DuJour Navigation

Q&A: Robin Lord Taylor

Gotham’s breakout star on the show’s unbelievable second season

When you think of Gotham City, there’s usually only one dark, brooding crusader who comes to mind. But when you think of Gotham, the Fox series ending its second season this week, the standout character isn’t necessarily a bat—in fact, he’s found in an entirely different part of the zoo. Robin Lord Taylor plays Oswald Cobblepot (AKA the Penguin) on the series, and his offbeat, funny and dark portrayal has earned him critical accolades and a legion of adoring (and, OK, slightly terrified) fans. Here, Taylor chats with DuJour about the show’s second season and what he hopes is in store for his villainous character.

Gotham’s second season is wrapping up this week. It’s been a wild one for your character.

It’s been amazing, but also a crazy emotional rollercoaster. At least on-camera. Last season, they solidified who Oswald was and this season they took it and just ran with it. Having started this season as King of Gotham, he had it all taken away from him—his mother and father died—and it’s been quite the ride.

What have the reactions to what he’s been through been like?

People have been able to see so many aspects of the character that we weren’t able to show last season, like his fall from grace. He started the season in an asylum, he was wiped clean and became this nice person—and people were already rooting for this guy, even though he’s a villain, and now I really feel like people are pulling for him even more.

What’s your favorite part of playing such a bad guy?

Ultimately, it’s been able to portray someone who’s as ambitious as he is. There’s an almost anti-hero dynamic to him; he does horrifying, terrible things but there’s also something about him people can’t help but sympathize with. Playing that kind of villain is definitely the best thing about him.

Is there anything from this season that stands out as being a favorite moment?

In terms of things I can’t believe I get to do, it would definitely be strolling onto the set with Drew Powell, who plays Butch, with a bazooka, blowing things away. As far as my favorite moment of the season, it was probably one of my episodes with Paul Reubens, who plays Oswald’s father. Just to work and share the screen with him, it was an amazing experience.

You guys are going back to film a third season in just a few weeks. How are you spending the down time?

I’ve been in Los Angeles filming a movie, and it’s been the perfect thing for me. It’s called Full Dress, and it’s a low-budget indie with one camera and a skeleton crew. It’s with me and Christopher Abbott and it’s a meta piece about filmmaking. It’s only a two-week shoot, and being able to do something that’s so different and removed from Gotham is so refreshing. I’ll get to go back creatively inspired for the third season of the show.

What do you want for Oswald in the coming season?

Really, the main thing is that I’m hoping that he gets to a place where he has more stature. I want to be able to interact with more of the other actors. Up to this point, Oswald has had his own arc, but I’m hoping he gets to a place where I’ll be able to have more scenes with Bruce Wayne or Alfred. That’s what I’m most looking forward to, sharing the screen with my amazing co-stars.

Main photo: Benjo Arwas