Gotham interview: David Mazouz on Bruce’s Batman evolution, hopes for Jerome return

David MazouzGotham season 4 will be coming back to Fox starting on Thursday, September 21, and based on all of the promotional material out there, this looks like an enormous season for Bruce Wayne. At the end of season 3 he seemed ready to step into the role of crime-fighting vigilante, and that’s something that the show will be exploring in the new season. Bruce will move towards becoming Batman (as he’s destined to be), but also more than likely experience some bumps and bruises along the way.

In leading up to the premiere, we had a chance to discuss all things Bruce Wayne with none other than David Mazouz, who knows the show and this character very well after 4 seasons of being on Gotham. Below, Mazouz explains why this season feels so different, the rift coming between Bruce and Alfred, and also a particularly exciting episode for his character that you’re not going to want to miss!

CarterMatt – The last season of the show ended with Bruce putting on the mask for the first time, and then you’re coming back this season with all sorts of Batman hype and even ‘A Dark Knight’ as the tagline on the promotional material. Does this season feel different or more special in some way?

David Mazouz – Bruce is a vigilante this year, which is a huge change from anything that I’ve gotten to do on the show previously. Bruce is becoming Batman in every sense there is. I really feel like all of his morals, and his public persona are going to be developed this year. I feel like at the end of [season 4], he will be extremely similar to the Batman that we know. We’re getting there rapidly, and the writers aren’t shying away from that narrative. They’re pushing some of the decisions that they made at the end of last year with Bruce as a vigilante. It’s beyond exciting for me and I’m over the moon doing it. I couldn’t express more how, for Bruce at least, very, very different this is from previous seasons. Bruce is out there kicking butt and wearing a mask and creating gadgets and making allies. He’s becoming very involved in Gotham.

I would assume that with all of that, you’re going to be more involved in some of the action this season. Has there been different training for that?

There’s way more fighting among the main characters this year, and the stunt guys actually got us some pads and some boxing bags [to practice]. Whenever we’ve got any free time on set and we want to hit the bags and practice our kicks, they really encourage it. Training has become much more intense; everyone’s more focused on it. For me specifically, I’ve continued with my routine, but whenever I have any free time I really try to learn some new martial-arts moves and everything in that regard.

I feel like relationships really are at the heart of what Gotham is, so after what happened to Alfred in the finale with [Bruce effectively killing him] thanks to Ra’s al Ghul’s manipulation, where is their relationship going to be?

It’s funny that you bring up relationships being the foundation, because I really agree with that. With Bruce in general this season there’s an overall theme of his relationships being broken in harsh and brutal ways. When it comes to the people on the show he is closest to, he will go long periods of time where he is completely disconnected to them — especially Alfred. He is the closest character to Bruce on the show, but they go through an extremely rough patch this year, rougher than we’ve ever seen times five.

Starting season 4 things seem to be normal on the surface, and both characters don’t want to talk about [Bruce killing him]. I think that’s kind of normal, and that’s something that you see a lot of early on in, Characters don’t want to talk about tragedies and the horrific things that happened. Everybody is kind of pretending that everything is okay, but really it’s not and those demons start to come out as the season progresses.

Alfred and Bruce Wayne are no exception to that. They’ve obviously went through a really difficult time at the end of season 3, and it was kind of surprising when I first read season 4 and thought ‘oh, they’re kind of normal again. This feels like a conversation that they could’ve had at any point in the show.’ Yet slowly, you see the effect that [Bruce killing Alfred] has on Alfred in terms of what it meant, in terms of the Lazarus Pit, and in terms of their relationship being shattered in such a harsh way. Bruce actually had the capability to kill someone who looked after him for his entire life.

Aside from Bruce the vigilante, what’s coming up for Bruce the person? Will he cultivate his public life more? Has he become better at compartmentalizing these two worlds?

Yeah. I love this idea in the Batman mythos that Batman wears the mask, but Bruce Wayne is really Batman’s mask. Batman is the real guy. That’s the real version of Bruce and who he wants to be and vigilante Bruce is what he is becoming. Absolutely there is this other side of him, this public side, that he’s portrayed to the rest of Gotham.  That becomes very different from the Bruce we’ve known and seen the past few years.

But Bruce having the mask and having this vigilante identity will impact all of his relationships, whether it be with Selina, Gordon, with Lucius, and especially with Alfred. I think that the vigilante Bruce is the real Bruce in season 4.

I know that for me, one of my favorite episodes and performances of yours was the end of the Jerome arc in season 3 with the carnival scene and the showdown. After all of that, are you asking the writers when Cameron [Monaghan] is coming back?

I have asked, I don’t know the answer myself. I haven’t gotten a straight answer.

The truth is that last year he came in at the end of episode 12 and was there [until episode 14]. I didn’t know he was coming back until we started shooting episode 11, and I don’t think any of us knew for sure. I think it was very much a last-minute thing and the writers didn’t want to reveal anything before they knew for sure and everything was 100%.

I remember shooting episode 10, though, and ever since his big arc at the start of season 2 our set dressers will always put little ‘ha ha ha’ signs at the back of any location that we were in. I took a picture in front of one, and I thought that maybe he could be coming back — I had heard rumors, but I didn’t actually think it would happen. I had just put it on Instagram to tease the fans. Then a couple of days later I found out he was coming back (laughs). I do remember when [I learned]: John Stephens had sat me down and told me that Jerome was coming back and I was like ‘okay, great.’ I was so excited. Then, he told me what I was going to be doing with him and I was over the moon.

If he’s coming back this year I don’t know about it yet, but it wouldn’t surprise me, because last year it was so last-minute. I really hope they explore the Bruce – Jerome storyline even more.

After he was gone for so long, did you expect to ever see Scarecrow on the show again?

Yeah, I did. I’ve been wondering when it would come ever since season 1 after Jonathan Crane had the arc with his dad. I figured they would bring him back eventually. I was waiting for it for a long time, and a couple of weeks before we came back for shooting I read an article that somebody did with one of the writers saying that Scarecrow would be back. I was like ‘finally.’ It’s been three years.

Is there any scene coming up this season that you’re especially excited for people to see?

I feel like everything I do I’m really proud of, but there’s something in episode 7 that was one of the most fun days of work that I’ve ever had. I don’t know how it will look. Let’s just say this: I thought fight scenes were fun. When you see it, you’ll be like ‘oh, I know what he means’. It was a blast. I can’t freaking wait to see what it looks like.

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Want some additional news on Gotham?

You can head over to the link here to see a video preview for the upcoming season, and rest assured we’ve got even more great stuff where this comes from. The new season starts on Thursday, September 21 at 8:00 p.m. Eastern. (Photo: Fox.)

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