David Zayas Talks 'Shut Eye' and Acting Career

David Zayas Shut Eye interview

David Zayas has been a steady working actor since breaking out on the highly-acclaimed HBO series OZ, and next the Bronx native stars in Hulu’s original series, “Shut Eye.” The former NYPD beat cop and Air Force veteran always wanted to act as a boy growing up in the Bronx, but reality took him on a detour that eventually led him back to his first passion - acting.  

Most recognize David Zayas from Showtime’s “Dexter” as Detective Angel Batista from 2006 to 2013. Now he’s a regular on “Bloodlines,” and has appeared on tons of television shows such as “Gotham,” The Blacklist,” “Grimm” and countless movie projects (SKYLINE, THE EXPENDABLES).

On “Shut Eye,” all-10 episodes now streaming on Hulu, Zayas plays Eduardo Magana, a seemingly ordinary guy seeking out spiritual guidance from a psychic named Charlie Haverford (Jeffrey Donovan), but Charlie is a con man running a small chain of fortune-telling storefronts for an organized Los Angeles crime family. The original series stars Jeffrey Donovan (“Burn Notice”), Zayas, Isabella Rossellini as a sadistic matriarch of the crime family, KaDee Strickland (“Private Practice”), Emmanuelle Chriqui (“Entourage”) and Mel Harris (“Thirtysomething”).  

On the surface Eduardo seems like a nice guy until Charlie’s wife Linda (KaDee Strickland) points out he’s probably a cocaine dealer who chops up bodies. Zayas tells CineMovie there’s more to him than meets the eye.

“The one thing about that character that I really loved was that first you see him and you think he’s a mark. It turns out he’s somebody totally different.”

His character of Eduardo will continue to unravel as the show progresses, says the actor, but one thing’s for sure - Eduardo will be more than Charlie “can chew.”

The 54-year-old actor also loves the fact that all the “Shut Eye” characters are neither black or white. The women especially are written really well and multidimensional.

“As we shot it, the characters became even more complicated,” said the Puerto Rican-born actor.  “It was a lot of fun to play.”

For “Shut Eye,” Zaya reunited with Jeffrey Donovan for a third time after having worked with him in 2000 for “The Beat,” a short-lived series and “Burn Notice.” He describes Donovan as a real professional on the set.

“I love working with him. He’s hard-working. He’s smart, really, really great example on set.”  


When it came to researching the world of psychics, David Zayas stayed away from having his fortune told.

“I don’t necessarily believe in it. I don’t NOT believe in it. In other words, if it’s true… I don’t want to know my future. I just want to live it.”

What was in the cards for Zayas was acting, but he didn’t get that from any fortune-teller. Zayas’ passion for acting started at an early age, but reality took him on a detour.

“I always wanted to be an actor. But you know reality and life… I grew up in the Bronx so reality and life takes over and you got to survive. All of a sudden I was married with two kids. Now I need a job. Life has a way of changing the dynamics of what your passion is, and the need to take care of your family.”

David Zayas was working as NYC beat cop when he got the role of “Enrique Morales on OZ. That was the role of a lifetime which allowed him to retire from the force to fully concentrate on acting. Since then, the actor has appeared in over 88 projects.

He’s thankful for what he’s accomplished and he considers every role a blessing no matter the size. He doesn’t feel like he’s missed out on any roles.

“I don’t have a dream role. Every role I get is my dream role.  Whatever the role… I have to commit to every time.”

What would be Zayas advice to younger generations looking to make acting their dream?  It’s a different journey for everyone, first off, so it depends on the sacrifices and compromises you are willing to make, but more importantly - he says passion plays a bigger role.

“Pursue your dreams if you know it.  If you’re lucky to discover your passion, go for it.  Some people don’t.“

When Zayas isn’t keeping busy as an actor, his two grandchildren keep him grounded. Overall, David Zayas says “life is good.”

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