“I love doing stuff that’s not overtly comedy, because I think life is really funny, especially in intensely panicked moments,” Max Jenkins told IndieWire in a recent interview. After making a splash in comedic television roles in HBO’s “High Maintenance” and NBC’s short-lived “The Mysteries of Laura,” the actor took a turn for the dramatic in “The Mess He Made,” a poignant short film about a man awaiting the results of an HIV test. Directed and written by Matthew Puccini, the film is a beautifully restrained representation of an emotionally fraught yet all too common experience for many gay men.
“I knew what I wanted to do as soon as I read the script,” said Jenkins. “It’s easy with a good script. You don’t really have to prepare too much. In this case…it was all there.” Jenkins is accustomed to working with good scripts; his theatre credits include plays by Paul Rudnick (“The Stepford Wives”), William Inge (“Splendor in the Grass”), and Lucas Kavner (“The Jim Jeffries Show”). As the slightly better half of the brazenly narcissistic duo on “High Maintenance,” his facility with the quick-paced dialogue made his character one of the series’ most memorable.
If “High Maintenance” cemented him in audiences’ minds as a terrific comedic actor, “The Mess He Made” shows Jenkins’ more dramatic side. “It totally subverts what anyone would have expected of me as the gay comic relief,” he said. “I’m not really a comedian. I can’t help but be a goofball, but I’m just a quivering sensitive lonely gay heart. Really. I really want to expose it. I’m a total exhibitionist.”
Jenkins was excited to work with Puccini, who he said is “really serious about writing gay stories.” A former assistant to Scott Rudin and Cary Fukunaga, Puccini was recently announced as a 2018 Sundance Ignite fellow. “I think it’s so smart that he started his career there,” Jenkins said of Puccini’s time with Rudin.
At under 10 minutes, “The Mess He Made” is a perfect way to honor World AIDS Day. Check it out: