An American actor with a knack for playing supporting tough guys, Max Martini is likely a familiar face to ardent fans of action-oriented television shows. After appearing in a few 1980s screen productions while still a kid, Martini began his acting career in earnest during the mid-1990s, and subsequently landed small roles in the sci-fi drama "Contact" (1997), as well as the lauded war epic "Saving Private Ryan" (1998). This elevated exposure led to his casting in the virtual-reality TV series "Harsh Realm" (Fox, 1999-2000), but the show was quickly cancelled. After short stints on the tense primetime programs "24" (Fox, 2001-2010) and "CSI: Miami" (CBS, 2002-2012), Martini finally settled into an ongoing role on the military action series "The Unit" (CBS, 2006-09). Following that show's end, he returned to recurring parts, notably appearing on the first season of the soapy drama "Revenge" (ABC, 2011-15). In 2013, Martini finally won a sizeable film role in a major production as one of the heroic pilots of the giant robots in the sci-fi/action movie "Pacific Rim." With his edgy, intense persona, Martini wasn't going to become an obvious candidate for lighthearted comedies, but his action-genre credibility remained unassailable.
Born in the hippie hamlet of Woodstock, NY, Martini has Italian roots on his father's side and was partially raised abroad, spending time in both Italy and Canada. Showing promise as a football player, Martini gave that pursuit up after an injury, and dabbled in acting while still in his youth. With his slightly scruffy good looks, he began winning small TV parts during the mid-'90s, and soon scored supporting roles in two major films, "Contact," the alien-encounter movie starring Jodie Foster, and Steven Spielberg's sweeping World War II saga "Saving Private Ryan," featuring Tom Hanks and an expansive cast of both screen veterans and newcomers like Martini. Although the streak of big feature productions didn't continue for him, he signed on as a regular to the hyped-up sci-fi series "Harsh Realm," created by "X-Files" mastermind Chris Carter. Despite its potential, the show didn't survive long. In 2000, Martini joined the cast of another tech-oriented series, "Level 9" (UPN, 2000-01; Syfy, 2008), but it too met a quick demise.
Relegated primarily to TV-movie spots and recurring roles, Martini started to rebound slightly with his runs on the high-profile shows "24" and "CSI: Miami." These gigs undoubtedly helped him win the regular part of short-fused Army sergeant Mack Gerhardt on "The Unit," playwright and filmmaker David Mamet's first significant foray into series television. Martini portrayed the fierce military man throughout the show's entire four-season tenure, along with Dennis Haysbert, Robert Patrick and Scott Foley. Mamet also provided Martini with a bit part in his martial-arts film "Redbelt" (2008), which featured a bravura performance by Chiwetel Ejiofor. After "The Unit" disbanded, Martini went back to guest stints on major shows, appearing briefly on the crime comedy "Castle" (ABC, 2009-16) and in numerous episodes of the scheme-centric series "Revenge," where he pined for Madeleine Stowe's affluent lead character. Martini finally returned to features prominently in 2013, when he portrayed Herc Hansen, half of a father/son robot-operating team in Guillermo del Toro's monster-battling movie "Pacific Rim." Sharing many scenes with co-stars Charlie Hunnam and Idris Elba, Martini played a key figure in the super-sized production, leading to greater visibility. That fall he followed up with another notable project, playing a SEAL soldier in the tense sea-set drama "Captain Phillips," starring Tom Hanks and based on a real-life hostage situation.
Cast (Feature Film)
Music (Feature Film)
Cast (TV Mini-Series)
First major film role in "Contact"
Appeared in "Saving Private Ryan"
Cast in the short-lived series "Harsh Realm"
Featured on episodes of "24"
Joined the cast of the TV series "The Unit"
Appeared on the first season of "Revenge"
Featured in "Pacific Rim"