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Max Burkholder talks about starring in the new ‘Ted’ prequel series on Peacock

Actor Max Burkholder chatted about starring in “Ted” prequel series on Peacock.

Max Burkholder
Max Burkholder. Photo Credit: The Riker Brothers
Max Burkholder. Photo Credit: The Riker Brothers

Actor Max Burkholder (“Parenthood”) chatted about starring in the “Ted” prequel series on Peacock, and working with Seth MacFarlane.


Burkholder plays the lead in this new prequel series, which will premiere on January 11 on Peacock. The project is set in 1993, and Max portrays the character that Mark Wahlberg played. 

Seth MacFarlane serves as writer, executive producer, co-showrunner, and director of the show. This marks Burkholder’s first-ever leading role. “Working with Seth for this long of a time period was really a joy,” he said. “I liked improvising and have rapport with somebody as talented as him. What could be better.”

On being a part of this prequel series, Burkholder said, “Doing ‘Ted’ was fantastic. It is a special group of lucky. I’ve been enormously lucky over the course of my career to exclusively work with the sweetest, kindest, and most talented people in the game. It really feels like a family.”

This Peacock limited series will consist of seven episodes. The synopsis is: Ted (Seth MacFarlane) is living back home in Framingham, Massachusetts with his best friend, 16-year-old John Bennett (Max Burkholder), along with John’s parents, Matty and Susan (Scott Grimes and Alanna Ubach) and cousin Blaire (Giorgia Whigham).

Ted may be a lousy influence on John, but at the end of the day, he is a loyal pal who is always willing to go out on a limb for friendship. “John is a sweet kid… he is an idiot and easily corruptible but he is at his core, someone who loves his people and his family,” he said.

“Those are the similarities among my character [John] and myself. We are both idiots about some things, even though our blind spots might be different… Also, we both love our people,” he added.

Playing a role that was previously introduced by Mark Wahlberg

“It was an interesting challenge to take over a role that was introduced by Mark Wahlberg in the ‘Ted’ films. I had to be really careful that I was playing John Bennett at 16, and not Max Burkholder doing a Mark Wahlberg impression. That was very important to me going in. I think it showed through,” he explained.

“Hopefully, people will get a lot of laughter out of it. I think it’s so funny,” he said. “We had really fun doing it, and that really shines through. If people find it funny, enjoy it, and they laugh, then we did our job.”

“If people enjoyed the ‘Ted’ movies, they are really going to enjoy the series. It’s from the same team, it’s the same sense of humor. I hope they get joy and laughter,” he added.


Burkholder is widely known from his role on NBC’s “Parenthood,” where he raised awareness while portraying a young boy with Asperger’s syndrome. “That show was fantastic… I couldn’t have asked for a better group of people to be around me for seven years,” he exclaimed. “I think I got that role when I was 10, and I shot the last scene when I was 17. I really grew up on that show; it was very special to me.”

After the second episode aired, Asperger’s was one of the most frequently searched terms on Google. The following clip shows Max’s character with the therapist for the first time.

The digital age

On being an actor in the digital age, Burkholder said, “Certainly, it is different now. After the strike, we got a really great deal in terms of our relationship with the streamers. I am very excited about that.”

“Honestly, nothing has changed in term of the shooting experience. It is the same… you show up, you do your work, and you go home. Not much has changed in that aspect, for me,” he added.

‘Blush’ film

Burkholder had great words about working with Emmy-nominated actor Graham Sibley (“Dark/Web”) in the movie “Blush.” “Graham was really really fun to work with on ‘Blush’,” he said.

Advice for young and aspiring actors

For young and aspiring actors, Burkholder encouraged them to “take an acting class.” “It’s super important to keep being in a class, there is always more to learn, and always more people that you can meet,” he said.

“During the strike, acting classes allowed me to keep my skills up and not get rusty, especially when the time came to start auditioning again,” he added.

Stage of his life

On the title of the current chapter of his life, Burkholder said, “Let’s see what happens.” “I am hoping ‘Ted’ is going to do really well,” he said. “I am excited to see what pans out. Also, I am getting a dog on Saturday, so I am very much looking forward to that.”

Superpower of choice

If Burkholder were to have any superpower, it would be “teleportation.” “That would be the best one. Either that or shape-shifting because those are the best superpowers to have,” he said.

Favorite motto to live by

His favorite motto to live by is the following quote by Patton Oswalt: “It’s Chaos, Be Kind.” “Also, I enjoy reading my favorite poem, which is ‘Desiderata’ by Max Ehrmann. I think if one were to live by the words encapsulated in that poem every day, it would be a fantastic life,” he said.


On his definition of the word success, he said, “Being happy, having equanimity, as well as having a level of material success, where you can live comfortably and be generous. Finally, find some of sort of fulfillment, where it’s creative or interpersonal. That’s what I would call a success.”

To learn more about actor Max Burkholder, follow him on Instagram.

Markos Papadatos
Written By

Markos Papadatos is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for Music News. Papadatos is a Greek-American journalist and educator that has authored over 20,000 original articles over the past 18 years. He has interviewed some of the biggest names in music, entertainment, lifestyle, magic, and sports. He is a 16-time "Best of Long Island" winner, where for three consecutive years (2020, 2021, and 2022), he was honored as the "Best Long Island Personality" in Arts & Entertainment, an honor that has gone to Billy Joel six times.

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