Gotham Season 2 is now out on Blu-ray / DVD in the U.K. and will be available on August 16th in the states. To go with the series release, I got the chance to talk with some of the cast including Cory Michael Smith and Robin Lord Taylor. Here is the interview with Taylor about playing Oswald Cobblepot / The Penguin.
DAN WICKLINE: The Penguin is a well-established character. What was your process like to find your take on him? How much of it was research and how much was going with a fresh start?
ROBIN LORD TAYLOR: So much of it was in the script. The characterization that Bruno Heller had created was just crystal clear. I knew exactly where he was coming from and where he wanted to go. So I stated with his words. Once I got the job, we are very fortunate to have Geoff Johns very involved in the show. I reached out to him at an event we were at together. I asked him if he could suggest any specific Penguin storylines that I could go pick up. He asked for my address then hand-selected some stories and sent them to me. That’s where I really found the humanity of the character. And I found aspects of the character that I had never known nor seen before.
DW: There has been a lot of growth in the character in the two season going from Fish Mooney’s lackey to the King of Gotham. How much of that growth did you know of going in and how much was you finding out as the scripts came in?
RLT: I general don’t like to know too much, because I feel it keeps it more organic. As Oswald progresses, I progress as well. So it feels very natural. I didn’t know how much he was going to progress or where he was going to go this season until it was really happening. And that just feels like a more organic process to me. I will say it was a welcome surprise to learn of all the things I would be going through in season two.
DW: With the introduction of Hugo Strange and his playing with Oswald’s mind, how did you approach the abrupt changing of your character?
RLT: Bruno and I had a conversation about this and he referred to it as ‘Chaplin-esque’, which I thought was very appropriate. The direction we decided to go was that this was, deep down, who Oswald is under all of that scar tissue. If Oswald hadn’t been bullied his entire life, if he had been excepted by his peers, if he hadn’t been abused and tortured… this is really, truly who he would be. It’s how I see Oswald underneath it all and it was an amazing gift to be able to play him like that for those episodes.
DW: One of the things that got fans excited in season two was the relationship between Oswald and Edward Nygma. How do you see that relationship and how do you see it progressing going forward?
RLT: In the first season, Oswald viewed Jim Gordon as a true friend and ally. As we go through the second season that completely dissolves. Their relationship is tenuous at best after all of the business with Galavan and Oswald taking the fall for Jim and Jim basically committing him to Arkham Asylum. That relationship is over.
The person who then picked him back up was Edward. I think going forward we’ll see an amazing partnership, friendship and comradery between the two of them. Which is something Cory and I are incredibly excited to play. Something I find so fascinating about the show is that we grew up knowing these characters, but now we see them younger and going in and out of each other’s lives. The relationship between Oswald and Edward is one of my absolute favorite of the show.
DW: Gordon spurns Oswalds advancements of friendship and also Nygma’s… so the problems in Gotham really come down to the fact that Jim Gordon isn’t really a good friend, doesn’t it?
RLT: Jim’s just got to get it together man. [Laugh] Gotham is constantly trying to teach Jim that there is no virtue in the city. That Gotham is a place that corrupts. In order to get anything done, to get anything you want, you are compelled to get your hands dirty. Jim is extremely resistant to that, which is why he’s the hero of the show. But I could see major resentment form both Edward and Penguin with regards to Jim Gordon.
DW: One of my favorite scenes of the whole season was the ending with Galavan, Penguin, Butch and the rocket launcher.
RLT: Yes! Always bring the right tool for the job!
DW: Do you think that was a statement moment for Oswald?
RLT: Absolutely. We still have to see how he’s going to react to Fish being back. But she is the second person he’s disposed of who has come back from the dead. So Oswald has learned that in order to take care of someone in the right way, you have to blow them up into a million little pieces.
DW: Good life lesson there.
RLT: Exactly. Tell your kids.
DW: Gotham… teaching people.
RLT: Bringing families together, Monday night at 8 PM on Fox.
DW: With the third season coming up, where would you like to see Penguin go? What would you like to see him do?
RLT: I’d like to see him be all the more ruthless. How could he get more ruthless than he already is? Well, the fact that all of the love in his life has been violently ripped away from him. As we started season two he proclaimed himself King of Gotham, but that didn’t last very long. He was immediately thrown off of his pedestal. He learned an incredibly valuable lesson from that. What I’d like to see him do in the third season is become even more ruthless, even more unhinged, even more violent. I think that is the only way he will survive. He already has a huge target on his back, so for him to keep on keeping on he needs to be all the more ruthless and unhinged.
DW: Penguin and Riddler are now living with this constitution that Edward taught him that if you have no one you live that you’re a freeman and therefor very powerful. Do you think that is a lesson Oswald will take to heart in the new season?
RLT: Oh, absolutely. To love is to be vulnerable. It is to be weak in Gotham City. I think having the two people he loves the most taken from him gives him the license to be the monster that everyone has always treated him as. I think that’s a continuing theme for our show. It’s about how the loss of love corrupts and creates chaos, violence, and villainy. You see that in every character. The prime example of that is Bruce Wayne, you see that in Barbara Kean, you see that now in Jim Gordon even having lost Lee Thompkins and his child. Going forward I see this as a huge theme in Oswald’s life and in Edward Nygma’s life.