According to the Australian-born, American actor Maximilian “Max” Osinski, diving into why a character is the way they are and what makes a human being are parts about acting that he enjoys and loves the most.
“Performance is also a big part of the joy, but I think if one doesn’t enjoy the work, you end up chasing a different reward,” he says about how he fell in love with the work and the craft of acting. Of course, Osinski is not new to the industry. In fact, he has more than a decade of experience under his belt. His track record includes appearing as Agent James Davis on “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D” and guest-starring in “Shameless,” “New Amsterdam” as well as “MacGyver,” among others.
At the moment, Osinski is primarily known for being part of the highly anticipated second season of “The Walking Dead: World Beyond,” the second stand-alone series in AMC’s “The Walking Dead” franchise, as Dennis, a once dedicated and disciplined soldier who is now trying to pick up the pieces of his life. And now, we try to pick up bits and pieces of Osinski’s life story.
DAMAN: Hi Max, awesome to have you with us. How are you?
Maximilian Osinski: It’s a pleasure to be with you! Things have been great. I’m very lucky.
DAMAN: Correct us if we’re wrong, you began your acting career roughly in 2009, right? Tell us more about those early days…
Maximilian Osinski: Actually, I started it professionally back in 2007 after graduating from Syracuse University Drama program. It was an exciting time for me starting out in New York City. I got signed by a wonderful manager and began auditioning right away. My first job was an indie movie with the legendary Louis Zorich titled “Running Funny.”
Shortly after that, I got my first studio feature titled “The Express” opposite Dennis Quad and then right after with HBO’s “Taking Chance” opposite Kevin Bacon. After working on these amazing opportunities, I moved to Los Angeles. It was very different to New York and even though things slowed down a little, I really learned a lot. I continued to work on guest star roles and, most importantly, built my community and subsequently family. I feel very fortunate that the decision to move here was the catalyst for ultimately meeting my wife. We make a great team and help each other grow constantly.
DAMAN: Your latest role is as Dennis in the “The Walking Dead: World Beyond.” What was the audition process for this one like?
Maximilian Osinski: I remember I filmed my audition tape in early January. After putting it down, I didn’t hear anything for about two weeks. While I was in New York with my wife for the filming of her series, I got a call from my reps saying they loved my take of the role and wanted to give some notes. After speaking with Julie Schubert over the phone and sending in the tape again a few days later, I found myself in front of the showrunner, director, casting and producer on a Zoom call, reading for them. It was definitely a process of jumping through a few hoops, but I didn’t mind. By the end of it, I knew they felt sure about me inhabiting this character to help tell their story. I also have to give credit to my wife who’s been amazing helping me about the self-tape.
DAMAN: Were you nervous joining such a popular franchise?
Maximilian Osinski: Nervous? Not really. Just excited and thrilled to have been asked to join that world, and give 110 percent of my creativity and efforts. Whenever I start a project, I come at it with a point of view of: How can I help make this character’s story come alive and contribute to the vision of the creators and directors.
DAMAN: We learned that “The Walking Dead: World Beyond” has wrapped filming its second and final season. Do you have any memorable moments from the last days of filming that you can share with us?
Maximilian Osinski: It would be my last scene with my co-stars. Knowing that this was the last time we would be working together on this show because it’s the final season… it was bitter sweet, but also filled me with gratitude. The last scene I wrapped was so intense, and that’s all I can say. It was one of those things where you wanted to finish strong, give it your all for the crew, writers, scene partner and yourself. So, there was no room for “senioritis” on your last day. The other actor and myself had to have a cigarette after, just to decompress and let the work go. The thing is, I’m not a smoker, but it just felt good at the time. In the last few days of a shoot, I get that feeling of a carpet rolling itself up behind me as I walk, knowing I can never go back and what’s ahead is almost done.
DAMAN: Without giving out any spoilers, what can you share for fans of the show about the second season of “The Walking Dead: World Beyond”?
Maximilian Osinski: I think it’s going to have a very different vibe from the first season. I think the fans are going love where Matt and the writers are taking the story, and tying it in with the existing world. I’ll just say this: Even as cast members, we were surprised by what was popping up in the season. I’ll leave it at that before I get into trouble. But I definitely will say fans and audiences will not be disappointed by season two.
DAMAN: You were also known for playing Agent James Davis on “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D” for seven seasons. How did you feel saying goodbye to the series?
Maximilian Osinski: It was sad because that show was like a family. Jed and Maurissa really created a very unique environment to work in. I was very grateful to be a part of the franchise and work with the people I did. At the same time, I was excited to see where my path would take me next. Nothing but gratitude when I think of that experience.
