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Max Pirkis

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Max Pirkis
Born (1989-01-06) 6 January 1989 (age 27)
London, England, United Kingdom
Occupation Actor
Years active 2003–present
Awards Evening Standard British Film Award for Most Promising Newcomer
2003 Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World

Young Artist Award for Best Young Actor in an International Film
2003 Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World

Max Pirkis (born 6 January 1989) is an English actor. Appearing in two productions during the mid-2000s, Pirkis made his film debut in Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World (2003) after the film crew recruited him at his school, Eton College. In a critically praised performance, he won the Evening Standard British Film Award for Most Promising Newcomer and the Young Artist Award for Best Young Actor in an International Film. Two years later, Pirkis was cast in the BBC/HBO television series Rome as Gaius Octavian, a role he held until 2007.

Personal life[edit]

Pirkis was born in London on 6 January 1989.[1] His mother is a publisher,[2][3] and he has a sister.[4] After being educated at Eton College,[5] Pirkis began attending St Catharine's College, Cambridge, where he read Theology. There, he was captain of the college's football team in 2009.[6]


Master and Commander[edit]

Pirkis started his acting in school plays while attending Eton,[1][7] though he never took them seriously.[4] Although unsure what he wanted to do with his life,[8] Pirkis was cast for his first professional role in 2003, when he appeared in the successful film, Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World.[5] The hire occurred after production staff visited Eton to hire boys for the ship's teenage crew.[8] Pirkis attended a workshop and auditions as "a joke", ultimately securing the part of the 13-year-old, eventually one-armed midshipman Lord Blakeney of HMS Surprise.[2][4] Director Peter Weir thought Pirkis "stood out very early on, but not to the extent that you see in the film. That was a complete surprise."[8] According to Pirkis, he was at first "nervous" about acting with Russell Crowe, but changed his mind when he realised that Crowe was "a pretty normal guy."[9]

"Pirkis shows maturity beyond his years and makes you believe that he could lead sailors into battle despite his young age. He seems like what you'd expect Aubrey to be like as a boy."

— Scott Chitwood on Pirkis' performance in Master and Commander.[10]

One of four teenage actors chosen for the film,[9] Pirkis began researching the history of the Royal Navy and the Napoleonic Wars to prepare himself for the role,[4] before ultimately spending six months shooting the film.[3] Weir soon discovered that Pirkis had "an old actor's soul in his body," and consequently gave him more acting challenges.[11] Because his character loses an arm, Pirkis wore a prosthetic stump on set; tucking his real arm to the side, he practised how to write and eat using only his left arm. Pirkis completed the amputation scene in two takes, thinking of the death of a family friend for inspiration.[8]

Soon after being cast in Master and Commander, Pirkis was contracted to be represented by Hollywood talent agency ICM.[5] The income he earned for the film was placed into a bank, making him wait until he turned eighteen.[2] For his role, Pirkis received critical acclaim[12][13] and won the Evening Standard British Film Award for Most Promising Newcomer[5] and the Young Artist Award for Best International Performance by a Young Actor at the 25th Young Artist Awards.[14] Pirkis was also nominated for Best Performance by a Youth in a Lead or Supporting Role – Male at the 4th Phoenix Film Critics Society Awards.[15] Jeremiah Kipp of Slant Magazine praised Pirkis, writing that he "makes a winning impression as midshipman Lord Blakeney, a pugnacious one-armed lad who imitates the masculine bravado of Crowe and the bookish reserve of Bettany."[16]


In 2005, Pirkis made his television debut.[7] Until 2007, Pirkis played Gaius Octavian (later to become Caesar Augustus) in the BBC/HBO television series Rome. Many critics highlighted Pirkis and his character for praise.[17][18] At the beginning of the first season, The Washington Post columnist Tom Shales remarked: "Played both knowingly and innocently by Max Pirkis, he gives the audience something it desperately needs... a character to root for, or at least care about."[19] During the second series, Pirkis was replaced by Simon Woods in order for the show to depict an older version of the character.[20][21]


