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Why Michael From The Darkness Looks So Familiar

The unheralded 2016 horror flick The Darkness has been tearing it up on Netflix lately, and with good reason. The little-seen Blumhouse effort from director Greg McLean (The Belko Experiment) serves up plenty of atmospheric chills with its spooky tale of a family haunted by mysterious, malevolent spirits after a family trip to the Grand Canyon. The flick is also loaded with acting talent, including the likes of Radha Mitchell (London Has Fallen), Lucy Fry (Bright), Ming-Na Wen (Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.), Paul Reiser (Mad About You) and Kevin Bacon (you know... Kevin Bacon).

There's one face from The Darkness' stacked cast that you may have had a bit of trouble pinning down, and that face belongs to Michael, the youngest member of the family at the flick's center. Oh, and also the one who kicks off the supernatural spookiness by bringing home an ill-advised batch of souvenirs from an ancient Anasazi plot.

The young actor who plays Michael (or "Mikey," as the family tends to call him) has been in showbiz since before he was a tween, but you'd be forgiven for not recognizing him, because he's something of a chameleon. His name is David Mazouz, and even though he's still only in his teens, he's already amassed the kind of resume that would turn many seasoned actors green with envy.

David Mazouz got his start with guest roles on some popular TV series

Like many actors young and old, Mazouz got his start with bit roles on television. Unlike many of those actors, though, several of these roles came on beloved, popular series, raising the actor's profile considerably before he was even a teenager. 

After making his debut in the 2010 TV movie Amish Grace, he appeared on an episode of the long-running CBS sitcom Mike & Molly the same year. The youngster must have made quite the impression with casting directors with those small roles, because in 2011, Mazouz saw his career start to take off: he popped up on an episode of the Grey's Anatomy spin-off Private Practice, guested on the iconic CBS procedural Criminal Minds, and even appeared as Bert California, the precocious son of James Spader's Robert California, on the classic NBC sitcom The Office — proving his versatility early on.

Mazouz also made his big screen debut during this time, with a small part in the 2011 Sasha Alexander-Rhys Darby rom-com Coming & Going (which unfortunately came and went without anybody much noticing). That same year, the young actor landed a role that would put him in front of his widest audience yet, and help to launch his career in earnest.

David Mazouz starred opposite Kiefer Sutherland on Touch

Mazouz landed the co-lead role on the Fox supernatural drama series Touch, opposite the great Kiefer Sutherland, who took time out from chasing baddies on 24 to play Martin Bohm, the father of Mazouz's character, Jake. Diagnosed as autistic, Jake never speaks; his mother was killed in the September 11 terrorist attacks, and Martin has been struggling to raise him on his own. As it turns out, though, Jake's fascination with numbers and tactile sensations aren't wholly due to his autism; he is one of what a few enlightened individuals refer to as "Righteous Ones," and through his intuitive recognition of patterns and sequences, he's able to see the past, and also the future — which means he may be able to help his father head off a tragedy like the one that claimed his mother.

The innovative series was created by Tim Kring, who also created the hit series Heroes, with which Touch shared a similar aesthetic. Although it lasted only two seasons, the series picked up a dedicated fan base, and it afforded Mazouz the opportunity to work with such talented actors as Sutherland, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Lukas Haas (himself a former prodigious child actor), Maria Bello, and beloved veteran actor Danny Glover. Short-lived though it was, the cancellation of Touch proved to have a silver lining for Mazouz. He quickly moved on to a role that any up-and-coming actor in their right mind would have been ecstatic to land.

David Mazouz played Bruce Wayne on Gotham

That role: the young Bruce Wayne in the Fox series Gotham, which explored the ins and outs of the most corrupt, crime-ridden city in all of fiction through the eyes of a lowly beat cop named Jim Gordon (Ben McKenzie) who would one day rise to become police commissioner. When Mazouz was cast, he offered this about his approach to the role during an interview with Collider: "You've seen it in the first five minutes of every Batman movie, but you never got to explore what Bruce Wayne was going through or his grieving process or what his anger makes him do. At this point in his life, he's angry, he's scared, he's compulsive, and he's lonely. He's looking for any meaning to his parents' death. You'll see the things that he'll do to himself and to other people while he's grieving, and you'll see how he becomes a regular kid again." Keep in mind that at this point, Mazouz was all of 13 years old. 

He appeared in all 100 episodes of Gotham over the series' 5-season run, and yes, he eventually got to appear as Batman — sort of. When the Dark Knight finally made his appearance in Gotham's final episode, a strapping, 6"4' actor was used to fill out the suit — but digital wizardry was used to put Mazouz' face under the cowl, and that was also his voice fans heard, doing his best Batman growl (via Inquirer).

Getting to work with some absolute screen icons, switching genres like a seasoned pro, and delivering a popular rendition of one of the most iconic characters in all of pop culture — not a bad start to a career. It's obvious that Mazouz has a whole lot of brilliant work ahead of him, and we can't wait to see it.