Christopher Meloni Introduces His 'Outrageous' Character on New Comedy 'Maxxx'
On the six-part British comedy Maxxx, executive producer and writer O.T. Fagbenle stars as a once-famous boy band star trying to make his comeback. He turns to his former manager, Don Wild (Meloni), who recruits a wannabe manager to help.
The U.K. series is arriving stateside at just the right time, according to the actor, who played Det. Elliot Stabler on Law & Order: SVU for 12 seasons. "People want to laugh," Meloni tells TV Insider. "Hopefully this will scratch that itch."
Ahead of the comedy exclusively streaming on Hulu on July 28, Meloni introduced us to Don Wild and looked back on his time on The Handmaid's Tale.
You've done a mix of comedy and drama. What drew you to Maxxx? Were you looking for a comedy when this opportunity came about?
Christopher Meloni: I just look for good material, and when I read this, it was very good material. I was a little concerned because it was written as a 74-year-old man, so I didn't know how to take that, but beyond that, it was a very funny script and I had a nice phoner with O.T., who had written it and was leading the charge, and he seemed like a very personable and funny and smart guy, so I said yes.
Introduce us to Don Wild. What kind of person and manager is he? Is he just out for himself or does he care about his clients?
He's a businessman. He cares about them and how they will help him. He comes from the dog-eat-dog worldview of businessmen. He also has a very strong Peter Pan complex and a very strong rock 'n' roll ethos, and by that, it means he likes to project this rebel image but he's very keen about what will sell. That's what I think he thinks his forte is. He knows what's going to sell.
Speaking of his image, we see that in his style, which is very memorable. How did that come about? Was it a collaboration?
It was. On my part of the collaboration, I was toying with either really bleach blond hair or just kind of shaggy, like I never had gotten out of the '80s. But that would have required a wig, and we tried that, and it just didn't look right. It looked like we were doing a caricature, so then we just decided just keep the hair, fluff it up a little bit, and dye it jet black.
The director and O.T. wanted a goatee, and I didn't see it that way, but they were right once I got it in place and all that, so I grew a little goatee and that was fun. Then I had pierced ears from years gone by, which I thought had closed up, but lo and behold they were still open and available, so put a couple crazy earrings through my ears—I shopped for those myself.
All the bangles and necklaces, that was the costumer, and she was the genius behind the whole Don Wild look. She was really dialed in. She had a real strong sense, she had a real strong vision but was really smart and when things weren't quite right, she did a fantastic job.
How would you describe his relationship with Maxxx?
He's like the son [Don] never had — even though he does have a son — as long as he makes money. He's this big-hearted, drug-addled...he's just such a loose cannon. To me, any endearing quality he may possess is almost like he's not to blame. He's too much of a child to understand that his behavior is maybe not quite appropriate or honest. His ever-shifting loyalty's for the buck, but he is endearing to me.
What does Don think of Maxxx's new manager?
Don uses the young lady all for good, and I think Don would be a man of his word until maybe a better situation came around, but he basically says, "this is your project. Make me the money. If you do your job, you will get what you want, I'll get what I want, and Maxxx will get what he wants." Isn't that how business works? The people below you, they're given a task and if they do a great job, then they move up in the organization.
Was there anything about Don that surprised you as you read each script?
No, not surprised. I was thrilled at his outrageous behavior. I very quickly got used to his outrageousness and O.T. had already written all six of them, so he had a good handle on who Don was.
And since this project includes a Handmaid's Tale reunion, looking back at that show, what was the most memorable part of your work on it? Your death scene or something else?
Everything was. Really, truly inhabiting that world. I'd been a big fan of the show. I loved how they told the story, I loved the cinematography. I really enjoyed inhabiting the dystopian world. But look, if you don't love getting whacked by Elisabeth Moss, you're just not human. [Laughs] That was a fitting end to the Commander.
Maxxx, Series Premiere, Tuesday, July 28, Hulu