‘Gotham’ Star David Mazouz Talks Batarangs, Dogs, And His Favorite Sephardic Passover Custom
Gage Skidmore

Check out our interview with the 17-year-old actor who plays a young Bruce Wayne on the hit Fox TV show.

Currently in the second half of its fourth season, Fox’s “Gotham” takes place in a time before Batman. Villains like Solomon Grundy, the Riddler, and the Penguin run rampant in a corrupted city where Thomas and Martha Wayne were gunned down in cold blood. The only beacon of hope is a young, optimistic cop by the name of James Gordon (Ben McKenzie) who wants to clean up this mess best he can.

Meanwhile, a young Bruce Wayne grapples with his demons, mainly the tragic loss of his parents, which send him toward the ultimate path of becoming the Caped Crusader. This iteration of the young billionaire is portrayed by David [pronounced ‘Dah-Veed’] Mazouz, a 17-year-old actor who also happens to be a Sephardic Jew from Los Angeles who attends the Shalhevet Modern Orthodox high school. His father and mother are from Tunisian and Greek, respectively, and they’ve taught him a few interesting “minhagim,” or customs.

You can find out one of them in our interview with Mazouz, where we chatted about his television role, charitable work, and the best practices for disposing of the 10 drops of wine during the Ten Plague portion of the Seder.

New York Blueprint: You’ve played a young Bruce Wayne on "Gotham" for almost four years now. What’s the experience been like and what do you feel that you’ve contributed to the role of Batman?

David Mazouz: It’s been great. There’s been so many different parts of playing this character, playing Bruce Wayne, being on the show in general. It meant that I had to move across the country, so that changed my life in a very big way. Playing the character, being a part of this canon, being part of this 80-year mythos also changed my life in a huge way. And also, just being able to play such a complex, rich, very emotional, and pained person at 12, when I first booked the role, to now--to 17--is really a blessing. Most kid roles consist of nothing more than being the kid of the main character of whatever show you’re on. So, being able to have such a rich storyline and such rich emotions, and complexities is really awesome.

And what do I think I’ve contributed to the role of Batman. Well, to the role of Batman, I would say nothing, actually because I have not been playing Batman. But to the persona of Bruce Wayne, I think I’ve contributed a deeper understanding of his background and why he is the way he is, why he’s so strong. And that’s not just me, that’s the writers [on] the show, displaying how a rich 12-year-old can become somebody as strong-willed as Batman.

NYB:  As a self-proclaimed comic book nerd, do you have a favorite Batman-specific moment, run, or arc?

DM: [A] moment is tough because there are so many many great moments. I think my favorite story probably is The Killing Joke [by Alan Moore and Brian Bolland] and no. 2 would probably be Long Halloween [by Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale] … One of my favorite moments is actually not in either of those books I just mentioned, it’s in Batman: The Court of Owls by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo, which is one of my favorite series and that specific book is also one of my favorites. It’s at the end of that when he wakes up in the Court of Owls and you can see through the artistry, it’s amazing how they do this, but you can see he’s in so much pain.

They’ve really beaten him down, he doesn’t know where he is, he’s been there for a long time, he’s a mess. You see the Court of Owls people surrounding him, coming on to him and you think that that’s it, that’s the end of Batman. And nobody saves him, you know he’s gonna get out of it, but I thought when I was reading it, I was like ‘Oh, OK, somebody’s gonna bust through the doors and save him.’ But no, he saves himself. He finds the strength, even though he’s been exerting so much energy and so much pain. You can just tell that he is so, so, so hurt, physically and emotionally in every single way, but he stills finds the will within himself to get himself out of that situation. I think that’s the definition of Batman, somebody who is more strong-willed than anybody that I know, at least.




Courtesy of Gage Skidmore

NYB: Since the show is a prequel to the Batman story, is there a moment from the comics you’d like to see on the show within the parameters of the universe that’s been set up already?

