In Conversation with O-T Fagbenle: “The new season of ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ is explosive”

The rising actor plays an ex-pop star turned tabloid laughing stock in new sitcom 'Maxxx'

New Channel 4 sitcom Maxxx tells the story of a former boyband star attempting to revive his pop career by going solo. It dissects the worlds of pop music, celebrity, sex and social media in new and interesting ways. It also makes for some of the most awkwardly hilarious TV moments since David Brent threw shapes on Wernham Hogg’s carpet-tiled dancefloor for Comic Relief in 2002.

O-T Fagbenle (The Handmaid’s Tale, Black Widow) is responsible for bringing Maxxx to screens. As creator, writer, director and lead of the show, the rising actor has a lot on his plate. For the latest edition of NME’s In Conversation series, he takes us behind-the-scenes, teases season two and unveils his favourite celebrity cameos. Here are the key takeaways from the chat…

Acting and directing ‘Maxxx’ was a tough gig

“I have a scene with Christopher Maloney – he’s a big, muscular American guy. In the scene, he wants me to have relations with his wife,” explains Fagbenle to NME via Zoom from Toronto, where he’s just been quarantined for two weeks in order to film the new season of The Handmaid’s Tale.

In one of his most memorable scenes, Maxxx is dragged into joining a thruple in order to pander to his record label boss. “He wants a cuckold situation. A threesome, nonetheless. It’s a very awkward, funny thing to film: trying to make love with someone’s wife. Also, I was directing that scene, so I was running around in my underwear to go behind the camera, then running back to bed.”

Craig David gets a ribbing in the show

In the first episode, Maxxx gets mistaken for Craig David. O-T Fagbenle’s had the comparison in the past, too: “I used to get told I looked like him a lot. But hey, there are worse burdens than looking like a British pop star. It was my cross to carry.” There are more Craig David references and easter eggs in the series too, but originally, there was going to be even more Craig in the series.

“I wrote a scene where Maxxx and Craig get into a fight. All our clothes get ripped off, then we knock over some mud and it goes all over us, and we’re wrestling in the mud. But that never got shot for various legal reasons,” jokes O-T.

’80s duo Bros influenced the story

“I’d already written the first draft of the whole series, and then I watched the Bros documentary, Bros: After The Screaming Stops,” says Fagbenle, of the BAFTA-winning film about the rise, fall and reunion of ‘80s boyband Bros.

“It’s genius. That for me, was almost like retrospective inspiration. I was like, that’s what I’m talking about! You care for the guys, but they’re also have that boyband mentality.”

Maxxx could run for president in season two

“It depends on Channel 4, and if there is a clamouring for it. But yeah, I think there’s more Maxxx to be told,” Fagbenle says. “I’d love to see Maxxx run for president [in season two]. I’ve been spending a lot of time in the States, and watching the absolute circus that’s going on here is so crazy. I love the satirical nature of Maxxx and looking at why, in our culture right now, the idea of being famous is so important to so many people. That how many followers you have is a representation of one’s self worth. That’s what the show is fundamentally about for me.”

The new season of ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ is unmissable

O-T Fagbenle is perhaps best known to tellyheads for his role on hit drama The Handmaid’s Tale. He’s played main character June’s (Elizabeth Moss) husband Luke Bankole since the show started in 2017. Production on season four is currently underway in Toronto – and Fagbenle says the new episodes are the “most explosive since the first season.”

“I actually wrote to [creator] Bruce Miller last week saying, ‘These scripts are unbelievable’,” he added. “I don’t think it’s a season to miss, basically.”

‘Maxxx’ airs Thursday October 29 at 10pm on Channel 4. The whole series will be available All 4 afterwards

Advertisement
Advertisement