We chatted with Gotham star Robin Lord Taylor to find out whether or not his character will behave this season and how he “cast” his TV parents.
Robin Lord Taylor.
Playing the iconic DC Comics character, The Penguin, on FOX’s Gotham takes a special temperament and Robin Lord Taylor has cleverly taken on this role to the point that he’s even recognized—and feared—in public when fans see him riding the New York subways. Now with the show in its second season, his character endures a major personality adjustment which will be put to the test to see if he resists going back to the dark side.
We chatted with Taylor about The Penguin’s hairstyle, how he basically cast his TV parents, and more, below.
Your character, The Penguin, has turned a new leaf after his stint in the asylum. He’s a nice guy now but is that going to change? ROBIN LORD TAYLOR: I don’t think he’ll ever be able to fully go back to the way he used to be because of this whole brainwashing thing, learning to be a nice guy kind of thing. I think it would be kind of a disservice to the character if say, he snapped out of it and just went right back to his old ways. I’m really interested in incorporating this nice Oswald with the old Oswald to make who he is now.
Let’s talk about the physical transformation that you go through with that hair of yours. That’s not your real hair color, is it? RLT: No, it’s not my real hair color, unfortunately. I have to get it dyed every two weeks, which is pretty intense. I’m naturally blonde. When my roots come in, it looks like my hair is levitating off my head. And, when I’m on the subway, I feel like because of the hair color, a lot of people are like, ‘Oh shit, the Penguin’s on the subway.’ But hey, it’s a champagne problem.
You also have the ultimate TV parents—Carol Kane and Paul Reubens. How excited were you to work with them? RLT: It’s actually really interesting the way it came down. I found out when I got the script for episode two of the first season that I had a mom. I immediately texted my agent and said, ‘I have a mom on the show. They have to get Carol Kane.’ Two days later, [Gotham executive producer] Danny Cannon texted me and said, ‘Carol Kane is playing your mom.’ And I was like, ‘Okay, that’s crazy. I just cast that. That was all me.’
Then a year later, Carol invites me out to brunch with her friend Paul and it was Paul Reubens. We took a photo together and I sent it to Danny and was like, ‘Ha, just a thought for a future family member.’ He wrote back immediately and wrote, ‘OMFG, I’ve been trying to get Paul for two weeks to play your dad.’ And then it worked and he was my dad.
What’s next for you? RLT: In last year’s hiatus, I shot a supporting role in a film directed and adapted by James Franco, which was an amazing experience. It was a really, really amazing experience—it was a period film. It was so different from Gotham so it was exactly what I needed. It’s called The Long Home and it comes out I hope within a year. Other than that, I’m keeping my options open. I’m going to try and enjoy the hiatus as much as I can.