By Molly Given
Some characters are just too eccentric to be put in a box, and that truly is the case for Christopher Meloni’s Don Wild. In UK E4’s new comedy series from ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ O-T Fagbenle—which he wrote, co-directed, executive produced and stars in—audiences are introduced to a full cast of starry-eyed performers and members of the biz who are all as outspoken as they are fictional. However, you can still see some remnants of some very real people from Tinsel Town and the likes of it when taking a step back and watching this entertaining show, which premieres on Hulu July 28.
‘Maxxx’ follows the once-famous boyband member Maxxx (Fagbenle) who tries to make his way back into stardom to impress and win back his supermodel ex-girlfriend (Jourdan Dunn.) On that journey, audiences are then introduced to his former manager (Meloni) who has his own look, personality and flair to say the least. For Meloni, this character is pure entertainment, which was the joy of it for him. As someone who has played both very comedic roles like in ‘Wet Hot American Summer,’ and more serious tunes like Elliot Stabler in ‘Law and Order SVU,’ and the highly-anticipated upcoming reboot ‘Law and Order Organized Crime,’ it truly is a treat to watch his colorful character unfold onscreen.
Meloni sat down with Metro to discuss what exactly went into creating Don Wild.
What made you want to sign on with this particular project?
I appreciated the writing, I thought it was really unique and had a very interesting voice. The characters all had really, very personal and interesting journeys. My character was written as a 74-year-old so I have a lot of questions about why they were offering me that role. But, I just thought it was a great script. In this business, this is the first thing you see—here’s an offer, show me the material and you know within the first 10 pages, you already realize whether it’s not your cup of tea or not right now or this is pretty good. It was brilliant.
One thing I love about Don Wild is his whole look—were you able to have some input with that?
Yes, but having said that, the costumer was brilliant and she had such a keen eye and a strong opinion but was very amenable to working [together.] For example, the kilt was her idea, and I just walked into that—tell me I can wear a kilt and I’m all in, I’m good with that. I saw [Don] as a 20-year-old boy trapped in a 60-year-old man’s body or a 60-year-old man who still thinks he’s 20. So, that’s how I approached him, and I’ve seen those type of guys. You’ll find them in Vegas, because they’re the acts that people have been going to see for 30, 40 years and so they want to get that image and project the image that the people remember. That was kind of my template for what the look was. My ears had been pierced years ago, so, I went out and bought some earrings, we mixed and matched and most of the bracelets were mine and the rings that the costumer brought along with the necklaces—you know he’s a rock and roller.
Do you think he’s good at what he does? What do you think his motivations are?
I don’t, but I think Don Wild operates on the plane of magic. He’s one of these guys who is able to squirrel [and] find his way—it’s not stumble, it’s to find his way through any situation. There are some people who have the magic touch and the Midas touch, and I think that’s Don. Whether he’s good or not, I don’t know. I think in his mind he thinks he’s better than Clive Davis or Quincy Jones—probably both all rolled into one in his mind. But he’s a businessman, and he’s just looking for the next thing to sell.
What was the most fun aspect of getting to play this character?
Building the character was fun, but getting to work with the exceptionally trained actors, young and old was really a thrill. Just ad-libbing with these people was so much fun and a great process and they were great partners to be playing with all the time.
You’ve swapped between very serious and also very comedic roles—is there one type of genre that you prefer?
I like them all, there’s no favorite—they’re like your children.
Maxx’s show creator/writer, O-T Fagbenle, talked about the notion that being famous isn’t the same as being respected. You being someone who is both in the industry and plays someone in the industry, what do you think of that idea?
First off, I agree with what he said. For me personally, luckily those were the kind of values that were instilled in me by my parents. Which is, you didn’t worry about money and the fame wasn’t talked about because acting—I didn’t know I was going to be an actor until I was 23. So I agree, I think if you get in this business to be famous, you’re going to be in trouble. I think you’re already setting yourself up on the wrong road. That’s just my opinion for me, you know anyone else can go any way they want. So I absolutely agree, I’ve seen it and I think we’ve all seen it—I think we see it in a president that we know. It’s a bottomless hole. Fame, and people liking me, I think respect is a far more difficult road but also a truer road and a longer-lasting road.
Is there anything you hope people are able to take away from the series after watching it?
This is actually part of the deep joy for me, I saw this as pure entertainment. I think any of the messaging or any of the pathos really came through O-T’s character. What I was handed, Don’s not that deep of a guy and doesn’t operate on that deep of a plane. It’s very transactional for him. I haven’t seen it, but I’m sure there are beautiful moments of depth. I was doing it and I left the program going man, I hope people really kick back and take a break for 30 minutes and enjoy the wild ride of these insane characters.
Can you give us any insight on the return of Elliot Stabler in ‘Law and Order Organized Crime?’
I’m not trying to be cute—I really can’t. I haven’t seen one word that has been written, I know many things have been pitched and it’s all kind of general stuff.
‘Maxxx’ premieres on Hulu July 28.