By AMANDA BEAM
Matt Mason isn’t your typical 12-year-old. Why, just last night I watched him detonate several electromagnetic devices that ended up crippling a portion of an invading alien race’s forces. Of course, the rebel “skitter” army did help him a bit, their painted faces closely resembling an extraterrestrial rendition of Braveheart.
Shame a kilt couldn’t fit over their four spider-like legs or we might have had quite a skirt-raising display of provocation.
Toward the end of the ruckus, Matt’s too-hot-for-network-television father Tom rode in on a gallant steed to finish the job like a modern-day George Washington, only with much nicer teeth. Did I mention he’s the new American president, or at least the leader of what remains of the states?
Just another job to add to daddy’s long resume that already contains physician, librarian and founder of Apple.
OK, you got me. Matt Mason doesn’t actually exist outside the make-believe world of the hit TNT science-fiction drama “Falling Skies.”
But the kid who plays him on the show certainly does.
Folks, meet Maxim Knight. Don’t let his curly ringlets of gold and sweet, little face fool you. This 13-year-old can throw it down when it comes to fighting aliens, or at the very least sure as heck can act like it.
Back when we lived in Hawaii, our families became friends through a local Mom’s Club chapter. Even then, the little boy we knew as Max had a certain magnetic energy about him.
As a small character in a local independent movie filming on Oahu, it was no surprise that Max got bit by the acting bug. While we gave up island living and returned home to Indiana, he and his mother Laura moved to Los Angeles to begin a new life of their own. His father and little brother Logan remained in Hawaii, while his mom now accompanies him with their two cats while he films the series five months out of the year in Toronto.
“If the fourth season gets picked up for Falling Skies, I’m going to head up there. It’s looking good,” Max said during a recent phone interview. “It’s funny because when we get toward the end of it, pretty much everyone is ready to go. But then we all want to come back. We want to do next season.”
More than six years have passed since Max’s emergence on the Hollywood scene, and the time has been kind to the soon-to-be ninth-grader. Other gigs have come with frequency but none so far have been as big as his role as Matt Mason.
Now in his third season as the character, Max — and Matt — have gone through some changes, most notably their voice. Puberty can make it rough in some interesting ways, especially when only roughly a few years ago Matt was written in as only a babe.
“If you remember, in the first season I turned 8. Technically, the show has only been like two years or 11⁄2 years when you start season three. But supposedly [director] Greg [Beeman] tells me I’m 12 years old in the show. I’m not sure how that works out, but you’ll figure it out,” Max said.
Being around veteran actors has also been a huge help to Max. Most notably, “ER” alum Noah Wyle plays his father. Apparently, Max has grown accustomed to fielding questions from his mother’s friends about the hunky star. And yes, I may have contributed to asking a few of them.
“Every mom that I have met has had a crush on Noah Wyle,” Max said. “He’s almost like a father in real life to me. He’s taught me a lot about acting and how to prepare. He’s always wisecracking me about my puberty and what I’m going through.”
So what’s up next for the emerging teenage heartthrob? Believe it or not, Max isn’t quite sure how long he wants to stay in the acting business. His other passion is video games, and he hopes to make his hobby more of a career in the future.
Until then, don’t expect Max to go the way of some of the more notorious child celebrities. He and his mother still live in a one-bedroom studio apartment, a fact he said challenges a general preconception of actors.
“I think it’s important to remember that not all actors are famous and rich. I’m nowhere near even well-off,” Max said. “I just stay grounded. I don’t do anything to get a big head or go to parties. I’m just a kid.”
If you like some great science fiction, make sure to check out “Falling Skies” every Sunday at 10 p.m. on TNT.
— Amanda Beam is a Floyd County resident and Jeffersonville native. Contact her by email at firstname.lastname@example.org