Max Thieriot is slightly concerned that people may take “Disconnect” the wrong way.
“I don’t want people to think that it’s a movie that says the Internet is bad,” the actor says. “It’s a wake-up call, showing how disconnected we are from each other in general, how we’ve lost touch.”
In the intriguing indie film directed by Henry Alex Rubin, Thieriot plays a charismatic teen who sells sex on an adults-only website. He comes to the attention of a news reporter looking for a juicy story.
Their interaction dovetails with others whose lives are changed dramatically as the result of online activities: a grieving couple whose money is stolen after the wife finds solace online with a sympathetic stranger, and an awkward high school kid who is truly devastated by two cyberbullies.
To research his role, Thieriot got input from a minor who really did work at a Web porn site, whose own story, in part, is reflected in the film.
Thieriot, 24, instantly loved the unique character, and was slightly nervous he didn’t look young enough to play the part during casting because he had facial hair he couldn’t shave due to a film role (in Nick Cassavetes’ “Yellow”) he was working on at the time.
Although some day he would like to produce and direct, too, Thieriot — who grew up in Occidental and comes from a famed Bay Area family whose businesses include the San Francisco Chronicle and de Young Museum — has come a long way from his first role in 2004’s “Catch That Kid,” co-starring Kristen Stewart.
“It was awesome, a surrealistic experience, I loved it,” he says, noting that he had never taken an acting class, but was simply trying to be real.
Today, he spends more time developing his characters, in movies and on TV, in “Bates Motel,” a re-imagining of the movie “Psycho.”
While filming the series for months in Vancouver, he says he missed his family, friends and the sunshine back in Northern California.
His other tie to the area is a new business, a wine label called Senses he started with two friends. Enjoying the process from start to finish, he says, “It’s a lot of fun — almost like making a movie.”