‘Gotham’ star and sophomore, David Mazouz, balances stardom with studies


Ezra Fax

PASSIONATE: Sophomore David Mazouz said that he acts and goes to auditions simply out of enjoyment

By Eva Suissa, Staff Columnist

Last year Shalhevet welcomed a superstar into its family — then freshman, now sophomore, David Mazouz.

David has been acting since the age of 5, professionally since 8, and is currently playing the role of Bruce Wayne in the hit show Gotham on Fox Broadcasting Company. It films in New York City, which means he travels often from his school life in Los Angeles to his acting career in New York.

“A lot of people make the conscious decision ‘Oh, I want to pursue acting,’ because they want to be rich and famous, but that wasn’t really my reason,” said David, who pronounces his name Da-veed. “I just did it because it was fun.”

His first memory of enjoying acting was at a class in the Valley when he was 6 years old. One exercise particularly stood out to David. He and another boy, Lucky, pretended to watch a horror movie at a table, and screamed on the top of their lungs, “Don’t go into the closet!”

“I remember going home at the end of the day thinking, ‘that was exciting – I want to do that some more,’” he said.

Over the years David brewed a deep love for acting.

“I just love between ‘Action!’ and ‘Cut!’ … stepping into the shoes of a different person,” he said.

On his New York set, David steps into Bruce Wayne’s shoes in Gotham. The show is about Bruce’s life before becoming Batman, and his character coping with the aftermath of the murder of his parents — struggling to find out why they were killed, seeking things to connect him to what they were doing, and trying to continue their work. He also falls for a homeless girl on the street.

Although pretending to be Bruce doesn’t affect his personality, David says he and Bruce do share character traits.

“He’s pretty compulsive and can get obsessive, which I am also,” said David. But Bruce is a “great guy, so for me to say that I feel like I’m like him is kind of a little arrogant, but hopefully — I try to be.

“What more affects my life is not playing him (Bruce), not pretending to be him sometimes, but having a job like this in general and being my age,” David said.

Challenges from his job include not being able to see his LA friends for approximately 27 weeks of the 40-week school year.

“It’s a pretty sadly routine life when I’m in New York, because we don’t really have a lot of friends there,” said David. “I’ve tried to make friends … but it’s just so hard with my work schedule.”

In other ways, his life in New York is not routine. Depending on when he needs to be in a scene, David could start filming anywhere from 5 am to 9pm on the set that is about an hour away from where he stays in the Upper West Side.

When he has free time at work – during a lighting break, for example –  he studies with his tutors. By law he is required to have three hours of school learning daily, and must learn for at least 20 minutes at a time.

If he is scheduled to film during a Jewish holiday, his boss is usually very understanding, and will reschedule it, says David.

His Judaic studies tutor, Tani Weissman, is principal Reb Noam Weissman’s younger brother and attends Yeshiva University. Tani Weissman teaches David Talmud, Jewish history, and Hebrew language. His secular studies tutor, Christine Rudakewycz, teaches him English, Algebra 2 Honors and U.S. History.

He doesn’t take Tanach, Art, Chemistry or PE, because he took Chemistry over the summer and does a mix of Krav Maga, wrestling and jiu-jitsu for exercise.

“I think it’s actually easier being here with a one-on-one tutor,” said David, “because if I don’t understand something, I’m just like, ‘I don’t get that, can you explain that again?’”

When he gets home from filming, David turns into an ordinary student.

He will either do his homework, watch TV shows like South Park to decompress, or go to the market with his mom who travels back and forth with him between LA and New York. His ten-pound dog Starlit, a champagne-colored Havanese, also travels back and forth with David.

The rest of his family – his dad and his older sister Rebecca, who also acts – live in Los Angeles full time.

David returns to Los Angeles whenever he’s not in an episode of Gotham. He will usually stay in LA for at least two weeks at a time, because each episode takes that long to film.

Here at home, David transitions from a TV star with a tight schedule to an average teenager who enjoys spending time with friends, going to the movies instead of acting in them, and walking his other dog — a German Shepherd named Delilah.

One of his friends, sophomore Aaron Navon, watches Gotham and enjoys David’s acting.

“David’s a great actor, because he’s portraying Batman as a kid before he really gets a start . . . and being a kind of vigilante,” said Aaron.

Aaron doesn’t think it’s strange seeing Bruce Wayne at school.

“I thought maybe it would be weird seeing him, but I don’t think it’s weird at all – it’s cool,” he said.

Not only does David enjoy going to Shalhevet because he gets to see friends like Aaron, but he likes how open the administration is to new ideas, specifically during Town Hall.

To David, Town Hall is an open space to discuss different perspectives. It has also taught him current events.

“There’s just so much going on around the world that I would not be aware of if it wasn’t for Shalhevet (and Town Hall),” he said.

After high school he plans on taking a break from acting to go to college, but later on he definitely wants to pursue a job in the entertainment industry — either acting, directing, writing or producing.

Continuing to work in the business seems like the natural thing for David to do, since he’s been acting for most of his life. When he was younger, David starred in many shows and movies, including Touch, The Darkness, Criminal Minds and The Games Maker.

And while he loves stepping into the shoes of different people, like Bruce Wayne, at Shalhevet he steps into ones that are a lot more familiar — his own.