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Exclusive Interview – Ted star Max Burkholder talks Seth MacFarlane’s Peacock series

Tai Freligh chats with Max Burkholder about ‘Ted’ on Peacock…

By Tai FrelighPublished 4 months ago 4 min read

Max Burkholder (Parenthood, The Purge, Invincible) stars as the lead of Seth MacFarlane’s Ted movie prequel series that premiered on Peacock, January 11th. The project takes place in 1993 and Max portrays the character that Mark Wahlberg played in the films. I asked him about working in television and movies as a child, some of his favorite video games and what it was like working opposite a special effect in the Ted television show.

You've done movies and television as well as voice-acting already. What is your favorite medium to work in so far?

It’s honestly very hard to pick between film and theatre. TV is very fun as well but something about those two mediums and how much time you get to dedicate to each scene, each choice, is incredibly fulfilling. Obviously, that’s on a project-by-project basis, but when you’re given space and time to really figure out what makes a scene or character tick, that’s always the most interesting for me.

What was it like working on The Purge as a young child?

It was honestly a blast! I didn’t really have any appreciation of the horror genre at that age, so I’d love to run it back with something similar now that I’m a little more educated on the art form. That being said, when you get to pilot a little mini-bot and shoot blanks as part of your job when you’re 14, you’re going to be having a lot of fun.

From my son – have you played any of Remedy Entertainment’s games (Alan Wake, Control, Max Payne) or any Soulsborne games, such as Dark Souls or Elden Ring?

Yes! I’ve played every game mentioned besides Max Payne. Elden Ring, in particular, I think I’ve logged over 250 hours in. I really enjoy From Software’s method of piecemeal storytelling, which makes you piece together vague information into a cohesive and still interpretable whole.

What was the experience of being on Parenthood like for somebody going through their teenage years on screen? How did you deal with that?

Honestly, even when I look back now on my experience working as a teenager, I don’t consider it to be that different from a normal kid’s life besides the intensity of the schedule. It certainly was a challenge attending regular high school while working what was sometimes a full-time job, but the nature of Parenthood having so many series regulars meant that often I would only be working a day or two out of the week. I was still able to go to school and have fulfilling friendships with my classmates that have lasted to this day. I will admit though, ten years after the fact, that I would sometimes “call in work” to school as my mom and I put it, lying about my professional schedule to avoid going to school when things got too overwhelming.

Talk about playing opposite a character that only exists as a special effect in the Ted television series. How did that work?

I’ve talked about this elsewhere, but it was certainly a jarring experience for the first two weeks. I was dealing with the pressure of my first sort of big-time leading role, and on top of that my scene partner in 95% of my scenes was empty space. After a bit I started to get used to it, but I don’t think it would have been possible to get the comedy and the timing right had Seth not been there every day voicing the bear. By the end of the shoot, it just felt normal that the bear wasn’t really there, and you started to almost be able to see him.

From American Dad to The Orville, you’ve had a pretty long run with Seth MacFarlane… and now in Ted. How did you two first meet and what’s that relationship like?

So, we first met when I was probably around six years old at the Family Guy studio when I started doing voice-over work for them. That kind of day-player voice work is very in-and-out, plus I was a literal child, so we never had any sort of close working relationship or anything. I was a bit older when I did an episode of The Orville, but that was just a brief two-week stint so there wasn’t much room for anything. Ted is certainly the closest and most intensively I’ve worked with him, and it was an absolute treat. He’s so professional and efficient, but also finds room in every day for experimentation and fun.

What’s one question you wish somebody would ask you, but they never do… and what’s the answer?

Honestly, your son’s question from before is the exact kind of thing I love talking about. I’m a massive dweeb and love any opportunity to geek out, especially involving video games or comics. I feel like both are such incredible storytelling media that are so deeply overlooked by those who aren’t involved with them. God of War (2018) in particular is one of my favorite stories I’ve ever experienced.

What projects do you have coming up?

Nothing I could discuss in any detail or, honestly, certainty. Since the strike ended my focus has mainly been publicity for Ted, and I feel like the industry as a whole is still in the process of spinning its engines back up in the aftermath. That being said, I’m very happy that auditions are coming back in again, and I can’t wait to get back to work.


The Peacock limited series consists of seven episodes, with premiered on January 11th. The show is set in 1993 and Ted (MacFarlane) is living back home in Framingham, Massachusetts with his best friend, 16-year-old John Bennett (Max Burkholder), along with John’s parents, Matty and Susan (Scott Grimes and Alanna Ubach) and cousin Blaire (Giorgia Whigham). Ted may be a lousy influence on John, but at the end of the day, he’s a loyal pal who’s always willing to go out on a limb for friendship.

Many thanks to Max Burkholder for taking the time to chat. He can be found on Instagram.

Tai Freligh writes about entertainment and pop culture for Flickering Myth from sunny Huntington Beach, California…just a hop and a skip from Los Angeles. He can be found on Twitter and TikTok and his website.


(Article originally appeared on Flickering Myth)

interviewtvpop culturegamingfeatureentertainmentCONTENT WARNINGcomedycelebrities

About the Creator

Tai Freligh

I write about entertainment and pop culture. My favorite movies are superhero or comic book movies...same with TV shows. I'm based in Huntington Beach, CA, but have been known to jaunt into L.A. Exclusive interviews are my jam.

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