Born in 1946 in Detroit, industrial town of Michigan, USA, where he grew up, Max Thayer was first known as "Michael Thayer", his name on real life credits.
A physical young man, Michael practised many sports and, at the age of 19, joined the US Army for a three years duration. Thinking that becoming an actor could be a pleasant way to make a living, and without any dramatic art formation, he moved to Hollywood, as all naive young men chasing the dream of being an actor used to do. Michael's first step in the actor's world was joining a street theatre company in Venice, California, an experience that soon led him to play on other stages through the United States, especially for an outstanding performance in NY Guggenheim Museum, with director Steve Kent, in the 1972 avant-garde play "Liquid Theater".
A few years later, in 1975, Max Thayer signed his first appearance on silver screens. The film was part of the cult shocksploitation Z trilogy "Ilsa" (Ilsa, harem keeper of the oil sheiks), a serial that built actress Dyanne Thorne's underground glory as a naked infamous Nazi nasty chick torturer.
Max then pursued the adventure in the jungle of Hollywood B-grade flicks with co-starring parts in three other movies : Planet of the dinosaurs, a variation of The Lost World with stop motion animated dinosaurs, Hot Ice, a sexploitation quickie featuring Ed Wood Jr and Do it in the dirt where he found the opportunity to play a dirt-biker by the side of Frank Sinatra Jr. Unfortunately, the film was shot, but never released on screens.
Max in “Planet of the Dinosaurs”.
In the early 80's, Max Thayer's career in movies had brilliant developments. First, Max was hired to play the first part of the violent thriller The Retrievers, directed by Elliott Hong. In this film, Max plays the hero, an FBI agent cheated by his hierarchy, that explodes a few villain's heads. Nowadays, The Retrievers may appear quite out-of-date or poorly directed but still reveals Max was a strong action character performer.
Max in “The Retrievers”.
The generally most appreciated episode of Max Thayer's adventure in action films began when he moved to Asia.
He was recruited by German director Hubert Frank, one of the popes of European softcore exploitation of the mid-80's, for playing the playmate photographer in Story of The Dolls, located in the Philippines and co-starring Tetchie Abgayani, a beautiful (Filip)pin-up already seen before with Richard Harrison in Jun Gallardo's "Intrusion cambodia".
French cover for “Deadringer”.
Then, Max was cast to be the (double) hero of Deadringer, a Teddy Page Filipino film which remains one of the highpoints of the Silver Star Film company productions (managed by K Y Lim, this company produced dozens of action flicks mostly destined to the occidental direct to video market). In this film, Max plays the main character and his bad look alike at the same time, performing [along with his pal Nick Nicholson] some incredible stunts on car roofs or helicopters, shooting tons of ugly villains with an amazing futuristic gun. A great piece of entertainment, for sure.
Max continued slaughtering bad guys in the bucolic No Dead Heroes / Blood Machines, a quite dark tragedy directed by Danilo Jun Cabreira, co-starring Mike Monty, another great face of Filipino action film. Back for the last time to the Philippines in 1988, he also acted in Phantom Soldiers (aka Commando Phantom aka Escape To Nowhere), another war action movie directed by Teddy Page.
French cover for “No Dead Heroes”.
The part that mostly registered Max Thayer's name in collective memory is probably the 'Mac Jarvis' character of Corey Yuen's No Retreat no surrender 2. In this (false) sequel of a Jean-Claude Van Damme actioner located in Thailand, Max delivers a great performance as a funny and punchy war veteran, by the side of Cynthia Rothrock and Loren Avedon, playing comedy scenes as well as action scenes with an apparent facility.
Between two escapades in Asia, Max Thayer also appeared in some Hollywood productions, like Iron Eagle, one of the large video successes of Cannon Production Company (he plays there an Air Force officer) or a few TV series as a guest-star. During the 90's he returned to Hollywood and played credited parts in some indie movies or thrillers (Dominion, Sworn to justice, Marigold, American gun) and small uncredited parts in several blockbusters (Red Dragon, Terminator 3, Pearl Harbor).
Max in "Martial Law 2: Undercover a.k.a. Karate Cop".
Max in “Dominion”.
Max in “Marigold”.
Max in “The Man who wasn’t there”.
Max in “SWAT” (one line of dialogue: "Five, six minutes").
Max keeping an eye on Hannibal Lecter in “Red Dragon”.
The new century saw Max Thayer return to Asia. Indeed, thanks to his long time experience in Asian film industry and thanks to the recent rise of Chinese show business, Max found the opportunity to play in Chinese continental productions. He was cast to be a German chairman in the movie CEO, then was hired to stand as the unpleasant scientist of the Chinese TV series War of gene aka Genic War. Just bet that Max's presence on Chinese TV screens (that means: watched by a billion TV viewers!) will make it possible, for the Great Max Thayer's adventure of being an actor, to keep going.
Max in “CEO”.