Cape Town – Channel24 got the chance to talk to Robin Lord Taylor, who plays Oswald Cobblepot AKA The Penguin on Fox’s hit show Gotham.
The actor, who has starred in Another Earth (2011) and Would You Rather (2012), was in London at the time doing a press junket for the show set in the fictional city of Gotham.
Robin Lord Taylor’s character, Oswald Cobblepot, is a villain on the show who often collides with detective Jim Gordon played by the OC’s Ben McKenzie on the one side and Fish Mooney played by Jada Pinkett-Smith on the other.
Mooney is an underworld crime boss.
We asked Robin all about what it was like to work with Pinkett-Smith and how he deals with his character’s constant up and down life trajectory.
What was your process like creating the complex character of Oswald Cobblepot? Did you draw any inspiration from previous portrayals of The Penguin?
I give all credit to Bruno Heller, Danny K and all the writers on the show. I am so blessed to embody Oswald. I grew up watching the Adam West (who played the villain in a 60’s television version of the comic) and Batman Returns (1992) with Danny Devito's version of the penguin so following those two incomparable actors is daunting. But I put my own spin on the character because Gotham is an origin story and there’s a lot of freedom when you have 77 years of material. I actually saw Tim Burton’s Batman Returns on opening day.
Watch Robin in character here:
You've clearly been a highlight on Gotham since episode one. Another highlight is Fish Mooney, Jada Pinkett-Smith, who your character clashes with frequently. What was it like working with her?
I love that relationship. Because Fish is a brilliant adversary; Oswald learnt everything he knows about the underworld from Fish, so to take over from her, he had to destroy her. In a lot of ways she defined him. In terms of working with Jada she is incredibly kind and professional as well as generous.
Your character makes a habit of gaining and losing the upper hand, then gaining it back again. Is that back and forth difficult to play or more exciting?
I love the roller-coaster that he goes on. It’s what you want as an actor, that kind of a role, that’s more than just one note. He falls and picks himself back up again that’s how he’s learning, in a way, and it’s incredibly compelling. It’s amazing to play.
Can you give our readers a little more insight what life is like on set, behind-the-scenes?
I know that it’s such a cliché but all of us in the cast are friends. We all truly care about each other. We’ve really got something special. What I also think makes our show different in that we shoot on a soundstage in Brooklyn, New York. And not just there but all around the city, we shoot in all 5 boroughs. We have the most beautiful sets.
Give us an example of an average day for you?
I have the most make-up time so I come in two hours before the rest of the cast. It takes about an hour to do my nose, hair, clothes and overall look. But I enjoy all of it because it helps me get into character. The last thing I do is put on my shoes (Cobblepot has very particular shoes in the show) and I’m Oswald, I am The Penguin.
Catch Gotham Thursdays at 19:00 on M-Net Edge (DStv 103).
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