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Everybody's Talking About Jamie movie's gay star Max Harwood has received apologies from classmates since landing role

The 23-year-old big screen newcomer talks school, sexuality and feeling 'othered' in the Attitude March issue.

2021-01-27

A young LGBTQ teenager with big dreams of performing on stage and overcoming the whispers of closed-minded classmates in the process?

It's the plot of Everybody's Talking About Jamie, the smash-hit West End musical turned Disney movie extravaganza, but it's also not far from the story of the film's leading man, Max Harwood.

Max Harwood wears top and trousers by Marni on the cover of the Attitude March issue, out now to download and to order globally (Photography: Olivia Richardson)

The screen newcomer, 23, is set to become one of 2021's biggest breakout stars as he takes on the role of Jamie New, a 16-year-old boy set on becoming a drag queen, in Jonathan Butterell's big-screen adaptation out later this year.

As Max appears on the cover of the Attitude March issue - out now to download and to order globally, the Hampshire-born actor opens up about his own experiences of being 'othered' at school, and reveals he's already received apologies from classmates who gave him a hard time over his perceived sexuality.

Max wears top by Prada; trousers, stylist’s own (Photography: Olivia Richardson)

"When I was growing up, I didn’t like playing football. I didn’t like getting muddy. I liked to dress up, and act and dance and sing, and, typically, when I was growing up, those were things that girls did", recalls Max.

"I feel like I wanted to go to ballet, not football, and I was doing things that were more typically effeminate and I feel like,  at the time, growing up, as an effeminate boy, there are opinions and thoughts that people put on you.

"I definitely, sometimes felt othered, in that sense — that I was doing things that weren’t what other little boys were doing, I suppose."

He goes on: "I always feel like I’ve felt othered and I feel like when I was at school, at the time, I probably wouldn’t have classed it as bullying, because I probably gave back as good as I got.

Max Harwood (bottom) as Jamie New and Richard E Grant as Loco Chanelle, Jamie’s drag mentor (Image: 20th Century Studios)

"I feel like that helped me in a way, because I didn’t come out until I went to college, when I was 18. I just think that no one ever generally sat me down and asked me in a sensitive way, 'Are you gay?' It was always something that I was, like, 'No, I’m not. No, I’m not. No, I’m not'."

Max, who says his parents, brother and sister were "incredibly supportive" when he did eventually come out as gay, says some of those who made his life difficult during his school years have reached out to apologise since he was cast in Everybody's Talking About Jamie.

"All of those people, now… they thought it was banter. With the movie coming out, I’ve had some apology messages over it", he reveals.

Max wears jacket and trousers by BOSS, tank top by Rufskin, socks by Sock Shop, trainers by Louis Vuitton (Photography: Olivia Richardson)

"Some say, 'I know that we’re years on, but I just feel bad for the things I said in school and if that ever stopped you from feeling you could be yourself, I’m really sorry.' But it didn’t hold me back."

Max's starring role in Everybody’s Talking About Jamie is the big break many actors can only dream about - but the young star admits he may have missed out on the role altogether had he not broke drama school rules about not auditioning for professional parts while studying.

"I didn’t have an agent at the time", he says of the casting process. "Also, I was auditioning in secret, because in the second year of drama school you weren’t allowed to go and audition for professional roles — you’re in training — so I was being a little bit naughty, and skipping class to go to auditions and being, like, 'I’m ill'."

That determination to make his dreams come true only makes Max an even better fit for the part of strong-willed would-be drag queen drama, however. 

"Jamie is someone who knows who he is, and he’s waiting for everyone else to catch up and get on board", Max explains.

"I think the whole play isn’t Jamie going, 'Oh, do I want to be a drag queen? Do I want to do this?' Jamie knows. He wants to be a drag queen. He is gay, and it’s more about other people, their journey and understanding where he’s at.

Max wears top by Prada; trousers, stylist’s own (Photography: Olivia Richardson)

"I also feel like I’m at a stage in my life that I know who I am and that I know what I want. I knew that I wanted to be an actor. I was in a similar place with Jamie. Jamie wants to be a drag queen, Max wants to be an actor.

"I was navigating, not to prove to myself, but to convince my parents, and my friends that I actually could do this."

Read the full interview in the Attitude March issue, out now to download and to order globally.

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