Born in Cavernes, France to Catholic parents, Linder grew up with a passion for the theatre and enrolled in the Bordeaux Conservatorie in 1899. He soon received awards for his performances and continued to pursue a career in the legitimate theatre. He became a contract player with the Bordeaux Théâtre des Arts from 1901 to 1904, performing in plays by Molière, Pierre Corneille and Alfred de Musset.
In the early 1900s, Linder appeared in short comedy films for Pathé, usually in supporting roles. His first major film role was in the Georges Méliès-like fantasy film The Legend of Punching. During the following years, Linder made more than one hundred short films portraying "Max", a wealthy and dapper man-about-town frequently in hot water because of his penchant for beautiful women and the good life. Starting with The Skater's Debut in 1907, the character became one of the first identifiable motion-picture characters who appeared in successive situation comedies. In 1911, Linder began co-directing his own films (with René LePrince) as well as writing the scripts.
|Max Linder and Charlie Chaplin|
After Max Linder's death, Chaplin dedicated one of his films: "For the unique Max, the great master - his disciple Charles Chaplin".