Jack Griffo is an aspiring supervillain turned superhero. At least, he plays one on TV. As Max Thunderman in Nickelodeon’s The Thundermans, Griffo is slowly but surely making a name for himself. He has had guest spots on Jessie and NCIS: Los Angeles and has been in movies like Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No, and though he spends a lot of his time on his TV show set, the half-hour comedy isn’t all that Griffo has going for himself. He’ll have a busy 2017 with two movies set to release as well.
Jack Griffo grew up admiring the business from afar. His older brothers, who were in high school while he was in middle school, went through an acting program. Watching his brothers participate in this program made Griffo want to try it, too. However, he knew that he wanted to really act when he was 12 years old. In Florida, where Griffo grew up, he landed the role of Dill Harris in a production of To Kill A Mockingbird. Though it was a long time ago, Griffo has fond memories of his first acting role.
“It was cool. I got to hang out with all of my friends who were doing the play,” he recalls. “It was at a theatre downtown. The play was a month run and I remember there was a really long court scene, a trial, and we had to sit on stage for so long and be actively listening and make sure that we were not daydreaming.”
Acting isn’t Griffo’s only passion. In fact, he loves music, too. When we spoke for this interview, he was actually in a guitar store. He believes that music is parallel to everyone and that it can communicate so many things. On his worst days, music is there for him. He believes that music is ingrained in us and was always a part of humans as we know ourselves today. After acting and music, Griffo also enjoys reading. He wasn’t the most studious individual in school, but he enjoys reading and learning new things.
[Max] went from wanting to be evil and totally separating himself from his family to wanting to be good and help his family. I really enjoyed the fact that I got to do that.
Still, he’s learned a lot from acting. His biggest lesson learned so far is that it’s about the work. He says that doing the work is important, and when the work is done, then the extracurriculars like red carpets, events, and other things that do not have anything to do with the craft can come later. He reminds himself that doing the work first is most important and if the work is there, the performance will be, too.
Griffo has been honing the craft as Max Thunderman for four years now and he says that The Thundermans has taught him a lot. Max is a teenage boy trying to find himself and figure out life, but with the twist of being born into a family of superheroes. Like most teens, Griffo’s character rebels on a quest to be a supervillain while his twin sister Phoebe (Kira Kosarin) is a fully-fledged superhero. Thankfully, Max finds his way back to his family before it’s too late.
“I like that he’s really gone somewhere over the years,” Griffo explains. “If you watched the season three finale, you know that Max had a total change of character. He went from wanting to be evil and totally separating himself from his family to wanting to be good and help his family. I really enjoyed the fact that I got to do that.”
“I’m lucky,” Griffo continues. “I feel like on Disney and Nickelodeon shows—not that there’s anything bad about them—there’s not a lot of room to grow. I feel very lucky to have that character arc and be on that ride with him.”
Griffo credits the people in Max’s life for his character growth. Fans have followed Max through high school and have met his friends and family and have witnessed the way that he navigates through his world. He started dating in season 2, but Alison (Ryan Newman) was his first long-term relationship, and Griffo feels that it was good for Max because he “really got to see that something else mattered other than his drive of being evil.” Allison and his friends softened him and helped him realize the importance of friendship, relationships, and family. Now as the show heads into season four, Phoebe and Max are working towards joining the Z Force.
If you watched the season three finale [of The Thundermans], you know that Max had a total change of character.
In 2017, after Griffo goes back to set to shoot more episodes of The Thundermans, he has two movies set to release. The first movie, Those Left Behind, follows him as Noah, the son of a mother who lost her brother years before at a lake house. Noah’s mother brings Noah and his girlfriend to the lake house and the movie deals with grief and depression.
“Those Left Behind was an indie film that I did in January 2015,” says Griffo. “I got to be in this film that was totally different from The Thundermans. It has a different tone and I got to work with Daphne Zuniga and Michael Hogan. It was really cool to work with them.”
The second movie is called Apple of My Eye, where Griffo plays a blind boy named Sebastian who helps Bailey (Avery Arendes), a young girl who lost her sight after an accident, in her search for a guide dog. He befriends her and teaches her that being blind is not the end of the world and that it is possible to have a life worth living. Griffo says that the experience taught him a lot and working with Burt Reynolds was a dream.
“Going into the role, I really had no idea how to play a blind individual and what that really meant,” he says. “The week prior, leading up to going to Florida and shooting that film, it was really cool and rewarding for me to work on something character-wise that was different from myself. Not seeing anything for your whole life changes everything. It was intense and I gained a whole new respect for the deaf, blind, and any disability communities.”
When he isn’t on set, Griffo enjoys playing his guitar, reading, and hanging out with his friends. If he isn’t working, he prefers to be at home. And, if for some reason he wasn’t acting, he says he’d probably be doing music or selling real estate. The leap seems like a big one, but growing up, Griffo’s parents were real estate agents and he would watch them flip houses or renovate them, and he could easily see himself doing the same if he wasn’t acting.
Though he loves music, he isn’t quite ready to put any out. He loves a lot of different genres of music, so he is taking the time to explore them all. As a young man who is maturing, music has meant something completely different for him in the last year than it has in the past. However, don’t lose hope yet! He says when the music is organic and right, he will release it. Until then, he plans to keep fans in suspense.
In the new year, Griffo will go back to shoot season four of The Thundermans, and as for his New Year’s resolutions, he has realized that his career is a part of his life, and as he gets older, he has to work harder. He plans to take work more seriously and set himself up for a future in acting, and he can’t wait to see what he can accomplish.
See more exclusive photos from this shoot in our Dec 2016/Jan 2017 issue, out now!
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Jack Griffo Talks ‘The Thundermans,’ ‘Things Left Behind,’ and More: Photographer: Quavondo, Stylist: Yesenia Cuevas, Grooming: Cherie Combs