Gotham villain Robin Lord Taylor

The Penguin 

WORDS: Holger Potye
PHOTO: Getty Images

Gotham star Robin Lord Taylor on playing one of the most iconic villains in the world 

The Red Bulletin met up with Gotham star Robin Lord Taylor at the TV festival in Monte Carlo to talk about life as the Penguin and what fans can expect from season 3 of the show.

THE RED BULLETIN: Batman is over 75 years old and more popular than ever before, and across many different media channels. Why do you think that is? 

ROBIN LORD TAYLOR: I think it is because he is mortal among the superheroes. He is a human being. He does not have supernatural powers. He is a superhero, and yet he is not supernatural. I think that resonates with people. It is relatable as well. And on top of that the world of Batman is dark and bleak. That is parallel to the world that we are living in today.

Great sci-fi and fantasy does mirror society and the things that are going on. How do you guys feel the show reflects the current world?

I would say, from my perspective I have a tendency to feel somewhat powerless. I feel like I am consistently at the whim of corporation and politics and government. And they are not speaking for me. They are controlling all of us in a way. They feel like they are huge monoliths. You just feel very helpless. And so the parallel between our show and superhero shows in general is finding a way to empower people and to overcome the great evils in the world.

One of the original penguins from Batman Returns!!! #Gotham #family

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How does it feel to be associated to such a famous villain?

It is an honour. To play a character that has been around for 70 years is daunting, terrifying at times, but ultimately incredibly satisfying and fulfilling because we are showing aspects of these characters that we have never seen before.

One of the many great things about the show is that each character has its own journey, his own narrative arc. How do you feel about the evolution of your own character? 

It has been incredibly satisfying to see how my character has evolved. Starting at the beginning of the first season being so low in power, so insignificant, and then by the end of the first season declaring himself the King of Gotham, and then going forward and then having it taken away, it is just an amazing rollercoaster evolution.

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What has been your favourite moment so far?

My favourite moment was near the end of the second half of the second season, when Oswald was brainwashed by Hugo Strange in A Clockwork Orange kind of way. He had all of his negative impulses washed away and what you saw was that a gentle, loving person, like the person that he would have been if the world had been a little easier on him. The fact that I was able to play a character that was so beautiful and gentle and kind, and then of course because it is Gotham City, you know even when he is that gentle kind person, people still take advantage of him and still try to murder him and torture him. That snaps him back to his old self. That kind of evolution is just an actor’s dream and I couldn’t be more happy and creatively fulfilled.

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Season 2 is very organic from the beginning to the end. Is the evolution of the show obvious to you?

In the first season I even said at one point, my character was getting beaten up left and right and got stabbed in the head. And I would come back and we would start the next episode and I would be like: You know, shouldn’t I have some scars and bruising? And at first they were like: “No, no! Every episode should stand alone in a way.” And it didn’t feel organic. And that last 4 episodes ramp up to the finale, that energy just carried us right through to the second season and then it just kept going. 

Jada Pinkett-Smith returns at the end of season 2, which could pose your character a problem in the future. What are you expecting for season 3?

Yes, Jada is coming back. I am not entirely sure in what capacity and for how long, but obviously it is a very important moment for my character, a very terrifying moment. Oswald is a person that wants to control and he wants to be the one in control. When he sees her come back, he realises, it is one of his worst fears. It is like he has no control over anything. He can’t even kill someone. She is coming back. It is really terrifying for him and she also now has some superhuman abilities as well, which again is going to be even more challenging for Oswald.

Watch the official trailer for Gotham - Season 3

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Are you looking forward to the new season?

Personally, I am extremely excited. Especially with the return of Jada because I think that relationship is very defining for both of us. Everything that Oswald knows about how the underbelly of Gotham works, he learned from her. So it is a really compelling relationship going forward. So in season 3 in a way I personally want Oswald to become the most powerful person he can be. After the tragedies that he experienced in season 2, he now has lost all of the love in his life, which is a lesson that he learned from Nigma, to not have love means you are invincible in a way. No one can touch you. No one can hurt you. So going forward I think he should be as ruthless and as vicious as anyone can possibly imagine.

All of you play iconic characters from popular fiction. As an actor do you have to get rid of the baggage from all previous incarnations?

David and Bruno did that very intentionally. Because had we known there would be no way to cast the show. They want a very unique take on these characters – and again it is an origin story – we are telling a story that people have already heard about with these characters. That pressure of having to live up to our brilliant predecessors does not exist. I am very grateful for that.

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09 2016 The Red Bulletin

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