Interview: Clayne Crawford & Max Martini Talk The Channel
The Channel is the new action-packed movie from director William Kaufman and it stars Clayne Crawford and Max Martini as two brothers who must escape New Orleans and the determined FBI agent who pursues them after a heist gone wrong. I got to chat with Clayne and Max about the movie.
Today we are talking about your new movie The Channel, what was it that appealed about it to both of you?
Max: Well, I mean, for me, it was the opportunity to work with Clayne. We’ve been buddies for 21 years and we’re like family. We have often said we should play brothers, in fact, Clayne brought up that we said that right away when we first met, and I think now that you say that, I remember that. So, the opportunity arose, and we loved the script, and we loved Will and his skills with action films and his passion for elevating action films. It seemed like the right recipe for us, I think.
Clayne: Yeah, Max is right. We’ve known each other since 2001 and we just hit it off. Max is like an older brother in so many ways so for me, I’ve kind of grown up in this industry and Max has kind of always been there. I mean, I met him on my third film and yes, this is our fourth film together, but we’ve never really had quality scenes together. I think in The Great Raid, he asked me to choose who was going to fire the bazooka with me; I think that was the only thing that we had. He said “choose a loader” and we may have had a little bit in the Netflix film that we did, called Spectral. But the first time we were not offered the brothers. I was offered Max’s role and Max was offered the FBI agent. Max was actually the first one that called me; I had not seen the script from my agents. I was busy. My wife and I live on a farm with our three kids and it’s quite a lot of work in the summertime. That’s when this project kind of came into my lap and Max was the first one again, who gave me a ring and just said, “Hey, you’re offered this guy, and I’ve been offered the cop, but we need to play brothers”. I had not seen anything yet so, I just said, “Look, let me read it and I’ll call you right back” and I did. I knew immediately this was our opportunity to kind of cash in on that dream of being able to play brothers in the film together. We put our ideas together and we got on the phone with Will and we pitched him and luckily, he went for it. We were able to jump in with both feet.
One of my favourite scenes is the scene towards the beginning Clayne where you were with the baby and there’s something just very natural about that. They say sometimes you shouldn’t work with young kids, but how was it for you?
Clayne: We were very lucky. She was a lovely little actress and she gravitated to me from the moment that we were introduced and her mother brought her into the house where we were shooting. We had about an hour to get to know one another and to play in that little bedroom where her crib and the little dolls and toys were and so forth. So, luck of the draw. She was just lovely and connected at all times. She was making tons of eye contact. I looked at the necklace. She went to the necklace. I looked at her look at like everything, all the beats we needed her to hit. She just organically went there. Then it was even nice that she was sad about the actress playing the grandmother taking her from me. That was just all her; again luck of the draw is the best way to describe that situation because it can be very challenging with babies and animals but she was lovely.
Max: Yeah, I was worried that she was gonna go full diva (laughs).
Max, was it wrong that I liked Mic? I know that he had problems, but I didn’t hate him as much as I should have…
Max: (laughs) You know, what’s funny is that reaction has been happening across the board and it’s hilarious, because he’s really just disgustingly evil. But it’s like I was telling one of the previous interviews, I was saying that one of the things that I love about playing bad guys is trying to find moments to kind of mess with the audience and make them sympathetic to your character; empathetic, to find things out about the character that create this kind of conflict with the viewer, right? It’s like, they hate to love you, and love to hate you. At the end of the day, it just makes for a more interesting bad guy. But yeah, thank you for that. I’ll take it.
Clayne, what was your favourite aspect of Jamie’s journey as a character?
Clayne: I think the struggle is always fun to play from a creative standpoint. I think just the way that the characters are designed, from the get go that he’s in that bit of a tug of war, between two people that he loves, and he is in the middle, or he is the rope as it were. That was a lot of fun and it just gives you a lot of many, many different places that you can go within a scene when you love both people, but you can’t be with them both. That’s quite a nice design.
Yeah. And what about you, Max?
Max: Well, I just liked exploring likeable elements and character, that were on the page or weren’t on the page and adding them. One of the things that I’ll say something about Clayne’s performance is that, have you ever seen a guy, maybe a young dude that just looks really hard and covered in tattoos, piercings, and kind of ragged with a baby? But being this what seems like an amazing father with this child. It was like one of the things about Clayne’s performance where you’ve got this guy that goes in guns blazing, takes over a bank, and clearly is capable of violence, right? Then, you see him a bit later with the child and even at the beginning with the child it’s like somebody that’s in love with this girl and in love with this baby. I mean, it’s things like that, that I think when you can pull that off and find that balance it’s just really interesting to me, so thanks Clayne *claps*.
Clayne: This is why I love Max Martini. Yeah, he compliments me like my mother and it just makes me feel really good inside.
Max: I do interviews with him that I’m not I’m not even on the films (laughs); I have it in my contract.
Clayne: If I’m gonna do an interview I have Max.
He’s your wingman.
Clayne: Yeah, yeah. Really kind of boosts me.
Both of you are not strangers to action movies, and you’ve work together before. Did you have to do any specific training with firearms for this movie?
Clayne: Yeah, but again, when I met Max he had already done Saving Private Ryan. So, he had worked with Dale Dye, and Freddy Joe on that film. When we went to go through The Great Raid, he was like the vet for all of us younger guys who were coming into the fold and we’ve worked multiple times on this film that we did called Spectral which was also military. So, Max and I have gone through three boot camps together. It’s kind of exciting for us. It’s always good to work with these highly skilled, highly trained individuals. We had a former Navy SEAL on this and to go through that process and kind of re-familiarize yourself with these high-powered weapons, and go through the choreography, it’s just a ton of fun. To have a guy like Max, who again, has done this so many times, if ever you get kind of stopped, you can just look to Max to get you out of it.
What would you like audiences to take away from the film?
Max: Well, my take away was something that I’m learning is Will’s (William Kaufman) signature style, but he takes these action films and like Clayne and I have said, we had the opportunity to really explore these characters, which you generally find in character driven films. So, it’s this very well crafted fusion of two styles and I think it’s what separates The Channel from generic, run of the mill action films is that you’re invested in these characters and so, I think people are gonna love that. You care when things go bad, and it’s very entertaining, and it’s kind of got a little throwback element to it, so I think The Channel’s gonna do well.
Clayne: I guess, I don’t know if I have any desires as it relates to what they take away from the film. But what excites me about this project is what Max was alluding to and yourself is that you don’t see a lot of indie action where it is these character driven pieces, and we’re invested in these individuals and their journey. The action is almost more of a backdrop. I think that’s very interesting and I think it allows it to reach a wider audience; it’s not just a lot of testosterone and male driven entertainment. I think it has a nice balance.
Thanks so much, guys for taking the time to chat with me today. I really enjoyed it and all the best with the film.
THE CHANNEL will release in Select Theaters and On Demand on July 14.