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The Creative Class: Max Martini

Feb 03, 2016

DSTLD was founded and designed with the Creative Class in mind. It is a reflection of a desire to be stylish but understated. Creatives, like musicians, architects, and designers, appreciate quality and minimalism which can only be achieved through a line of staple pieces that are produced using quality ingredients. We don’t need a luxury label to define ourselves. People who are expressing themselves through their creations don’t want labels. — Founder, Corey Epstein

In our series, #CreativeClass, we interview individuals who are moving, shaking, and making. From architects and academics to musicians and movie stars, the #CreativeClass is about recognizing a diverse, knowledge driven community of problem solvers. Our featured guests are participants, not spectators, and seek to create meaningful new forms of consumer goods and services, as well as build new approaches toward established traditions. Their professional and social culture is built upon independence, curiosity, and talent. They prioritize experiences over things for a streamlined routine, right down to their simple yet style-aware attire. Know someone we should talk to? Drop us a line:


Max Martini, Actor

With a long, accomplished list of credits on his IMDb page (not to mention, a wonderful family!) you might recognize Mr. Martini from box office notables Saving Private Ryan, Captain Phillips, 50 Shades of Grey, and TV hits 24, Hawaii 5-0, and The Unit.

DSTLD: Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Max Martini: I was born in Woodstock, N.Y. My parents separated when I was young, so I grew up between New York City where my father lived and Dallas, TX where my mother is from and returned to. My mother was in law enforcement and my father is a sculptor with a PhD in philosophy. He’s from Rome. As a kid I would find myself in the Mesquite, TX Rodeo doing the calf scramble one day and roaming the streets of New York City the next. Giddy-up and forget about it! My mother got remarried to an actor/director and he used to cast me in his shows – a line here, a line there. After high school I went on to get my degree in Fine Arts. I got my first break when I was offered an audition for the movie Contact with Jodie Foster. I ended up landing the roll, and the rest is history.

DSTLD: What is your favorite role you’ve ever played?

MM: I really owe where I am at today to David Mamet, Shawn Ryan and casting directors Sharon Bialy and Sherry Thomas for putting me in The Unit. The Unit was a TV series that ran for four seasons on CBS. It was modeled after the US Army special operations unit known as Delta Force. It was a show that was hugely successful. Not only were the story-lines raw and powerful but my character was so beautifully complicated. Mack Gerhardt, my role, was a tortured husband with a tendency toward violence, a loving father, a brave soldier, a friend to all but lethal when crossed. Dave, Shawn, Sharon and Sherry gave me the material and the professional opportunity to grow as an actor. I really don’t think I was worth watching before The Unit. I didn’t know what I was capable of and I was afraid to fail so my choices were too safe or too big. There’s a pocket of truth you have to find as an actor. On The Unit I was allowed to explore, and the more I did, the more they wrote. I was so fortunate to have been cast.

DSTLD: You always play some pretty bad ass characters – is there one in particular you can identify with?

MM: You know what’s interesting? Before I started playing the kinds of roles I play I really had nothing in common with my characters. I was a struggling art student in New York City. I sat in studios all day working on my version of political art that I thought was going to have a tremendous impact on the art world. I always aim high. I bartended in SoHo into the wee hours of the morning. Worked at a drop zone on the weekends skydiving. Living off rice and beans. THEN, I got Contact, THEN I was cast in Saving Private Ryan and that started a long chain of events. These bad ass characters have completely changed who I am. My characters and the training and the people I have met as a result have had such a significant impact on who and what I have become today. Wasn’t planned that way. Just happened. Now I’m living it. So to answer your question, it’s not really one character that I identify with. I have become a product of all the characters I have played. Go figure.

DSTLD: Your latest film, 13 Hours: The Secret Soldier of Benghazi, just came out (congrats!) – what was the most challenging / rewarding aspect during filming?

MM: Playing Mark Geist, who actually survived the battle. I had never played a living person before. Hugely challenging and hugely rewarding. Initially I met Mark over the phone. We started off just getting to know each other. He gave me a lot of background information on himself. What he did before and after the military. Why he got into contract work. We talked about politics, family and raising kids. He made me promise to take a photo with him in Malta for his wife because he said it would earn him some brownie points! Ha. Then we got into discussing not only the specifics of what took place that day but also things such as how he reacted emotionally to that situation. For example, how his mind and body responded while rounds were flying by his head, what it felt like to be shot, what it felt like to have shrapnel enter him, etc. Mark’s arm was blown up at the forearm and eventually saved. He graciously talked me through that. Mark was absolutely incredible and so generous in working with me. Right away he made it clear that there weren’t any questions out of bounds. Eventually, he arrived in Malta and we met in person in the lobby of our hotel. Ironically, we look like brothers. At one point during filming we actually put Mark in my wardrobe and threw him into a scene to fuck with Michael Bay. But Mark and I had a great time and the face to face was priceless. Look, movies aside, the newly found friendship was the best part of the whole deal. I would imagine that most men are able to fantasize about being heroic. I know Hollywood paints me to be a badass but Mark is the real deal. And that’s one of the added difficulties in playing a person from real life and one that is still around…pressure, pressure, pressure. His bullets were real – mine aren’t.

DSTLD: You lead a very accomplished and busy life – what are some routines / practices you employ to keep things simplified?

MM: I workout. I train hard. That is how I start each day. On location or at home. It really centers me. My kids do the same. Every moment I’m with my kids, every moment I check in with them as “dad”, it keeps everything simple…and real.

DSTLD: What inspires your creative spirit?

MM: Film is a powerful medium. It reaches and affects the masses. When i was making political art I wanted my work to influence peoples politics. The movies I have done have been instrumental in different ways. ‘Saving Private Ryan’ forced war veterans into speaking about their experiences. It initiated a nation wide conversation. ’13 Hours’ celebrated the bravery of 6 American contractors that risked their lives to help fellow American in jeopardy. Without this movie their bravery would have gone largely unrecognized. And film can just plain entertain. There is great value in that. I found out first hand when I went to Iraq and Afghanistan to see the troops. Young men and women that were so appreciative for the 2 hours of escape that some of my films had given them in theater. It’s a service and I am SO fortunate to have been allowed entry into this profession.

DSTLD: What are three essentials you can’t live without?

MM: I can’t live without… clippers, flip flops and toothpaste.

DSTLD: Describe your personal style.

MM: Casual. Even if I have to go formal, I try to do something to dial myself down.

DSTLD: What are your favorite DSTLD items?

MM: Look I think the entire line is so badass. But If i had to single out two things….the Raw jeans and cotton t-shirts. Like I said, casual. Throw in a buzz cut and some flip flops and I’m all yours. You guys rock — I’m a BIG fan!

DSTLD Men’s Slim Jeans in Dark Worn White Oak Denim
DSTLD Men’s Modern Crew Neck Tee in Charcoal
DSTLD Men’s V-Neck Tee in Smoke
DSTLD Men’s V-Neck Tee in White


Martini on the Red Carpet in DSTLD Men’s Slim 12.75 oz Raw Denim Jeans with Timber Stitch

DSTLD: What’s up next for you?

MM: In a few weeks I go right into two more action movies; Fifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades Freed.