Known for his roles in “Accepted,” “Another Earth,” and “Would You Rather,” Robin Lord Taylor is building a resume that some could only dream of. With his most recent success as Oswald Cobblepot on Fox’s “Gotham,” VULKAN decided to sit down with the man himself to see what his process has been like.
“Gotham” is pretty great, and you’re definitely one of the defining stars on the show. What was the audition process like? How did you prepare yourself for this darker role?
It was actually one of the most straightforward auditions I’ve ever had. I didn’t know what project I was auditioning for, and they had even written scenes for us to use that didn’t mention the character names. So, whatever instinctual choices I made happened to be exactly what the producers were looking for.
Has playing a character like the Penguin (read: a pretty violent, crazy, and complex persona) influenced you on a personal level?
I haven’t been influenced in any real direct way, personality wise. However, just having the opportunity to be on such an amazing, complex show has definitely given me more confidence.
How was working on Season 2, with the character’s impressive, lengthy arc? What can fans expect from the upcoming season?
As an actor, you want to play the whole range of the human experience and that is absolutely what they wrote for Penguin last season. He went from being the king of Gotham to losing everything, including his parents. I think this year people can expect him to hold on to power a little longer. He learned a lot last season about how hard it is to be in control in Gotham City.
Who (from the cast) do you vibe with the most off-screen?
I know it sounds like a cop-out, but everyone on our cast truly loves each other. We have so much fun on and off-screen. However, I’ve had the opportunity to travel the world doing press with Sean Pertwee and Cory Michael Smith. We have become quite the trio out on the road.
Moving on from “Gotham,” what were some of your other works that you connected with?
Being on “The Walking Dead,” even for such a small role, was an experience that I’ll cherish forever. A brilliant show with brilliant people.
What was your favorite role/best performance, in your opinion?
I will have to say Penguin. I have never had the opportunity to play such a complicated, tortured person. He is also full of humanity, which is rare for a supervillain. You couldn’t ask for a better character to play.
Can you tell us a bit about your personal style? How does the work you do in film/theater play into that…if at all?
I actually have a very understated personal style. I think that because I get to play such a highly styled character, I choose to hide a bit in real life. I also am a true New Yorker who wears black every chance I get.
Has moving to New York been “moving to New York” for you? As in, was it really as life changing as people make it out to be?
I grew up in small-town Iowa. I first came to NYC for my 9th birthday, when I told my parents, “I’m going to live here someday.” I just knew it. When I finally moved here after college, I knew I had made the perfect decision and that my life was going to change here.
You’re set to star in “White Rabbit Red Rabbit,” a play which boasts no rehearsal, director, set, or spoilers…quite different than filming a TV show…and you only get the script right before you step on stage! How are you preparing yourself for this more improvised role? Are you looking forward to being free from the constraints of staying true to a character?
The best thing about this show is that I am not supposed to be prepared at all. How freeing! Any chance I get to do something completely different from “Gotham” is incredibly exciting. I feel like it keeps me fresh.
As mentioned, no cast members have been privy to rehearsal for this show. How do you think this element will affect the performance?
I am sure it will make the performance very real and in the moment. I cannot wait.
How do you think “White Rabbit Red Rabbit” will influence your subsequent roles?
Only in good ways; any chance you can get to do something completely out of your comfort zone only makes you a better, more challenging performer.
Your quote about not wanting to reveal too much of yourself as a character actor was really interesting. Could you elaborate on that? How do you feel the casting landscape has changed?
Social media has changed everything so much. Actors these days are expected, in certain ways, to be more transparent and available to everyone. Some of the mystery is certainly gone. Figuring out how to be out there for people but not giving away too much is something all performers are figuring out these days. I have no idea where this will all lead.
How do you think film and TV could evolve? It’s been a pretty good few years for TV, at least. What would you like to see in the industry?
I would just like to see more visibility for all people and cultures. We have come a long way but there is still so much more we can do. All one has to do is look at the current American political landscape to see how fractured a society we have become.
What do you think about designers like Tom Ford getting into directing?
I think it makes perfect sense. He is a visionary and should be able to work in all media.
What’s coming up next for you? Any big plans, on or off the screen?
I hope to see my family more. That’s the only draw-back from this incredible ride.