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Mililani boy makes mark in TNT’s top-rated launch

By Mike Gordon


In the dreary world of TNT’s new alien invasion hit “Falling Skies,” the future of the human race is resting partly on the shoulders of an 11-year-old boy from Mililani. But don’t worry, Maxim Knight says he’s ready.

“My character resembles hope in the show,” he said. “He encourages his dad to fight the aliens and fight for the resistance. My character has an innocence about him, and I think that will reach out to a lot of people.”

Maxim plays Matt Mason, the youngest son of a history professor — portrayed by “E.R.” alumnus Noah Wyle. They are thrust into the remnants of civilization after an alien invasion. The show’s two-hour premiere last week drew more than 5.9 million viewers, making it the highest-rated cable series launch of the year, according to Nielsen figures released by TNT.

“He’s not completely different from me — he’s a kid,” Maxim said by telephone from Los Angeles. “But he’s thrown into this crazy world full of aliens and guns, and it takes away things. The childhood I have, he doesn’t have. I just have to imagine that I don’t understand what it is going on and I am really scared.”

But “Falling Skies,” which airs here at 7 and 9 p.m. Sundays, is more than a big break for a young actor. It serves as validation for the difficult decision Maxim’s parents made when they divided their family so the boy could have a shot at stardom.

Maxim and his mother, Laura Knight, have lived in Los Angeles since 2007. His father, Stanford Bacon, and Maxim’s 9-year-old brother, Logan, remain in Hawaii.

They see each other on holidays and when there are school vacations. Laura Knight, who retired from the Air Force as a master sergeant in 2002, home-schools her son.

The mainland move came after the family decided that Maxim’s acting classes in Hawaii had run their course and that the best jobs were in L.A. Since then he’s had guest parts on 11 TV shows, including “Brothers & Sisters,” “Criminal Minds,” “Parenthood” and “Three Rivers.” He was a regular voice on the animated series “Special Agent Oso” and will appear in upcoming episodes of “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” and “Wilfred.”

“It is not easy,” Laura Knight said. “It is a huge, huge sacrifice, but we all can see it work by watching Max just absolutely shine in what he is doing. The kid bounces out of bed at 6 in the morning just eager to get to the next audition or to learn the next scene he is doing. I can’t imagine taking that away from him for our comfort.”

The “Falling Skies” pilot was shot in Toronto in the summer of 2009. The show’s episodes — 10 hours over an eight-week season — were shot last July through November. The gap in the shooting schedule means that if you look closely between the first and second hours of the show, you’ll notice less baby fat on Maxim’s cheeks, his mother said.

Practically all he knew when he auditioned was that its top executive producer was one of Hollywood’s biggest names, Steven Spielberg. So far it’s been a great experience for the young actor, who wouldn’t say much about his character’s future.

“I’m not going to give away any spoilers, but my character gets a bit smaller later in the series because the mystery unravels and things go crazy for my dad,” Maxim said. “But there are some points with my character that are pretty scary.”

And that’s a wrap …


Mike Gordon is the Star-Advertiser’s film and television writer. Reach him at 529-4803 or at

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