Year(s) Film Role
2003 Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World Lord Blakeney, Midshipman
2005–2007 Rome Gaius Octavian
2014 The Quiet Ones[22] David Q
2014 Flying Home Jason

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Max Pirkis Biography". BuddyTV. Retrieved 3 July 2012. 
  2. ^ a b c Barker, Lynn (13 November 2003). "Max Pirkis: Hits the High Seas". Teen Hollywood. Archived from the original on 20 August 2012. Retrieved 3 July 2012. 
  3. ^ a b Smith, Lynn (14 November 2003). "Movies; Q&A; Actor's Ship Has Come In". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 3 July 2012.  (subscription required)
  4. ^ a b c d Portman, Jamie (12 December 2003). "Movie Role a Shock to Teen 'Officer'". The Ottawa Citizen. Retrieved 3 July 2012.  (subscription required)
  5. ^ a b c d Reynolds, Nigel (2 February 2004). "Love Actually wins something at last . . .". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 2 July 2012. 
  6. ^ "Attendees at Acheson Gray Sports Day Dinner 2009 on Saturday 25th April 2009". St Catharine's College, Cambridge. 8 December 2008. Retrieved 2 July 2012. 
  7. ^ a b "Rome – this autumn on BBC TWO". BBC. 26 August 2005. Retrieved 3 July 2012. 
  8. ^ a b c d Rich, Joshua (5 December 2003). "Young Man-O'-War". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 3 July 2012. 
  9. ^ a b "Russell is a hero to wee Max". Daily Record. 18 November 2003. Retrieved 19 August 2012 – via HighBeam Research.  (subscription required)
  10. ^ Chitwood, Scott. "Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World". Retrieved 3 July 2012. 
  11. ^ Kagan, Jeremy Paul (2006). Directors Close Up: Interviews With Directors Nominated for Best Film by the Directors Guild of America. Scarecrow Press, Inc. p. 219. 
  12. ^ Outhier, Craig (13 November 2003). "`Master' another win for director Weir". Knight Ridder Tribune. Retrieved 19 August 2012 – via HighBeam Research. Tow-headed newcomer Max Pirkis is fantastic as the courageous ensign, flashing Oscar-worthy chops in the grim yet tender scene where the ship's kind and cultivated surgeon, Stephen Maturin (Paul Bettany), unburdens the boy of his diseased arm.  (subscription required)
  13. ^ Mcgill, Hannah (27 November 2003). "Cinema; Sail of the century". The Herald. Retrieved 19 August 2012 – via HighBeam Research. ...special mention is due to young Max Pirkis, whose turn as the pre-teen Midshipman Blakeney is touching and elegant, as well as making a quiet, unsentimental point about the presence of children in the midst of war.  (subscription required)
  14. ^ "Following are the 2004 SPECIAL AWARDS Recipients.". Young Artist Foundation. Retrieved 3 July 2012. 
  15. ^ "Phoenix Film Critics". Movie City News. Archived from the original on 8 August 2011. Retrieved 18 July 2011. 
  16. ^ Kipp, Jeremiah (3 November 2003). "Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World". Slant Magazine. Retrieved 3 July 2012. 
  17. ^ Bianco, Robert (25 August 2005). "HBO's 'Rome' burns with realistic depiction of ancient life". USA Today. Retrieved 3 July 2012. 
  18. ^ Stanley, Alessandra (21 August 2005). "HBO's Roman Holiday". The New York Times. Retrieved 3 July 2012. 
  19. ^ Shales, Tom (28 August 2005). "No Place Like 'Rome'". The Washington Post. Retrieved 3 July 2012. 
  20. ^ Lowry, Brian (11 January 2007). "Rome". Variety. Retrieved 3 July 2012. 
  21. ^ Bianco, Robert (11 January 2007). "'Rome' goes into decline". USA Today. Retrieved 3 July 2012. 
  22. ^ "The Quiet Ones". Radio Times. 11 April 2014. Retrieved 7 April 2015. 

External links[edit]