to do something different and try on a new hat. Then, after that, Max and I had the chance to do a pretty faithful adaptation of A Midsummer Night’s Dream with some incredible actors. I’m excited to see how that turns out, because that was also such a great experience and was in stark contrast to the shenanigans on the set of Fist Fight. And then, I’ve heard that a movie I shot last year with James Franco and Zachary Quinto called I Am Michael is getting released. So, I’m excited that people will get to see that, because that project meant a lot to me and getting to work with those guys was such a privilege. The director and I have become friends because of our experience together. It was one of the highlights of my time in this business.
A Where are you exactly are you in LA?
M Yeah, I live out in Pasadena. It’s pretty boring. I feel like an old man at the end of his life.
What artist most influenced you when you were growing up?
That’s a tricky one. You’re talking any painters, writers, actors? Anything right?
Yep. Want me to narrow it down? How about music?
Well, I had older brothers. To be honest, it was the Beastie Boys. That was like my favorite when I was a little kid. I had posters on the walls. I think I just wanted to impress my older brothers. They used to play this game where they would play music and then stop and freeze and it would always be to like a Beastie Boys song and you had to stop at the right song. We’re talking super young.
What about actors?
Oh goodness. Well aside from my older brother (laughs). To be honest, I was such a huge Tom Cruise fan when I was a kid. My favorite movies were like, and we’re talking young here – Top Gun, Days of Thunder I think I had every Tom Cruise VHS. So yeah, in terms of right off the bat, he was a legend. I’d like to say my taste has matured a bit but, Top Gun is still a great movie.
What did you dream about last night? Do you dream?
Oh god, I dreamed there was a knock on the door and I had to wake up super early because there were movers here… (Laughs) No, um. I don’t actually remember my dreams that often. The most recent dream I had, the only part I remember was crawling around in this under ground cave and I was following this guide and at one point I felt a snake slither by my arms and he grabbed it and ate it. But it slithered into his mouth and he ate it. And I was like that sounds like some mythological stuff going on in my brain right now. No idea what it means.
What’s your favorite place to watch the sun rise?
There was this one time I went out into Death Valley by myself for like four or five days. It was terrifying. I remember, it was this time of year, and it’s pretty rare but every once in a while there’s a wild flower bloom… Did not see that. It was dead. There was nothing going on. But I distinctly remember that feeling of being in the most empty space on the planet. The park was actually closed when I was there and wasn’t supposed to be. It was very magical and lonely. I will never forget that moment.
Why were you out there for five days by yourself?
Yeah, that’s a longer story… A friend of mine hooked me up with this Shaman.. No peyote was involved. In retrospect, that would’ve been cooler.
What are your morning rituals if you have any?
I mean there are some things I aspire to do in the morning. Typically, I like walking. So I’ll just walk down the street get a cold brew and a pastry every morning. And then day to day, it’s just so different every day. I’ve thought about writing and meditating… With like headspace on my phone. But in terms of consistent routine, it’s take a shower, cold brew.
Out of all the work you’ve done, what was your favorite or one of your favorite scenes to shoot and why?
When I first got started, I didn’t think I’d be working for much longer. (Laughs) I will never forget my first day on set on Desperate Housewives, it was the first time I ever acted. In terms of memorable things, there was a moment in Teen Wolf that I got to do with my brother where my character died. That was pretty magical to shoot, because we just went for it. It was really cool. It’s imaginary and foreign, but it felt very real to say goodbye to my brother. It felt like a privilege to get to do that.
Does working with your brother influence your performance at all?
Big time. We’re better off alone. I mean, we work together a lot… And it’s great in a lot of ways. We take it for granted because we’re twins, sometimes we’re Cain and Able on set. We help each other out and we try to encourage each other but at the same time, I think, that voice in your head that’s a complete dick – if it was your friend you’d be like I don’t want to be your friend anymore – that’s sometimes how we treat each other on set. It’s a mix of encouragement and also there’s no one I want to be more proud of me than my brother. So, there’s some pressure there.
Do you guys ever have twin moments? Where you feel connected at times you’re not psychically close?
Yeah, you know, it’s funny. People ask that. In some ways, the best way I can describe it is when you’re thinking about someone and you’re like “God, I wonder how they’re doing” and then, you get a call from them five minutes later. Or, you get this sense you need to check in with someone who you haven’t heard from that in a while… Whatever it is. Who knows where those things come from. With my brother, that happens quite frequently. Since we were kids, there’s just this rhythm in terms of when and how we communicate. Who knows how conscious all this stuff is. For sure, when somethings going wrong, I know it before I get the call. I get this weird vibe.
What is the most powerful part of acting for you? Has it changed at all? Do you find yourself stuck in the same experience?
I think what I’m learning is it comes down to every single job, whether its in class or on set, what you put in you take out of it. The most rewarding times have been when I’ve put in a lot of work into something, and it just feels like you don’t have to work. It feels real. You’re not doing anything, you’re not pushing, you’re just having this conversation that’s personal, it feels like real life. Going back to that scene with my brother, in Teen Wolf, that was one of those moments. It’s the best feeling in the world, because you don’t care what it looked like or how it was, maybe later you do obviously, but you’re just like, “Wow I put it out there and I had this experience.” Even though it’s not my real life, I had this life experience. I want to have more of those. And I know it takes a lot of work to do that. It’s scary, but I know that’s the best.
Do you have any interest in working in other fields within Entertainment? Like directing or writing?
You know, when I was a kid I wasn’t really allowed to watch TV. I only got to watch TV three hours a week. It was books and go outside. Those three house were precious to me. Even from a young age, I always wanted to tell stories. I always wanted to write and direct. And now, working in the business, I want to produce and on some level change people’s belief systems.. I think it has that ability. I definitely want to be a part of that behind the camera.
So can you tell us a little more about your upcoming projects?
So my brother and I worked on Fist Fight and we got a chance to be a part of this great adaptation of A Midsummer Night’s Dream with some amazing actors, who were well versed in Shakespeare and there we were… Right now in terms of production stuff and writing stuff, that’s kind of what’s moving. I wish I could say more, but I’m excited for what lies ahead.
Do you prefer comedic roles? Or do you feel like you shine in more dramatic settings like The Leftovers
What’s funny about The Leftovers is that we got there.. We went through this brutal process with Peter Berg, where he’s asking these very, very difficult questions and you have to be absolutely honest and authentic about everything you’re saying. So when we got there, we thought we were going to have this crazy backstory and dealing with some trauma and he was just like, Nah, you guys just have fun. It kind of felt more like a comedy for us. And then this summer I did this project with Jonathon Stern, I don’t know what the title is anymore it changes.. I think it’s like Filthy Preppy Teens .. And that was so much fun. I go to improv shows, I go to comedy shows. On some level, it’s about what is going to be the most free experience. In my own life, I’m not the most dramatic masturbatory person. So comedy might be a little more fun for me.