Even as his career shifts into overdrive, Max Minghella still makes time to stop and smell the refurbished leather. Son of the late filmmaker Anthony Minghella (The Talented Mr. Ripley, The English Patient), who passed away in 2008, the 26-year-old British actor dreams of eventually acquiring the perfect Los Angeles home and filling it with beautifully crafted vintage objects, and today he plans to chase that fantasy up and down Beverly Boulevard.
The Columbia University graduate, who portrayed Winklevi confidant Divya Narendra in last year’s Oscar-nominated Facebook saga The Social Network, has played everything from a prickly and precocious director (How to Lose Friends and Alienate People) and a charming brooder (Terry Zwigoff’s criminally underrated Art School Confidential), to George Clooney’s teenage son (the 2005 oilindustry thriller Syriana).
Next month, Minghella will reunite with his former on-screen dad for a lesson in dirty politics in The Ides of March. “I hadn’t seen him since I was about 17, so it was a lovely reunion,” he says. “George has always been so generous with me.” Written and directed by Clooney, who also stars in the film, the political thriller features Ryan Gosling, Evan Rachel Wood, and Philip Seymour Hoffman. In it, Minghella plays Ben Harpen, a campaign worker for Clooney’s Governor Morris. “It’s based on a play I’m obsessed with,” he says, referring to Beau Willimon’s Farragut North, itself loosely based on Howard Dean’s 2004 Democratic presidential primary campaign. “I’ve never been more excited to be a part of something.”
Before the year’s out, he’ll also tackle two different but equally frightening monsters. The first, a scary space invader in the 3D sci-fi thriller The Darkest Hour, which he calls “a big, fun popcorn movie.” The second, his graduating class in Ten Year, an ensemble comedy (starring Channing Tatum, Rosario Dawson, and Ron Livingston) about a high school reunion.
A bowl of steaming mussels interrupts his excited banter about these upcoming projects, and as soon as the dish is placed in front of him, he digs in. “I come here more than any other place,” he says of Café Stella, a cozy, casual French restaurant in Silver Lake. Surprisingly, it’s not baguettes and berets he’s reminded of, but the annihilation of all mankind.
Café Stella – 3932 Sunset Boulevard, 323-666-0265 What I love about this place is that your table always somehow expands, but never with people you don’t want to see. I go with my friends and my girlfriend, and we always have fun. I don’t have a “usual,” but I normally get the mussels. The short ribs are also amazing. A lady recently said it always feels like you’re in Rome when you’re here. Speaking of traveling, Russia [where Minghella spent four months filming The Darkest Hour] was really intense. We got hit by the hottest summer in over 1,000 years, then we had terrible smog [the result of wildfires caused by the heat wave], so we had to shut down and evacuate for about three weeks. We were basically shooting an apocalyptic movie during the apocalypse.
American Rag – 150 South La Brea Avenue, 323-935-3154 I’ve gotten such great stuff at this shop: beautiful flannel shirts, a pair of old, fucked-up boots. It has this odd dynamic, which I love, of serving food and selling clothes all in the same space. Their breakfast is amazing. I’m not a massive shopper, to be honest, but I do appreciate beautifully designed stores. I figure that since we’re doing a photo shoot, it makes sense to choose somewhere photogenic.
Rehab Vintage – 7609 Beverly Boulevard, 800-668-1020 This place has the craziest furniture in the world. I’ve never bought any of it because I can’t afford it, but I love coming here and fantasizing about the beautiful house I don’t own. They’ve got these great desks and cool industrial fans. There’s an amazing safe that I really want, but I think it probably costs about the same amount as my apartment. I’d love to fill it with all my secrets.
New Beverly Cinema – 7165 Beverly Boulevard, 323-938-4038 The last thing I saw here was a Lost in Translation/Somewhere double bill. I’m a big Sofia Coppola fan, and watching those films back-to-back was a transcendent experience. But I saw them with other people and it felt like they were reading my diary. I wouldn’t say I necessarily relate directly to any one character, but there was something about the experience that was so personal, and it felt invasive to have other people with me. I was weirdly traumatized for about a week afterward. I went into a massive depression.
Beverly Laurel Motor Hotel – 8018 Beverly Boulevard, 323-651-2441 I used to stay here when I first came to LA. Swingers diner is built into the hotel, and it’s one of very few 24-hour restaurants in the city. The hotel itself is affordable and interesting—totally unpretentious people stay here. A lot of the LA hotels can be such scenes, and I’m definitely not a nightlife person. I do, however, like places that are lit up at night, like the Griffith Observatory. I also like the shitty seats at the back of Dodger Stadium. One of my favorite things about LA is that it’s full of lights after dark.
Photography by Elias Tahan.