As dozens of world leaders gathered in the halls of the United Nations, a gang of 40 criminal masterminds convened in the shadow cast by the headquarters of a media giant. While that sentence could easily set the scene of a Batman comic, it actually describes the latest press push orchestrated by Fox in the hours leading up to the premiere of “Gotham” — the latest in a seemingly never-ending stream of primetime dramas based on DC Comics and Vertigo properties.
The stunt itself actually had nothing to do with the climate change summit taking place at the UN, a high profile event happening just a 20 minute walk to the east of Fox News’ headquarters. Rather, pedestrians walking up New York City’s Avenue of the Americas, where the cable news giant happens to make its home, were stopped in their tracks by the sight of 40 actors wearing three-piece suits and carrying umbrellas, a waddle of penguins drawing attention from tourists and hardened New Yorkers alike.
And though unrelated, the commotion over at the United Nations actually ruffled the Penguin’s feathers; heavy traffic turned “Gotham” actor Robin Lord Taylor’s quick ride across town into an epic journey. With the real Penguin delayed, dozens of lookalikes killed time by checking their phones, handing out “Gotham” gear (Cobblepot-esque glasses and a lanyard with lenticular cast photo), and putting on a show for the Cinnamon Snail food truck parked right in front of the Fox News building. Any passersby with “watch a dozen Penguin cosplayers order coffee from a food truck” on their bucket list hit the jackpot this morning.
When Taylor arrived, he seemed completely unperturbed by the New York City traffic he’d been stuck in — quite a feat — and greeted the 40 Penguin-alikes with a big smile and enthusiastic handshakes. “It’s so, so surreal, man,” the actor told CBR News. “I kinda, like, go to work and live in somewhat of a bubble in that way. When you see it actually in front of you, and you see all this amazing stuff, it just all comes crashing down. ‘Oh my God — this is really happening!'”
The appearance of dozens of Penguins actually marked the first time Taylor had seen people wearing his specific Oswald duds in person, and the actor knows that they won’t be the last. “People on Twitter are detailing their Halloween costumes to me, which is pretty exciting.” However, those Penguin suits won’t have the impressive pedigree of the tailor-made threads Taylor sports on “Gotham.” “I am the luckiest dude ever,” Taylor said. “Our costume designer is Lisa Padovani, who did the last couple seasons of ‘Boardwalk Empire.’ All of my suits were made by a tailor named Martin Greenfield who makes all of the suits for the last three presidents… I’ve never had a suit made for my body, and it’s just a whole different story.”
Though their suits were likely not tailored to such exacting specifications, all of the gathered Penguins
In addition to the makeup and presidential suits, Taylor also has past interpretations of the Penguin to draw from. “I would say, my favorite thing about Burgess Meredith and Danny DeVito’s performances is that they really bring this fun aspect to this character. I would say from my experiences working with [best friend and ‘Billy on the Street’ host] Billy Eichner and all of that, and just seeing their performances, that’s something that helps me bring the fun to the show even though it’s so dark in many ways.”
When CBR suggested that Eichner might possibly put his uniquely frenetic comedy style under a layer of clown makeup to become the Joker, Taylor loved the idea. “This needs to happen! Oh my God, that would be amazing! Who would be better? He’s the funniest guy in the world.” Taylor urged fans to voice their support of the idea (we suggest the hashtag #JokerOnTheStreet, “Gotham” fans).
Of course, even if Eichner and Taylor don’t reunite on Gotham’s mean streets, there’s always the chance that the Penguin could appear on the comedian’s IFC game show. “We’ve talked about [doing Penguin on ‘Billy On The Street’],” Taylor said. “He’s currently in Los Angeles shooting ‘Parks and Recreation.’ But when he gets back, you know — we’re talking!”
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