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Who Is Max Davis, The Mysterious A-List Celeb Who Snubbed Mindy Kaling’s Generous Christmas Gesture In 2016?

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James Franco, Matthew McConaughey, and Will Smith

Grab your mugs and gather ‘round the proverbial fireplace, y’all, because Mindy Kaling just spilled some major tea about an A-list celeb in her new collection of essays, Nothing Like I Imagined. Kaling’s new book touches on a lot of things, including motherhood and raising her daughter, Kit, as a single mother. However, one of the juiciest stories to come from Nothing Like I Imagined stems from Mindy’s Christmas vacation with her father and stepmom in Hawaii in 2016, where she paid for another A-lister’s family dinner — and never got thanked. She only refers to the celeb as "Max Davis", but gives a few clues as to who the mysterious celeb is. 

Who is Max Davis, the A-list celebrity who snubbed Mindy Kaling?

Read on for the best guesses and theories about who the mysterious A-list celeb could be.

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Clues about Max Davis:

As Kris Jenner would say: This is a case for the FBI. First off, let’s take a look at the clues. Mindy writes that she and her family were vacationing on the island of Kauai in December of 2016. They were eating at Duke’s in Waikiki, when a waiter came over and mentioned that she wasn’t the only A-list celeb there. 

“Max is a middle-aged, hugely popular A-list actor who is usually snubbed at awards shows but has amassed an enormous fortune churning out movies that literally every American pretends to hate but secretly loves,” she wrote about the mysterious celeb. Kaling also mentioned that she’d see the actor’s face on billboards for his latest film during that time, which means Max Davis was likely starring in a movie that came out in December 2016 or January 2017.

She then told the waiter that she wanted to cover Max Davis’ family dinner. “He’s with his family. It’s a very large group,” the waiter told her. 

“Oh, I don’t care how big the group is. I want to treat them all,” she replied, thinking of her grand gesture as a Hollywood “investment” that would prompt Max Davis to come over and thank her and invite her to be his co-star in his next big film. However, that dream died pretty quickly, as Max Davis never came over to thank her, and in fact, left the restaurant without saying a word and she never heard from him. 

Fast forward to a year later at Conan O’Brien’s Christmas party, where a tipsy Mindy Kaling spilled her story to Rashida Jones and Conan O’Brien himself. O’Brien, who was friends with Max Davis, told Mindy, “That doesn’t sound like him,” and talked to Max Davis privately at the party. Soon after the whole fiasco, she received an email from Max thanking her and apologizing for not reaching out about her nice gesture sooner. The email apology read:

"Hey Mindy. I always wanted to thank you for that meal and for some dumb reason I never got to it. Truly sorry for that. Thought it was awesome of you at the time I was really blown away that you did that. Anyways, sorry that you thought I was a dick. It would appear that way but it was just a case of having stuff going on a lot and being forgetful. Hope I can thank you in person next time I see you and again thank u for being so nice to me and my family."

So, who could Max Davis be?

1. Will Smith

Will Smith — beloved Fresh Prince actor — has a relatively large family that’s very close to one another and they often take big family vacations together. Smith starred in Collateral Beauty, which came out in December of 2016, and in 2015, he and his wife, Jada Pinkett-Smith, purchased a home on the island of Kauai and spent the holidays there that year. 

The Smith family has a history of owning homes in Hawaii, and although they sold their second Hawaiian hideaway in 2017, the likelihood of them getting away from the hustle and bustle of Los Angeles around the holidays is pretty good. Did their 2015 Hawaiian vacation turn into tradition for the Smith fam? As in, did they go back again the following year? It’s a possibility.

Will Smith’s daughter, Willow Smith, also posted this photo of a very tropical-looking vacation pic on January 2, 2017 — and although the location isn’t geotagged, it may be a clue that the Smith family was in Hawaii over the holidays.


A post shared by ∴ WILLOW ∴ (@willowsmith) on Jan 2, 2017 at 8:59pm PST

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Plus, Will Smith has appeared on Conan O’Brien’s show SO many times, so it’s safe to say that the pair go way back and have been friends for quite some time. In addition, Will Smith hasn't won a huge award for his work in film or television since the 2000s, save for a Teen Choice Award for Choice Sci-Fi/Fantasy Movie Actor for his role in Disney's live-action remake of Aladdin, which would make Kaling's reference to an actor who's snubbed during Awards Season spot-on.

2. James Franco

James Franco has a pretty decent-sized family, and has a reputation in Hollywood for being ... well, James Franco. His holiday movie, Why Me?, starring Bryan Cranston, hit theaters in December of 2016. He’s an A-list actor — no doubt — and let’s be honest: who doesn't have a love/hate relationship with James Franco movies? 

He’s appeared on O’Brien’s show multiple time, and while not the strongest contender for the Max Davis persona, he’s definitely a possibility, given his A-list status and the half-hearted apology that was emailed to Mindy.

3. Matthew McConaughey

Alright, alright, alright. Matthew McConaughey is an A-list actor whose movies everyone enjoys ... right? He and his wife, Camila Alves, have three children together, and it’s widely known that the True Detective actor loves spending time at the beach, which makes him the perfect candidate for the persona of Max Davis — especially if he had his hands full with three young kids. 

His movie, Gold, hit theaters on December 30, 2016, which also means that his face was likely plastered all over billboards at the time. McConaughey was also in Hawaii in December 2016 for the Rock The Troops event, which means he could’ve stayed on the island with his family through the holidays.

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Olivia Jakiel is an editor and writer who covers celebrity and entertainment news. Follow her on Instagram and keep up with her zingers on Twitter