Tai Freligh interviews actor Michael Maize from Gotham and Happy…
Michael Maize is starring in Gotham season 4 this fall. Michael gained recognition from his recurring role in USA Network’s Mr. Robot. He has also been featured in hit television shows, including CBS’s Blue Bloods, Hawaii Five-0, NBC’s The Blacklist, HBO’s True Blood, and films such as Saving Lincoln and National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets. Michael is currently working alongside Joe Manganiello and Sofia Vergara in the film, Stano, (release date TBD 2018) and is additionally set to star in SyFy’s forthcoming series Happy on December 6th, 2017. We chatted with him about his acting style, charity work and asked some fun speed round questions.
You seem to have embraced the fact that you get cast as villains more often than not. What do you think it is about your looks and personality that puts you into the path of these roles?
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. Physically, I have a deep brow, which lends itself to more severe characters. This and my height of 6’5”!
How do you keep your villains fresh?
I look at them as humans. People that have been conditioned throughout there life to be the individuals they have come. And, I approach them from the inside out. Then I allow them to fall into the scene and respond honestly to the situation at hand.
In your opinion, why do we need villains?
In the world, throughout time there has always been good and evil. The protagonist and the antagonist. As Joseph Campbell demonstrates in his various books, there are specific archetypes that have been involved in storytelling from the beginning of time. One of these archetypes is the villain. The villain causes the conflict, which challenges the hero or heroine’s mission. If these roadblocks in the story were not there, then the audience would have no interest in the journey for it would have already been reached in the first 5 minutes of the film or television show. In other words, light cannot be present without the darkness.
You’ve been on a lot of supernatural shows like Angel, Charmed, Grimm and True Blood. Is there an attraction to these fantasy-type roles?
Growing up, I was definitely drawn to comic strip and superhero films. Tha is, movies that were very dramatic with a strong concept throughout. The original Batman trilogy (Batman, Batman Returns, Batman Forever) as well as the Superman films of the 80s/90s were definite favorites of mine. I even reenacted them with my brothers and cousins in our backyard of suburban Milwaukee. So, I think there is definitely some synchronicity with the fact that I have been cast in a lot of these types of projects.
You have also played a lot of law enforcement type roles. Luck of the draw or something more to it?
Definitely luck of the draw with those roles. My grandfather was captain of the detective squad in Milwaukee so perhaps there is something in my DNA… I am currently shooting a recurring role on Lifetime’s new show You, due out in 2018. I play a savvy, dogged detective in this show.
How is it different working on a network television show like Mr. Robot on USA Network versus a cable show like True Blood on HBO?
I feel like Mr. Robot, Happy and True Blood fall into the same category of being a cable show vs. a main network show (NBC, CBS, ABC, FOX) such as Blue Bloods, Blacklist and Gotham. The cable shows tend to a have a smaller budget so things are usually a bit more restrained in the perks department; but the material usually is more cutting edge and progressive. These scripts take more risks, in general, and that is very thrilling as an actor to participate in. The network shows usually have plots and scripts which are more middle of the road. But, you are taken care of very well as an actor. I feel you can find great material in either world, and this is what is most important.
Talk about your charity work on behalf of LGBTQ+ and why it’s 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 now 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.
You support several animal charities. Tell us about them and what kind of work they are doing with the hurricane-devastated states.
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). They are a very kind and hard-working no-kill shelter that actively finds homes for boxers in need. I also volunteer with BARC Shelter in Brooklyn (http://www.barcshelter.org). I walk the dogs there and post them to social media. Last year, I transported a dog from NY to LA on JetBlue to my friend who happily adopted him. I was very happy to give this dog a new life!
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 it is important to remember the animals that are left behind and now need help and/or homes. Austin Pets Alive housed many, many pets after the last hurricane. They provided food and shelter for the abandoned pets until their owners were back in their homes again. They also helped relocate the pets with owners who had to give up their animals after the storm.
You’re on a lot of social platforms and very active. What role does social media play in promoting you and the things you support?
I feel that news travels very fast now through social media. The various platforms have allowed me to ignite my career, by giving an avenue to promote my current projects. It also allows fans and audience to actively follow what I am engaging in at any given moment.
How do you survive the zombie apocalypse?
Move to Canada.
Television or movie work?
I love the journey of a film.
Your favourite movie villain and television villain?
I can’t choose just one. Here are my top 5: Norman Bates from Psycho, Hans Landa from Inglourious Basterds, Michelle Pfeiffer from Batman Returns, Jack Torrance in The Shining, Glenn Close in 101 Dalmatians.
If not acting, what would you be doing right now?
Baking in a remote village.
Name one actor or actress you would like to work with in the future?
Michael has recently been cast as a recurring role (Officer Nico) in Lifetime’s drama series You, where he stars alongside Penn Badgley, Elizabeth Lail and Shay Mitchell.
We thank Michael for taking the time to chat with us. He can be found on the following social media platforms:
Photo Credits: Michael Becker
Tai Freligh is a Los Angeles-based writer and can be found on Twitter.