A 6-year-old boy featured in today’s Super Bowl advertisement for the Volkswagen 2012 Passat has ties to Whitefish.
Max Page, who plays a mini-Darth Vader seeking to perform his powers on household objects including his parents’ new Passat, is the son of 1990 Whitefish High School graduate Jennifer Alderson Page and the grandson of Jim and Connie Alderson, who live in Whitefish six months out of the year.
Jim Alderson is the former North Valley Hospital financial manager who blew the whistle in the early 1990s on widespread Medicare fraud by two of the nation’s largest health-care companies.
He said his grandson has been acting since he was 3 and seems to be a natural.
“He just took to it,” Alderson said.
The Volkswagen Passat commercial, which has been getting lots of pregame hype, will air during the second and third quarters of Super Bowl XLV. With an audience of more than 100 million people, it’s pretty good exposure for an up-and-coming young actor.
Max’s mother said that thanks to YouTube, “Max is officially the coolest kid in school.” She said he had a blast making the ad.
Max apparently won the role because he hadn’t seen “Star Wars” and had no preconceived notion of how to act as Darth Vader, Alderson explained.
“They told him to act like a kid who hasn’t gotten his powers yet, and he did,” Alderson said. “The other kids [auditioning] tried to be too much like the real Darth Vader.”
Darth Vader is, of course, the central character and proponent of the dark side of “The Force” in George Lucas’ “Star Wars” saga.
The Page family didn’t know Max had snagged a national ad, let alone a coveted Super Bowl ad, until he was on the set filming it. It took a full 16 hours over two days to complete the 30-second piece, his mother said.
Max’s resume from his agent, the Buchwald Talent Group, is pretty impressive for a 6-year-old.
He’s been on 42 episodes of the CBS soap opera, “The Young and the Restless,” where he has an ongoing role as Reed Hellstrom, the grandson of Victor Newman. He also has appeared on ABC’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live” and played a basketball player on the Disney Channel’s “Special Agent OSO.”
Max has been in numerous theater productions in the San Clemente, Calif. area. He was introduced to theater and music at an early age because his older stepsister performs in operas, and when he expressed interest in acting his parents found a local theater.
He has been in numerous theater products over the past three years, including “Aladdin” and “Grease.”
His first theater teacher saw the boy’s potential and encouraged his parents to seek an agent.
“He has a knack for memorizing lines quickly,” his mother said, “and he’s very directable and smart.
“He found success pretty quickly,” she said, adding that Max also knows what rejection is like. “You’ll go out for 100 auditions and land five things. He knows it’s part of acting.”
Max is a kindergartner at a home-school cooperative that offers classroom instruction and home-school classes alternately. That allows him the flexibility to get to the soap-opera studio about a 75-minute drive away from home when he needs to be on the set.
“He’s a member of the Screen Actors Guild,” Alderson said, explaining that his grandson hasn’t seen many of the movies nominated for Academy Awards since they’re R-rated.
“I tell him, ‘Grandpa would like to see Julia Roberts nominated,”” Alderson said with a laugh.
Coincidentally, Volkswagens and the Alderson family go way back. Alderson drove a VW Karmann Ghia in his college days and when he first moved to Whitefish. Jennifer’s first car was a used VW Rabbit she bought from then-Whitefish Pilot Editor Bart Smith.
According to a New York Times article, Volkswagen has ambitious plans to more than triple sales in the United States by 2018. The new Passat and redesigned New Beetle — which also is featured in a Super Bowl commercial today — are centerpieces for the company’s marketing strategy.
Max and his younger brother, Ellison, 5, have spent time during the summers at their grandparents’ home in Whitefish, where they like to bop around the golf course. Acting is just one of Max’s many interests at the tender age of 6; golf, baseball, soccer, piano lessons and playing games on Wii get varying amounts attention.
Today the Pages are hosting a family Super Bowl party.
“Max will root for whoever’s ahead in the fourth quarter,” his mother said. “He rides the fence a lot.”
To view a preview of the Volkswagen ad, go to http://www.businessinsider.com/super-bowl-commercials-super-bowl-xlv-2011-2
Features editor Lynnette Hintze may be reached at 758-4421 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.