The new OT Fagbenle series is a family affair.
That’s because “Maxxx”, a six-episode comedy created by Fagbenle (“The Handmaid’s Tale”), co-stars and is co-executive produced by her brother, Luti. “We made our first short film when I was 8 and I was 12,” Fagbenle, 39, born in London, told The Post. “But this was our maiden voyage in creating our fully produced long written and directed narrative.”
Released on Hulu Tuesday, “Maxxx” follows her lead character (Fagbenle), a former boy band star who tries to return to retrieve his supermodel ex-girlfriend (Jourdan Dunn) and show the world that he’s still relevant. Luti plays Rico, Maxxx’s former bandmate; Chris Meloni co-stars as Don Wild, the manager of the Maxxx record company.
It’s a change in television roles for Fagbenle, a rising star best known for playing June’s husband (Elizabeth Moss) Luke in “The Handmaid’s Tale,” the dark and dystopian Hulu series that enters its fourth season. He is also co-starring with Scarlett Johansson in the upcoming Marvel movie “Black Widow”, currently slated to premiere in November.
Fagbenle says “Maxxx” was inspired by his observations on the nature of fame.
“It was a confluence of things,” he says. “Part of this was just watching the world become increasingly obsessed with celebrities, and I wanted to distinguish the difference between being famous and being respected. I wanted to talk about it and how corrosive it is to the human condition.
“And on a personal level, I’ve had a bad heart before,” he says. “You can get so attached to these external parts of your psyche, so I also wanted to touch that. [‘Maxxx’ is] It really is a silly comedy, and it has a funny and ridiculous humor, but we also subversively address some deeper philosophical questions. “
Meloni, says Fagbenle, “simply brought his character to life in an extraordinary way.” The show also features several big name cameos like Backstreet Boys and Larry King.
“I was really impressed with the [production] the team’s ability to be malleable, flexible and responsive, ”he says. “We managed to get these amazing celebrity cameos. It forced us to move at lightning speed like, ‘We have an hour to get a film crew here because Larry [King] says we can shoot him now! I was not completely convinced that we could achieve half of the things that we did. ”
Fagbenle was forced to modify a cameo, he says.
“We managed to convince Jourdan Dunn, who is Britain’s largest supermodel, to play my girlfriend,” he says. “When I first wrote it, I wasn’t sure of its ability to act, so I reduced the number of words it said. But I met Jourdan and we did a little rehearsal and she was so good and so funny that … I rewrote her and did her biggest role. “
Her brother Luti, who directed and produced music videos for characters like Zayn Malik, Iggy Azalea, One Direction, and Drake, helped Fagbenle make the world of “Maxxx” feel real, using his abilities to include snippets from the days of glory of the maxxx boy band.
“We filmed the show in London last year,” says Fagbenle. “But basically I knew I was going to do ‘Maxxx’ when I was doing press for [‘The Handmaid’s Tale’] and I was traveling and I called my brother and said ‘How fast can you mobilize a camera crew?’ So we have pictures in Malibu, New York, Jamaica, Mexico, a wide variety of places.
“A lot of these things only show up for 10 seconds in the show, but they help create the texture of the world.”