DAMAN: How do you detach yourself from playing Agent James Davis for quite some time?
Maximilian Osinski: Just time, and the experience of playing new characters. But the fans always remind me how much that show meant to them and it’s a nice experience when I get to meet them at conventions—when those used to be a thing pre-pandemic.
DAMAN: Speaking about Marvel, who is your favorite character from the Marvel Cinematic Universe?
Maximilian Osinski: Iron Man, because of the way Robert Downey Jr. brought him to life in a way that seems to be so effortless.
DAMAN: Moving on, up to this point, what project or role are you most fond of?
Maximilian Osinski: Aside from this character of Dennis in season two which I truly enjoyed exploring and playing, I’d have to say it’s been this two-man play I did early on in my career in New York called “Cherry Docs,” written by David Gowe. I played a skinhead jailed for murder who struggles to come to grips with his thinking and his sins, with the help of his Jewish defense lawyer. One of the most challenging roles I’ve had to tackle on stage. It was an experience that challenged me and allowed me to grow as an actor. I think the parts that scare you as an actor are the ones you should run toward.
DAMAN: We learned that you are also a writer. Tell us about this part of your professional life…
Maximilian Osinski: I wrote a web series titled “Hollywood Hitmen” with a few good friends of mine. It was a great, yet challenging, experience to see something through from start to finish. It spoofed the Hollywood industry but was set in the hitman world. It was cross between “John Wick,” “Gross Point Blank, and “Extras.” I’m currently outlining some film ideas together with my wife based on my father’s life in communist Poland that we’ve been inspired to write.
DAMAN: Looking ahead, in what ways do you see the world of acting and filmmaking change further?
Maximilian Osinski: Good question. It’s hard to predict, especially since the business has changed so rapidly in the past year and a half. I think acting has become more of a craft that demands versatility. For instance, you can’t just be a stage actor, film actor or TV actor. You should be fluid in the mediums and be able to go from one medium to another. Oscar winners are doing commercials, voiceovers, plays—and it’s something that isn’t judged one way or another. I’ve done animation, voiceover, stage, film, TV and find myself being asked to cross those mediums more and more. The business model itself is something I’ll leave to the experts and make sure that I’m ready for whatever comes. I feel the more specific you are with yourself as a human being, actor and what you have to offer is more important now than ever. Adapt and succeed is my thinking.
DAMAN: Do you have any wise words or favorite quotes to live by?
Maximilian Osinski: “Don’t compare yourself to others. Compare yourself to who you were yesterday.” I love that because it puts the onus on me. If you can be just a little better of a person then you were yesterday, you won’t recognize yourself in three months. That goes for every aspect in your life from work, family relationships, health, and education.
DAMAN: We now live in a world that’s often lacking in compassion. What is something simple that anybody can do to make the world a better place?
Maximilian Osinski: Give a compliment to people in your life and the people you meet. I mean it in a sincere way, not lying. Anything from “I love your shoes” to “your work on this project was fantastic.” It costs you nothing and it’s one of the most generous things you can do to help people feel confident and appreciated. It can break the ice with strangers and show the people in your life you have gratitude and appreciation for them. When you can make someone feel good about themselves or what they do, it can change their life forever. And again, it costs you nothing but can be the difference between someone giving up or having the confidence to move forward and succeed. The proof is when you receive one, it makes your day better as well, wouldn’t you say?
DAMAN: Looking forward, what’s the next big thing you hope to achieve?
Maximilian Osinski: I’d love to teach my daughter Mathilda how to ride her bike soon. [Laughs] As far as career, I want to continue working with amazing people, creators and continue telling stories that move audiences and make people think. I would love to do a Western and maybe something set in World War Two, because it affected my family so much growing up. I also find that this genre of film is filled with characters that have to live in some of the most basic human conditions, faced with such hardships. They have to find so much courage. I’m interested in these topics historically and with the human beings facing those events, exploring how not to lose our humanity against adversity. How far we have come and what we have learned. I’ve always loved history, so I’m looking forward to diving into a role where I can incorporate my passion for history.
PHOTOGRAPHY & STYLING MITCHELL NGUYEN McCORMACK
STYLING KIMBERLY GOODNIGHT
STYLING ASSISSTANT MOLLY WILLE
GROOMING SONIA LEE FOR EXCLUSIVE ARTISTS USING ORIBE HAIRCARE
PRODUCTION AND CASTING MEDIA PLAYGROUND PR
SPECIAL THANKS GINA HOFFMAN
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