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Gotham’s Bruce Wayne Actor Alleges Executives Thought He Looked Too Jewish To Play Batman

David Mazouz poses as Bruce Wayne in a black coat in Gotham.

Hollywood’s failure to cast Jewish actors in heroic or leading roles—even when those roles are Jewish characters—is a long-running pattern. Marvel cast Oscar Isaac to play Marc Spector in Moon Knight, and has possibly cast Joe Locke as Billy Kaplan in Agatha: Coven of Chaos. When Bradley Cooper decided to write and direct a Leonard Bernstein biopic, he donned a prosthetic nose instead of casting a Jewish actor. What is it about Jewish actors that keeps them from landing these roles?

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Well, an unnamed Warner Brothers executive accidentally did us all a favor by saying the quiet part loud.

In a recent appearance on the Mislaibeled podcast, David Mazouz, who played a young Bruce Wayne in the TV series Gotham, reveals that he almost didn’t get cast because of his Jewish looks.

@mislaibeledpodcast

David Mazouz was “too jewy” to play Bruce Wayne in Gotham#mislaibeled #jewishpodcast #gotham #younghollywood

♬ original sound – Mislaibeled

In the video, Mazouz describes auditioning for the part of Bruce Wayne. “I found out that the creatives really loved me the most,” he says. “It was a Warner Brothers produced show, so the Warner Brothers executives really love me, and most of the Fox executives, they love me. There was one person who said that I looked too Jewy to be Bruce Wayne, and eventually he was, you know, overridden. But I almost didn’t get Gotham basically because I had curly hair, which is why my hair is straight in the show.”

I’ve written before about the bias against what people consider “Jewish looks.” In the popular imagination, we Jews are not sexy. We have frizzy hair, big noses, and hairy bodies. Jewish men are nebbishy, weak, and bookish, while Jewish women are loud and abrasive. In reality, Jews are so diverse that there’s no single trait that defines us—not even when Jews belong to a particular ethnic group, like Ashkenazi or Sephardic Jews. More than that, though, mainstream culture isn’t willing to ask itself why features like naturally curly hair are considered unattractive.

What makes Mazouz’s situation extra hilarious (that is, rage-inducing) is that in the original Batman comics, Bruce Wayne is canonically Jewish. To say that an actor looks “too Jewy to be Bruce Wayne” is like saying they look too white to be Thor.

Jewish writers like Bill Finger and Bob Kane, the creators of Batman, were instrumental in launching the comic book characters that we know and love. It’s tragic that Jewish actors are being pushed out of these roles, and it needs to stop.

(featured image: Warner Bros.)

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Julia Glassman (she/her) holds an MFA from the Iowa Writers' Workshop, and has been covering feminism and media since 2007. As a staff writer for The Mary Sue, Julia covers Marvel movies, folk horror, sci fi and fantasy, film and TV, comics, and all things witchy. Under the pen name Asa West, she's the author of the popular zine 'Five Principles of Green Witchcraft' (Gods & Radicals Press). You can check out more of her writing at https://juliaglassman.carrd.co/.