“Gotham’s” resident scene stealer Robin Lord Taylor certainly knew how to charm Fan Expo Canada. The actor, best known as the hit Fox series’ Oswald Cobblepot, ignited a Q&A frenzy at his spotlight panel, covering “Gotham’s” second season, his time on “The Walking Dead” and his future non-DC Entertainment projects. A humble Lord Taylor graciously thanked everyone who posed a question, and at one point delighted the crowd by demonstrating how to perform the Penguin’s iconic waddle.
As soon as Lord Taylor stepped on stage and took a seat, the moderator, who was dressed as Velma from “Scooby Doo,” immediately turned to the floor for questions. The awkward police station encounter between Oswald and Edward Nygma, which ranks as one of Lord Taylor’s top Season 1 moments, was mentioned ahead of a question asking if the two will be teaming up again anytime soon.
“I can’t get into any specifics, unfortunately,” Lord Taylor said with a smile. “I can say that you will see they definitely come back into each other’s lives in a really major way. It’s going to be really great. We’re about to start that part of the story in the next couple of weeks. I’m so thrilled. They are in the same city, so…”
A young female fan commented how she and her father watch Gotham together, a fact that seemed to genuinely please the actor, before asking how intimidating he found it to portray such an iconic villain.
“I am still intimidated by it,” Taylor answered. “I’ve said it to a couple of people today, and I’ve said it a million times. As an actor, you just want to work and not do anything else. Once you get that, you want to be given amazing things to say and amazing characters to portray. I give all credit to Bruno Heller, who is our showrunner and our co-creator. He’s just created such a vision of these characters and really tried to find the inner life of them as opposed to any two-dimensional portrayals. It’s just not that interesting to him and it’s not interesting to us.
“When I got the call — you guys don’t have this problem, but down South, your life insurance comes in and out of your life,” he continued. “It was on its way out. When I got this job, I was like, ‘It’s not only like a job, which is all I really wanted, but it’s the Penguin!’ It’s the third time he’s been portrayed on screen. I’m even sweating right now.”
The Bat-villain may have only been portrayed in live action three times total, but the Penguin has been a featured bad guy in the in the comics and animation for decades. As such, there was a plethora of potential source material from which to draw inspiration, but Lord Taylor pointed to Gregg Hurwitz and Szymon Kudranski’s miniseries as his main source.
“The one that comes to mind that was really important to me was ‘Penguin: Pain and Prejudice,'” he says. “We are so lucky because [DC’s Chief Creative Officer] Geoff Johns is so involved in every DC show that’s on TV: ‘Flash,’ ‘Supergirl,’ ‘Arrow’ and ‘Constantine.’ He has availed himself to us and will hand select comics for us to study that pertain to our characters.”
Prior to making “Gotham” his television home, Lord Taylor guest-starred on two episodes of “The Walking Dead.” Asked, if the writers had gone down a different path with his character, would he prefer to still be on that show or “Gotham,” the actor seemed to have to think about his answer.
“Oh, man, that’s a really tough choice,” Lord Taylor said. “I don’t know. I love my ‘Walking Dead’ experience so much. Again, it’s a very similar thing. The people on that show also really enjoy each other and it feels like a family. When you go in as a guest-star, a lot of times I liken it to the friend who is invited to the family reunion. When you’re a guest-star on a show, it’s like you are stepping into this party that they’ve all been having for the last five years. You are going, ‘Hi,’ and you don’t always receive the warmest reception. But, on ‘The Walking Dead,’ someone new comes in and everyone who is there is so embracing. I’m standing there talking to Andrew Lincoln. I would have to say I’m really happy the way this turned out. I wish I could do both.”
Oswald Cobblepot is a man who can count his allies on one to three fingers — after all, his “closest friend” is Det. Jim Gordon. But does Oswald truly respect Gordon, or is the future police commissioner simply a pawn in Oswald’s grand plan?
“It’s always both with Oswald,” Lord Taylor, said. “From where he’s come from in his life and what he’s been through, it’s really hard to trust anyone, except his mother. Ultimately, Oswald is #1 and he comes first. In that way, everyone is somewhat of a pawn to him. But, I really do feel he found something in Gordon that he wanted to be close with. He doesn’t have any friends. In an episode, he says, ‘I met a friend today.’ He really does think of Gordon, in that moment, as a friend, as someone that he can trust. The way they are both similar in that they are both incredibly stubborn characters. They have this resolution within themselves that is unparallelled with anyone else. That’s what he sees about Gordon that he respects.
“But, now, after the finale, when Gordon is just going to leave him to die, Oswald doesn’t forget that,” he added. “So, going into the second season, you are going to see a lot more tension between the two of them. Their relationship is like a rubber band. It pulls out and snaps back.”
Praising Lord Taylor’s performance, a fan noted how different he is from Oswald and asked about his process for getting into character.
“I’m really lucky because there’s a physical transformation that happens every time I go in for work,” Lord Taylor said. “I sit down in the chair, and I get the nose put on. There’s the skin stuff, and they paint my teeth. That takes about an hour. After that, I sit in the hair room and they do their thing. They dye my hair. Then, after that, I go and I put on these insanely amazing costumes that have been made for me, for my body, which is the craziest feeling ever. It’s like, ‘Oh, my God. Clothes can fit.’ All those pieces come together. Then, on top of it, the voice of Oswald was so clear in the scripts. It really feels like I’m stepping into his skin. Some people find that whole process stifling. I find it to be incredible. I use it as a tool to get into his body, to get into his mindset.”
“There are lots of things I like about Oswald, but really I’d have to say his resilience,” Lord Taylor said of what he most enjoys about the character. “Many times he almost bit it in the first season. His resilience is his ability to see not just one step ahead, but five steps ahead, and also keep all these players in Gotham City in his mind so that he can anticipate their next moves. I can’t play chess at all. He can. That’s one of my favorite things about him.”
In 2012’s “Would You Rather,” a horror flick centering on a dinner party where the guests partake in a sadistic game of “would you rather” for financial gain, Lord Taylor’s character, Julian, disappeared during the gruesome events. The answer was never given in the film, and the actor was asked if he knew where Julian went.
“Well, I will say a sequel is waiting,” Lord Taylor replied. “It’s an independent film, and thankfully IFC has been incredibly supportive of this film. It’s bizarre that something with such a small budget has gone as far as it’s gone and it still goes. It’s like rolling a giant rock on the hill, and then pushing it over the side and it just gets faster and faster. It’s an amazing thing to witness. But, like with any independent film, it’s getting the financing together. Maybe if you guys are really into it, we’re going to put out a Kickstarter to try and get it off the ground. And, also, to get more investors involved. That’s not me hitting you guys up for money, by the way. I’m just putting the information out there. Do with it what you will.”
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