Whatever opinion you might have about Fox’s Gotham, you have to admit that Robin Lord Taylor’s performance as Oswald Cobblepot/Penguin has been a highlight. Since the first episode of the series, Taylor has made the character his own and the audience has seen him rise from “umbrella boy” to mob boss and now, possibly to Mayor of Gotham City. That’s right, Penguin is campaigning to “Make Gotham Safe Again” in season three, Mad City.
With Gotham: Mad City underway already, it’s time to take a look at the character and the actor behind the penguin.
1. On The Day His Father Died, Taylor Filmed the Scene Where Penguin’s Father Died
In season two, Penguin’s character changed dramatically. He reconnected with his father, played by Paul Reubens, only to see his father murdered. The day they filmed that scene, Taylor learned that his father died and he couldn’t join his mother and sister in Iowa for the funeral.
“So that scene where Paul died, my actual dad died and we kept shooting that day anyways,” Taylor told ComicBook.com at New York Comic Con 2016. “So I was acting my actual reality. So production asked what I wanted to do and it was Paul’s last day. My mom was with my sister and I couldn;t make it to Iowa, and it was a strange confluence of events where your reality is what your character is going through. There were some scenes that was actually happening in my real life.”
Taylor explained that the episode featuring Penguin’s death will always be his favorite episode of the series.
The 38-year-old Taylor was born in Shueyville, Iowa and his interest in acting dates back to his days in high school. He’s been acting professionally since 2000 and made his film debut in 2006, appearing in both Accepted and The House is Burning that year.
2. Taylor Has Been Married for 5 Years & but Hasn’t Revealed His Husband’s Name
Taylor is very quiet about his life off camera. He revealed that he is married in a 2014 Glamour interview and they do not have children.
On June 18, 2016, Taylor posted a tweet announcing that he and his husband celebrated their fifth wedding anniversary. “Five years ago today, I married the greatest man I’ve ever met. We are proud and unafraid. #LoveIsLove,” he wrote.
Sadly, just moments after posting it, Taylor revealed that the social media post made him the target of bullying.
3. Taylor’s Performance is Inspired by ‘Richard III’ & ‘A Clockwork Orange’
In a 2015 interview with The New York Times, Taylor said that the inspiration for his performance in the role comes from William Shakespeare’s Richard III, A Clockwork Orange and even music by The Clash.
“He was another grotesque man who has this insane ambition,” Taylor said of Richard III. “This sheer lust for power fueled by his physical deformities.”
Taylor’s Penguin might be taller than Danny DeVito’s in Batman Returns, but he still has a limp and a chip on his shoulder. He tries to bring a level of believability to the role.
“A lot of the feedback I get is ‘Oswald does terrible things, but for some reason I still root for him,'” Taylor told The Times. “It’s not that I want him to win; I just want him to make sense to people. He’s a product of his environment like the rest of us are.”
4. Taylor Is Close Friends With Comedian Billy Eichner & Co-Starred in His Early Videos
Eichner and Taylor are both Northwestern University graduates and they moved to New York together about 16 years ago. Taylor can be seen in Eichner’s early sketches, including the one above. Taylor also helped Eichner out as a cameraman for the early Billy on the Street videos.
Here’s another early Billy on the Street video with Taylor:
5. Penguin Will Continue to Try to Climb Gotham’s Hierarchy in Season 3 & Is Already Running for Mayor
Taylor’s Penguin might be different from Danny DeVito’s, but he is doing something that the Batman Returns Penguin also did. He’s running for mayor of Gotham City.
“Oswald will try to be the most powerful man he can be,” Taylor said in an interview, CinemaBlend reports. “He learned so much in Season 2. Now he has the means and knowledge, he knows what it is to be the king of Gotham and how difficult it is. On the death of his mother, Nygma told him, ‘You’re free to do whatever you want now To love someone is to be weak, vulnerable.’ Now he can be as ruthless as he wants. I think he will take that advice.”
In the first three episodes of season three, we have already seen Oswald reach for as much power as he can. He now has a mob of citizens following him wherever he goes to help him denounce the Gotham Police Department. He now has the mayor under his thumb, even as he hopes to replace him in City Hall. The character has also changed in surprising ways, as he decided not to kill Fish Mooney (Jada Pinkett Smith) when he had the chance.
Gotham airs on Fox on Mondays at 8 p.m. ET.