David Mazouz is protecting Gotham City while at the same time learning the Talmud. Mazouz, who plays a young Bruce Wayne on Fox’s hit TV series “Gotham,” proudly acknowledges his commitment to a Torah-observant lifestyle while pursuing his career as an actor. Born in Los Angeles, California, Mazouz is currently a student at Shalhevet High School.
Mazouz describes his story as somewhat unique. Most kids in the entertainment industry were either encouraged by parents or had a dream from a very early age to become an actor. He doesn’t fall into either category. His older sister was interested in acting classes and despite his mother’s reluctance about the entertainment industry, she allowed her to enroll in a class that he subsequently attended as well. There were not many options available for them as classes were typically offered on Saturdays, which conflicted with Shabbat. Fortunately, they were able to find something on Sundays. The coach for that class is still David’s coach today and according to Mazouz has shaped his career in unimaginable ways.
Initially, he and his sister both started taking acting classes as more of an extracurricular. “It was cool,” he explained. Mazouz didn’t really plan to pursue acting as a potential career. He began doing commercial workshops and was discovered by an agent. He did commercials for a year thinking it would be a good nest egg for college, but didn’t really think much beyond that. However, from there he was referred to theatrical auditions, and in 2012 he landed his first big break, co-starring on the Fox television series “Touch” alongside Kiefer Sutherland. The two are still in touch on a regular basis. “He is a very dear friend and I have learned so much working with him. He was a father figure and I will always be grateful for what he taught me in my formative years when first entering the industry,” Mazouz remarked. In 2014, Mazouz was cast in the role of the young Bruce Wayne in the Warner Bros. production for Fox’s “Gotham.”
A junior in high school, Mazouz works hard to maintain his grades in both secular and Judaic studies. While in New York filming the show he works with a tutor who keeps him up to date with the curriculum at school so that when he returns to California he is able to attend regular classes at Shalhevet. When asked how his newfound stardom has affected his relationships with his friends, he says that he is just a classic kid and his friends see him as the same guy he was prior to landing a role on “Gotham.” Many of his friends have known him before his involvement in the show, but even his newer peers embrace him as a regular guy. “Once you establish a relationship with someone, it’s fairly easy to get past that,” Mazouz explained. “After I form a connection with someone, he or she no longer sees me as the kid from “Gotham,” rather a real person who has qualities of his own.”
Mazouz successfully balances his Orthodox lifestyle and his career with the help and guidance of his parents and teachers. People understand his religious obligations and he works within those parameters, he said. Mazouz joked that he has become sort of a halachic authority on the set for other Jews who are unaffiliated. His rabbi, whom he calls his moral compass, explained to him that he would be in situations where he had to be authoritative and it has definitely been the case from time to time. Mazouz believes Judaism has always provided him the direction he needs. “Judaism is the core of my identity,” he said. “I am a proud Jew and I wear that badge with dignity.”
Mazouz’s message to kids his age who are aspiring to achieve something that might seem unattainable is never give up. If you believe you have the potential to do something, he recommends to work hard and never compromise your standards. “A lot of people expect success to happen overnight, but it takes time, effort and rejection to get anywhere. People will always say no to you but you have to keep moving ahead.”
When he is not on set filming or keeping up with schoolwork, Mazouz enjoys walking his dog, watching TV and hanging out with friends like ordinary teenagers do. As for what the future brings he cannot be sure, but for now he is busy being Batman. “Gotham” can be seen Thursday nights on Fox at 8/7 Central.
By Andrea Nissel