NBC Insider Exclusive

Create a free profile to get unlimited access to exclusive show news, updates, and more!

Sign Up For Free to View
NBC Insider Ted

Why Seth MacFarlane Chose Max Burkholder to Play Young Mark Wahlberg in Peacock's Ted Prequel Series

The former NBC Parenthood star takes on Mark Wahlberg’s character John in the new Ted prequel series. 

By Stephanie Gomulka
Ted: TV’s New Favorite Teddy Bear

Ted is going to High School with his thunder buddy John. 

In the original films Ted and Ted 2, Mark Wahlberg (The Departed, The Other Guys) plays opposite Seth MacFarlane’s adult teddy bear who was wished to life. From lady troubles to drinking escapades, Ted and John become inseparable best friends who grow up together.

Who Plays Mark Wahlberg’s Character John in Peacock’s Ted Prequel Series?

Max Burkholder (Parenthood, The Purge) plays high school-era John in the Peacock show. The actor opened up to NBC Insider about taking on the role. 

“There was definitely still nerves walking on [set] for the like the first week or so, but after that, it was just truly one of the most lovely — so lucky to work on it — one of the most lovely, welcoming, professional sets that I’ve ever had the pleasure to being a part of,” Burkholder said. 

However, Burkholder wasn’t really able to speak with Wahlberg before filming the show, he noted.

Finding the right actor to play young John was “a piece of great luck” once they found Burkholder, MacFarlane told NBC Insider. Burkholder stood out during the casting process with MacFarlane calling him “the perfect choice” to “embody a young Wahlberg.”

Split of Max Burkholder and Mark Wahlberg

MacFarlane pointed to his intellect (Burkholder is a Harvard grad) and charm as part of the reason why. 

“His delivery of the jokes was impeccable,” MacFarlane said. “He walked a nice line between a little bit of the confidence and swagger of who Johnny would eventually become in the movies, but at the same time balancing that face that this is a … guy who’s still kind of a loser, as established in the film.”

Would Max Burkholder Ever Do a Parenthood Reboot?

Fans of NBC’s series Parenthood will probably recognize Burkholder as Max Braverman. The hit series was a new take on the 1989 movie Parenthood starring Steve Martin, Joaquin Phoenix, and Mary Steenburgen. Burkholder also guest starred on Grey’s Anatomy and played Charlie Sandin in Universal’s horror film The Purge. 

Kristina Braverman (Monica Potter), Adam Braverman (Peter Krause), and Max Braverman (Max Burkholder) appear in a scene from Parenthood

“[Parenthood] was a reboot unto itself, you know, of the original movie,” Burkholder said when asked if he’d be interested in ever playing a Braverman again. “If anybody wanted to do anything with those characters…with those actors, with that world, I mean, I’d be silly if I didn’t want to return to something like that.”

Burkholder’s character Max was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome early on in the show. The series aired for six seasons starring Lauren Graham, Peter Krause, Mae Whitman, Dax Shepard, and Sarah Ramos as it followed the highs and lows of family life.

“It was such a special show,” Burkholder said. “It was such a special set.”

You can catch Burkholder in all seven episodes of Ted starting on Thursday, January 11 on Peacock.

Read more about: