Interview: ‘David Mazouz’ Talks Gotham

Interview by by James Lindorf

David (pronounced Dah-veed) Mazouz began acting around 9 years old and has been a busy young man ever since. He already has 15 credits to his name, including four seasons of the hit Fox series Gotham, where he plays a young Bruce Wayne. You’ve also seen him in acting alongside greats like Kevin Bacon and Radha Mitchell in The Darkness or with Kiefer Sutherland in Touch. You can find one of his first starring roles as Ivan Drago in The Games Maker, currently streaming on Netflix. It is a 2014 fantasy adventure film that also features Ed Asner, Joseph Fiennes and Tom Cavanagh, as Ivan tries to save his town from the evil Morodian. Getting the chance to interview David was a great experience, and it was everything one could hope for when trying to interview a celebrity. His publicist was responsive and helpful. His mother was involved in every step, which is reassuring, given the current Hollywood climate. David was friendly and talkative. If you want a chance to support a talented young man, watch Fox on Thursday nights, or check out one of his many projects available on Netflix.

Bruce Wayne’s background and life experiences are very different than most. Does he feel like a normal teenager in an extreme situation to you or are his reactions just as extreme?

If all things were equal do you think you could follow the same path? I think it is a mixture of both. He is an amazing person, regardless of his situation, but it is a very unique situation. Having your parents murdered in front of you is something most kids don’t have to deal with. I think most kids, myself included, would live in lifelong fear if that happened to them. I don’t think they would ever think to try and stop that for others. Someone might create an organization or something, but definitely not go down Bruce’s path. He has an extreme moral compass and level of determination, so if I had to say its one over the other, I would say it is his nature over his nurture in his extraordinary decision making.

Which of Gotham’s villains would you find most intimidating if you ran into them in real life and why?

They are all really awful and scary, but I think I would have to either say Jerome or Penguin. Jerome is unpredictable and he could kill you for no real reason. it’s not really fair because I may not be able to do anything to save myself and I just died because he didn’t like my shirt. With Penguin yes, he is a bad guy and certain things will make him angrier than others but you at least have a chance to save yourself. I think that may be more intimidating because you have some control over your fate instead of it being completely random.

Whether it is after one more season or ten, what do you think the logical conclusion of Gotham will be, and if the DCEU is still going strong at that point would you want to explore a more adult Batman in a movie?

I think the logical conclusion is where things pick up in Batman Year One. I don’t know if Bruce will go out of the country for an extended period of time. I would love that because it would tie into the current mythos before Gotham, but it would be logistically difficult. We would either have to shoot outside of the country for an extended period or write Bruce out of the show for a while. Both of which probably wouldn’t happen, but I think the logical conclusion is Bruce in the bat suit, Gordon with the mustache and glasses, and the bat signal on top of Gotham Central. That’s kind of where I see the show concluding, us taking characters from a previously unknown point A to a point B, which is where we know who these people are and what adventures they have ahead of them.

If the DCEU is still going strong at that point do you think you’d want to do Batman Year One as a film?

Given the opportunity, I think that would be great. I don’t know if it is realistic, but I think it would be great if we could do a Gotham movie where all the characters from Gotham are their characters in the movie. I think it would be a great way to finish things off for the fans of the show.
TV shows can have pretty hectic production schedules, so you may not have much free time, but when you do, what are your go to activities?
The schedule is hectic, and might be more hectic after I turn 18, which I’m not excited for. This probably sounds uninteresting and cheesy, but I like being normal; taking my dogs for a walk, hanging out with friends playing PlayStation or just relaxing and watching Rick and Morty.

What kind of dogs do you have?

I have one that stays in LA where I live and one that is small enough to travel with us. The one that comes with us is a Havanese and the one back in LA, which is my baby, is a German Shepard and I really miss her when we are gone.

Young actors are not uncommon in horror movies but I think you have been in more horror movies at this age than the amount of horror movies my wife was allowed to watch at your age. What keeps drawing you back to that genre? Do you think you will keep going back throughout your career, unlike so many people who distance themselves from that style?

I like horror movies but I think horror movies and comedies are tough because you are trying to illicit a physical reaction from the audience. In comedies you are trying to make them laugh and for horror you want them to be actively afraid. I think it is harder than in dramas where you still want people to feel something for your character but they don’t have to have that physical response as well. I never sought out the horror movies I have done. They were available when I was, and allowed me to work with really great people, both directors and other actors. Like how The Darkness fit right in between the pilot and first season of Gotham and gave me the chance to work with Blumhouse. I may not seek out more horror movies, but I am open to it if they are available and interesting.

In The Games Maker you played a character named Ivan Drago. Have you ever had a chance to meet Dolph Lundgren and discuss whose Ivan Drago was better?

When I was shooting that movie, I found out about a month in that there was another Ivan Drago. Then I found out he wasn’t a real person. (I thought it was a real boxer at first.) So far, I haven’t had the chance to meet Dolph Lundgren and I never got the change to ask Juan Pablo, the writer and director of The Games Maker, how he came up with the name Ivan Drago and whether or not it was a coincidence.

You have worked with many great actors and actresses. Is there one that you would say has impacted you more than the rest?

The first one that really comes to mind is Kiefer Sutherland on Touch. That was the first job that I did that was a regular job. Before that I was a guest star, or on set for a day or two. It was definitely in my formative years as an actor. I learned a ton from that job, just working on a regular basis and having such a demanding role. But I think the biggest thing to influence me from that job, that informed the actor I am now, was Kiefer. He was a mentor and a father figure during those two years, and we still keep in touch. He is a very good friend of mine and he is just phenomenal as an actor and a person. He taught me so much by example about how a person and an actor should act.

You have been working in TV and film for the better part of a decade now and I assume you will continue for decades to come. How do you feel about all of the recent revelations of the industry’s darker side and what advice would you give all of the young people already in Hollywood or around the world dreaming of being where you are to make the best of their careers and staying safe while doing so?

When I heard about the first one with Weinstein I am sad to say I wasn’t entirely surprised. I wasn’t expecting it and didn’t directly know these things were happening, but apparently a lot of these things like Kevin Spacey are open secrets. I said I wasn’t surprised, but that wasn’t because of the industry, it was because of the position these people had. They are powerful and people treat them like gods, [as if] they can do whatever they want and think they are untouchable. I think people coming into this business must be careful, but it is hard for me to say, since I have never been in a position like this. There was an acting coach I had, whose name I can’t remember, that was revealed to be a pedophile and assaulted some kids. He used his cover as an acting coach to get in contact with these kids. But I was lucky because my mom was always there, making sure I was safe and not left alone with anyone we didn’t know well and trust. For kids coming into the industry I just say that their guardians, whoever it is, they should protect their kids because they can’t always protect themselves.

Do you have any upcoming projects you want your fans to be on the lookout for? If not, which of your past projects should everyone make sure to check out?

It is tricky because Gotham is 9 and half months (because we still film 22 episodes), and that isn’t much of a hiatus to try and fit something else in. There may be projects available, but then I have to decide if they are worth giving up my last two months of school and down time for. There are a couple of things in the works that are still getting funding, so I can’t really talk about [them] yet. I think Touch, the first three seasons of Gotham, The Games Maker and Dear Dumb Diary are all on Netflix at the moment. It is hard to choose. It is like asking someone to pick their favorite kid. But I have done a lot of different things, for a lot of different audiences, so depending on what you like, you can find something to watch.

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