Fantasy 3-D adventure The Gamesmaker arrives in cinemas this weekend, in which veteran actors Joseph Fiennes and Ed Asner appear alongside rising star David Mazouz.
The talented teenager is best known for his role as the young Bruce Wayne, who will one day become Batman, in the smash-hit American TV drama Gotham.
Award-winning Argentinian director Juan Pablo Buscarini has given The Gamesmaker a lavish, almost animated-style aesthetic – comparable to stylish films such as Hugo and Pan’s Labyrinth – creating a magical world that audiences young and old will fall in love with.
Chatting to 14-year-old Mazouz, I can’t help thinking that while audiences may love the film’s wonderful fantasy world, it must have been even more incredible for a 12-year-old, as he was at the time of filming, to be part of it.
“It was a blast filming it,” he says. “We shot for three months in Argentina and I was working every day, sometimes six days a week. It was a gruelling but an incredible experience for me.
“I got to do some really cool things. I went in a hot-air balloon, did a ton of green-screen, CGI stuff – it’s beautiful to look at. When I watched the movie, I couldn’t believe how they did that, because I would be there looking at a green screen and they edited it to make it this shipping yard with tons of cranes – really fun. So many green screens and so much fun.” Mazouz then reveals a little more about the plot and themes of movie.
“It really is fantasy heaven,” he says. “It’s a hero’s story about Ivan, my character. An accident happens with his parents and he is propelled into this magical, wonderful, haunting, scary world of finding out what happened to his parents and learning more about his family and himself, gaining friends and enemies on the way and, ultimately, taking down the bad guy. It’s a great action, fun, kids’ story.”
Although Mazouz has been acting professionally since he was 8 years old – with an earlier high-profile role alongside 24’s Kiefer Sutherland in two seasons of the under-appreciated TV thriller Touch, in which he played an autistic child who did not talk but could see hidden patterns and connections in the world around him – his star is really in the ascendant now, with his high- profile role in Gotham and now this movie putting him among Hollywood A-list company.
Fiennes in particular seems to have made an impression on the youngster. “Joseph Fiennes is awesome, seriously,” says Mazouz. “He’s such a great actor and a great mentor and role model for me. He’s such a nice guy, with a great family – I just loved being on set with him and it was great when I got to see him at [the] Sundance [Film Festival] in March. He’s been in the business so long, but he’s still such a great guy.”
It’s interesting to hear Mazouz talk of role models. The long list of child actors who have gone off the rails, at least temporarily, includes the likes of as Macaulay Culkin and Drew Barrymore – but Mazouz seems confident he won’t be following them down that path. “A lot of things can go wrong with child actors but I don’t think I would fall into that, though I guess that’s what everybody would say,” he says. “I go to regular school, have regular friends – I just have a normal life when I’m not working. A lot of the kids, where things went wrong, it’s because they make acting their whole life. I really have, and want, two completely different lives.”
Asked, then, for a role model among the ranks of former child actors, Mazouz sensibly opts for someone who has largely avoided the off-screen drama of many of his peers. “My biggest idol is Leonardo DiCaprio,” he says. “He’s such a great actor. I’ve never actually met him, but he seems such a nice guy too. He did loads of really great work when he was around my age – he’s still working today and you don’t hear any of these crazy stories about him. He’s my biggest idol for sure.”
Although Mazouz is chatting to me to promote his new movie, there is an elephant in the room that I can’t help addressing. A big, dark, bat-shaped elephant – after all, I’m talking to the young Batman.
“That’s kind of fun,” he says. “What 14-year-old-boy doesn’t want to be Bruce Wayne? It has been an incredible experience.”
With Gotham about to start its second season and taking up “about 10 months out of 12”, Mazouz doesn’t have time for too many other film projects in the near future, although he is set to appear alongside Aaron Eckhart in the horror movie Incarnate.
Looking further ahead, Mazouz says, with his refreshingly unprecocious sense of reality: “I love working in this business and I definitely want to stay in it.
“I really want to direct and write in future but I’m still young – so we’ll wait and see.”