Adler was born in Queens, New York, the eldest son of Lisa (nėe Kobrin) and Doug Adler. A year after Adler was born, his family relocated to Fountain Hills, Arizona, then to Scottsdale, Arizona. Adler attended Horizon High School, where he was a First Chair All-State show choir member. After graduating, he moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career in acting. Adler has a younger brother named Jake, born in 1992.
After various roles in a number of productions, Adler was cast in a minor recurring role in the Fox television series Glee as school jock and bully Dave Karofsky. Glee creator Ryan Murphy was impressed with his acting and wanted to write more with him. In the November 2010 episode "Never Been Kissed", written to tackle the issue of LGBT youth bullying, Karofsky is revealed to be a closeted gay teen. Adler had previously questioned his character's motivations, but was surprised by the scene in which Karofsky kisses the object of his bullying, openly gay student Kurt Hummel (Chris Colfer).He received a positive response via the social networking websites Twitter, Tumblr and Facebook, and commented that he was "glad to represent such a large group of people". He expanded on this, saying, "I've gotten so many messages from people all around the world these last couple of days thanking me because either they are Karofsky, they were Karofsky or they know a Karofsky." The character eventually gives up his bullying and makes his peace with Kurt, but he remains closeted. Adler has been praised for his performance in episode 3x14, "On My Way", during which, after his character is outed, he attempts suicide.
In October 2013 it was announced that Adler will star as Tank, Bay's college friend on Switched at Birth (TV series).
Following the Glee episode "Never Been Kissed", Adler was contacted by the It Gets Better Project, an internet based project founded by Dan Savage and his husband, Terry Miller, which aims to prevent suicide among LGBT youth. Adler recorded a heartfelt video for the project, offering words of hope and encouragement for kids and teens facing bullying due to their sexual orientation. Through playing one of the most well-known bullies on television, Adler offers viewers insight and advice, telling viewers, “most bullies are extremely insecure, and want to knock you down a peg to feel better about themselves. So, being who you are is what's awesome. It's what makes you special, interesting, fun to talk to, [and] desirable."
Adler has also worked with the Muscular Dystrophy Association to help raise awareness of the hereditary muscle diseases. Adler's mother and grandmother have died from Facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy, also known as FSH or FSHD. Because of the support that his mother gave him in becoming an actor, he feels that devoting time to raising money for MDA is a way for him to return the favor to her.
Adler, under "Team Max" is the host of the Celebrity Charity Walk 'n' Roll for FSH Muscular Dystrophy to help raise funds directly for FSH MD research which is one of the most prevalent of all muscular dystrophies. The walk is for the benefit of the FSH Society, which is the largest grassroots organization of its kind solely dedicated to finding a treatment or cure for FSH MD.
|Detention of the Dead||Jimmy||2013|
|23 Blast||Cameron||2012||Independent film|
|Last Resort||Lt. Stern||2012||Pilot Episode|
|The Glee Project||Himself||2011||Guest Judge/mentor|
|Sweet Old World||Groom #3||2011|
|The Defenders||Robert||2010||Episode 1: "Pilot"|
|Cold Case||Rookie '94||2009||Episode 134: "Into the Blue", uncredited|
|Valley Peaks||Anderson Lord Guthrie||2009||Episode 1: "Welcome to the VP"|
|Viva Laughlin||Chuck||2007||Episode 2: "What a Whale Wants"|
|Demons||Guy #2||2007||TV pilot|
|Ghost Whisperer||Craig||2006||Episode 32: "Giving Up the Ghost"|
|What About Brian||Frat Guy #1||2006||Episode 10 : "What About Denial..."|
|Pepper Dennis||Frat Guy||2006||Episode 3 : "Frat Boys May Lose Their Manhood — Film at Eleven"|
|Switched at Birth||Tank||2014||TV series|
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- ^"Authors @ Google: Dan Savage and Terry Miller on the It Gets Better Project". Retrieved 7 March 2012.
- ^Flandez, Raymund (November 16, 2010). "‘Glee’ Bully Max Adler Becomes Anti-Gay Bullying Advocate". The Wall Street Journal. Dow Jones & Company. Retrieved November 17, 2010.
- ^Holmes, Linda (November 16, 2010). "Remember That Bully From 'Glee'? He's Got An 'It Gets Better' Video".NPR. Retrieved November 17, 2010.
- ^"Popular TV Show Cast Members Take a Stand Against Bullying". WTTG. Fox Broadcasting Company. November 15, 2010. Retrieved November 17, 2010.
- ^"MDA Matters Spring 2011". Quest Magazine Online. Muscular Dystrophy Association. March 31, 2011. Retrieved April 30, 2011.
- ^Velez, Tania (July 1, 2011). "Glee's Bully Shares a Softer SIde with MDA". Quest Magazine Online. Retrieved September 6, 2011.
- ^Schillaci, Sophie (May 17, 2011). "'Detention of the Dead' brings 'Glee,' 'Twilight,' 'Greek' and 'Hard Times' alumni together". Zap2it. Tribune Media Services. Retrieved August 4, 201.