The Penguin’s rise to power is just the tip of the iceberg of what lies ahead for “Gotham” denizen Oswald Cobblepot.
Actor Robin Lord Taylor — who has become one of the series’ breakout stars with his entertaining turn as iconic Bat-villain-in-the-making as Cobblepot manipulates his way up the ladder from mob underling to, he believes, the city’s supreme crime boss — trekked from the show’s New York sets to WonderCon in Anaheim. While there, he sat down for a lively roundtable chat with the press in which he dropped some cryptic clues to what’s in store for Oswald as he climbs to the highest rungs of the underworld.
I don’t know how much you’ve gotten to look around WonderCon at all, but have you seen any Penguin cosplay yet?
Robin Lord Taylor: I have not seen any Penguins yet, although someone just came up to me and said, “Your doppelganger is running around out there, and it’s a small kid fully in the whole garb and everything.” I told my friend, “You have to find him and [switches to scary voice] bring him to me! Bring me the child!”
Can you talk about physically changing into The Penguin?
It’s amazing. I’ve never played a character before where the physical transformation has been so intense. I’ve generally played characters that, you know, looked more like me, more or less. This is such a departure from how I look normally — I hope! [Laughs] But anyway, the most brilliant thing is that it really helps me, as an actor, get into the skin of the character, because it’s like the actual, physical transformation — going through makeup for 45 minutes to an hour every day, going through hair for another like 30 minutes to an hour and then, on top of that, the costumes that have been made for me.
It’s putting the pieces on, and then putting on the shoes. You know, I have the bottle cap in the shoe to keep the limp in my body and in my mind. It really — it’s an amazing tool to have as an actor, because it really does help me get into his skin. And then when we’re done and we wrap, the makeup comes off, I wash my hair, I take the stuff off and it’s just like literally putting him away and bringing him back. It’s actually become kind of therapeutic in a way. It’s a really interesting transition. It’s one of my favorite things about playing the character, actually.
Can you talk about the journey he’s going on in this final arc, especially in relation to Fish Mooney?
Well, as we’ve seen through the whole season, he’s gradually, bit-by-bit, been asserting himself as his own man, and his end goal is to not have to answer to anybody — to be his own boss. We’ve seen that in the pilot, when he goes behind Fish’s back and they have their thing, and then we see it when he aligns himself with Maroni, goes behind his back and is working with Falcone the whole time. What we’re going to see in the final four is the final push. He sets some things in motion that affect everyone in the show. Everyone in the show will be affected by what he does in the last four episodes, and it really is his final assertion to being his own boss, to being his own man.
And, it’s crazy. I don’t know what else to say — I can’t get too specific. Fish is a huge part of that. But it’s interesting, and it also really brings to the forefront — hopefully this is what people will see — the complexity of their relationship. Like, I know that they are arch-enemies, but at the same time, he has affection for her, because he wouldn’t be where he is if it wasn’t for her. He learned everything about Gotham City, about the underbelly of Gotham City — he learned it from her, and all of the rules and all of that. So he does have reverence for her and really does care about her. You’ll see, there’s conflict there that is also going to be illuminated in the last four episodes.
Are there other characters that you haven’t gotten a whole lot of time to play around with in the episodes so far that you do spend more time with? Or are there new characters that come in to challenge you?
Not specifically. Yeah, I mean –[Laughs] — they give us a list of things not to say, specifically! But one thing I will say is, there is one character in particular that he is introduced to — they’re introductions, there’s no real intense relationships, because he has so many loose ends that he has to tie up with other characters that we’ve already established. But yeah, that’s all I can say.
So what’s Edward Nygma like, then?
[Whispers] Asshole. [Laughs] No, I’m just kidding. He’s amazing. That’s the thing, is that I just want more scenes with Ed Nygma, because I just think the dynamic between Oswald and Edward is one of my favorite ones that I’ve played so far on the show. They’re both so strange, and they’re both coming at it from such different directions. I think that there’s electricity there that — and you know, that’s another thing that you’ll see, is Edward. He’s changing. And that’s all I’ll say.
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