DM: It’s hard to pick specific moments. This isn’t really a moment, but this is just a thing that applies to all of the Batman mythos. I would love to see, besides other characters coming in— others characters outside of the Batman universe coming onto the show and in the Batman universe that haven’t appeared on the show coming onto the show—besides that, I would say one of my things that I’d really like to see is Bruce’s liking towards batarangs. That’s his weapon of choice, that’s what he uses to take down the bad guys, to blow things up, etc. But essentially, at their core, batarangs are basically throwing knives. I always thought it would be cool if Bruce Wayne could [, because we’ve already established that Bruce Wayne doesn’t kill on the show, because we’ve already made it to that point. And so, Bruce never has a gun whenever he goes out, he always kind of just uses his fists as weapons, but I would love it if he goes to Alfred [Sean Pertwee] and says ‘I need something stronger, I need a weapon. It can’t be a gun, what could it be?’ And together, they come up with some cool, decked out throwing knives and that kind of slowly can transform into batarangs when he takes on the mantle of the bat.

NYB: You’re currently involved with animal-related charities, which is awesome. What drove you to want to get more involved in the world of giving back?

DM: It was never really like a conscious thing, I knew that I always wanted to help whenever I could. I guess that was always in my nature and I have two animals, I have two dogs currently. I had another dog growing up who passed away when I was about eight or nine and I’ve never gone without having a dog in my house. I had like a month between the passing of my [first] dog and my dogs that we have now … I have a German Shepard and she’s turning nine in August. Her name’s Lilah. And I have a Havanese whose name is Starlet, who just turned 9 in February.  

I’ve always loved animals to death, my girls are the most important thing to me besides my family. Best Friends is the organization that I’m most involved with, and I got involved with them originally [at the beginning of Season One]. They were having Super Adoption in New York and so Fox sent out an email to the cast and asked if anybody wanted to go to the Super Adoption and help out. I jumped at the opportunity and I knew that it was my responsibility as somebody who was able to do that to help these animals who need all the help that we can give them.




Courtesy of Fox

NYB: Since you are a Sephardic Jew, do you have any particular favorite traditions like getting to eat rice on Passover?

DM: [laughs] Rice on Passover is nice. Speaking of Passover, also because it’s coming up, the one that came to my mind just now is during the Seder when you dip your pinkie in the wine. [It’s] both my parents’ customs, my dad’s Tunisian — he was born in Tunisia and he grew up in France — and my mom’s Greek. Both of them have the custom [but just] my dad takes his wine that’s on the plate from the makot [meant to symbolize the Ten Plagues of Egypt] and you put it in the toilet and you flush it down the toilet. It’s not one that a lot of my friends do, so it’s kind of like a specific custom to my family, which I always thought was cool.

NYB: A good number of super heroes, including Batman, were created by Jews. What are your thoughts on continuing that “heritage” so-to-speak through your role?

DM: It’s amazing. I don’t think that’s a coincidence. I think a lot of Jewish values are values that these characters hold. There’s a ton of overlap and being able to continue to bring these traits and these values and these legends that we can all aspire to, just [being] really good people. To continue to bring those characters into the homes of people all over the world is a blessing and it’s something that I wish to do as much as I can in the future.  

NYB: With "Gotham" back on the air now, how should fans prepare themselves for the rest of Season 4 and a possible Joker reveal?

DM: I don’t think you can prepare yourself for the rest of Season 4, it’s just very, very, very crazy. The only way to prepare to yourself is to watch every Thursday night at 8 p.m. This half especially, it’s particularly insane. There’s a lot of characters that we’ve seen over the course of four years, villains especially, are gonna come back and team up and just wreak havoc on "Gotham," which is nothing new, but it’ll affect characters in a very new way, especially Bruce and Bruce’s road to vigilantism will be propelled in a manor unseen on the show before.

NYB: Are there any other comic book-related dream projects you’d like to be a part of?

DM: There’s a ton. Now that I’ve gotten into the world of comic books, I’m much more knowledgeable about them and there are so many. I mean, Batman is my favorite now and that’s probably because [of] my bias, you know, playing Bruce Wayne, of course. He is currently my favorite. After seeing "Justice League," I would love to do something involving Aquaman. I think that could be really cool; I absolutely fell in love with the way Jason Mamoa did that character and I like water too.

 

 

David Mazouz

Gotham

Fox

Batman

Bruce Wayne

DC Comics

DC

Gotham City

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