Michael Maize is a multi-talented actor, who can turn his hand to any character. Perhaps best known for his roles in Mr. Robot and National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets, Michael has most recently been on our screens starring as villain Grady in Gotham.
His filmography shows no signs of slowing down either, with Michael starring in the forthcoming SyFy series Happy, in addition to roles in movie Stano and Lifetime thriller You.
Whilst he often plays a villain or dramatic character on screen, Michael has a heart of gold in real life. A philanthropist through and through, he is an avid supporter of a number of animal and LGBTQ+ charities including Boxer Rescue Los Angeles and The Trevor Project. The actor also enjoys activities such as yoga and meditation in his spare time, and has a passion for the fashion industry.
We recently had the opportunity to ask Michael about his stunning career so far, his philanthropic work and much more.
You’ve recently been on our screens, starring as Grady Harris in Gotham. What attracted you to the role?
I have always wanted to be on Gotham. I love how the show lives outside of the box of normal network television. I am a huge fan of comic book and graphic novel television shows and films; and I feel Gotham is the best of these on network TV. The show is colorful, dynamic, suspenseful and over the top; while still staying grounded and believable. The role of Grady and his gang are closely connected to Oswald Cobblepot and his gang. And Grady also has tie-ins to this season’s new villain, the Scarecrow.
You’re also set to star in SyFy’s Happy! Can you tell us a little about your role in the show?
“Le Dic” is a ruthless, dynamic, sinister arms dealer with a wicked sense of humor. He and Nick Sax (Chris Meloni’s character) have a deep past. In the graphic novel, Happy, you see that Nick Sax comes to Le Dic to try and win some much-needed money at his poker table. Sax gets help from his new friend Happy (an animated blue horse) in trying to win against Le Dic and his table of degenerate henchmen. The TV show sticks closely to the graphic novel in terms of plot and style; but the specifics of how close are hush hush right now. You will find out just how close when you tune in this December!
— Michael Maize (@MichaelMaize) September 26, 2017
Additionally you’ll be in the movie Stano alongside Joe Manganiello and Sofia Vergara. What were they like to work with and what can we expect from the movie?
Joe was extremely cool and personable. I play one of the main antagonists of the film, and through the intense drama of our scenes, we developed a great rapport on set. He had considerable ease with his technique which allowed us to play off of each other and reach some great heights. I only had one scene with Sofia. She was great to work with! I can see why they do so well together as a couple. They are calm, cool and collected while still having great dedication and focus to their craft.
The film follows a man named Sonny, played by Joe Manganiello. He had his whole life in front of him, set to be a future Yankees player at the age of 18, as well as having the girlfriend of his dreams, played by Sofia Vergara. He got in a bar fight and accidentally killed a guy which sent him to jail for 17 years. Once out, he comes home to the Bronx. He is set to make his life better and starts coaching for the minors. I play Tommy, the brother of the victim, who is hell bent on getting in the way of any success happening for Sonny.
On top of all that, you’ve also landed the role of Officer Nico in Lifetime’s new thriller, You, alongside Penn Badgley and Shay Mitchell which is based on Caroline Kepnes’ 2015 novel. Have you read or will you be reading the book ahead of filming?
The casting process for YOU was very quick. I got the job and to be on set shortly thereafter. I did not have time to read the novel. I play a detective in the show, Officer Nico. I enjoyed not reading the book first and being able to discover the clues of the crime as the script went along.
— Michael Maize (@MichaelMaize) November 2, 2017
You’ve got an amazing filmography – what has been your favourite role to date?
To be honest, I feel that HAPPY was my favorite role thus far. The show is dynamite. It pushes the boundaries in many directions. It is violent, comical, dark yet whimsical. I loved how dynamic and crazed my character is. I loved sitting in his shoes, I mean cowboy boots!
Some say that you’re most recognised for starring in National Treasure: Book of Secrets but what would you say you get most recognised for?
I would say that National Treasure was the most viewed of all the roles I have done. But, I would say I am most recognized for Mr. Robot as well as Blue Bloods, which is an extremely popular show.
Having done a lot of both TV and film work, do you have a preference?
I feel the line between the two has grown thinner and thinner. Such much of the television that is out there falls within the quality and believability that films do. The directors, producers and creators have crossed over from film to television in the past 10 years, and this has raised the bar. To me, it is more important that the script and story are super solid, as opposed to which medium it is. That being said, I would still choose film over TV, as I love the process of intensely developing a character over weeks and months. And, then being done with it and move on to the next great thing.
You spend a lot of time playing villains but you couldn’t be any more different in real life. How do you psych yourself up to play dark characters?
I love the psychological challenge of playing a villain. I have a keen sense of other people’s energy and personalities. This combined with my analytical mind, allows me truly dive into the skin of characters, which strongly differ from myself. Even within the persona of a villain, I am able to find the real side of them that makes them choose to do the things they do. People rarely want to just do something bad to be bad. They have a reason for their actions. I feel this empathetic approach makes these evil characters believable and thus allows me to get cast to play them.
After dissecting the work and the character, I think music is my best avenue into these characters. I find a composer or musician that matches the tone of the villain, and let that be the catalyst into the exploration.
If you could play any super-villain in a comic book film, who would it be and why?
I have always loved the Riddler from the Batman comic. The cognitive play that he has with his victims is dynamite. He gets into the heads of them and controls from there. As I said, I think very analytically, so I think I could definitely get under the Riddler’s skin.
In your spare time, you do a lot of philanthropic work for animal and LGBTQ charities. Can you tell us about some of these charities and why they’re so important to you?
I feel it is very important to give back to society in every way we can. I am a big supporter of LGBTQ rights. In today’s current political atmosphere; hatred and homophobia have been given a new voice. After accomplishing major goals in the recent past, the LGBTQ community has been struck down again in many ways. The flames have been billowed and the bigotry is very strong. I believe that love will conquer all, but we must fight for the love to survive by proclaiming our truths. The Trevor Project is a fantastic organization focused on suicide prevention of LGBTQ youth. And, Broadway Cares is the NY theater community’s response to the AIDS crisis, raising millions of dollars yearly.
I have a deep fondness and respect for animals and animal rights. I volunteer regularly for Boxer Rescue Los Angeles (www.boxer-rescue-la.com) and BARC Shelter in Brooklyn (http://www.barcshelter.org). I also recently became a supporter of Austin Pets Alive. A large amount of animals and pets are victims of natural disasters. The majority of the aid goes towards the human population and rebuilding the locations themselves, so I think it is important to remember the animals that are left behind and now need help and/or homes.
You’re also passionate about fashion and we hear that you admire the likes of Alexander McQueen, Umit Benan, Yohji Yamamoto, and Issey Miyake. What is it about those designers that you love so much?
They all have very clean, architectural lines. I am a big fan of keeping things clean and simple in terms of fashion, while still accenting the lines of the human torso. The structure also works well with my tall frame. Alexander McQueen goes a step further into the avant garde while still staying simple in terms of the clean lines. His work is impeccable.
Apart from your already hectic schedule, what are your plans for 2018?
Right now, I plan to return to Los Angeles for the holidays from New York and stay there for pilot season of next year. My new show on Lifetime, YOU, as well as the film STANO both come out next year which is exciting!