Robin Lord Taylor on How ‘Gotham’ Has Changed His Life: “My identity until this was that of a struggling actor”

Robin Lord Taylor as Penguin in Gotham

There’s a fleeting sense of comfort. My health insurance isn’t going to lapse for a while, that’s nice.” – Robin Lord Taylor on Being a Series Regular

Gotham, the FOX television series that explores the origins of Batman’s villains, became almost an instant hit. A lot of that has to do with Robin Lord Taylor, who portrays Oswald Cobblepot — the gangster who will one day become the Penguin. Taylor has become the breakthrough actor on the show, and in an interview with the New York Times, he spoke about his life before Gotham and how the show has changed his life.

Taylor explains that he learned about being an outsider from his youth as a theater-loving kid in Iowa. He recalls, “I grew up in a very Friday Night Lights, sports-focused town. I did not play the sports. I was never bullied physically but I was called names. I was also an overweight kid. I knew what it’s like to feel like the other, to feel written off for things that were not in my control — my appearance, my interests. Which is not to say I had an incredibly hard childhood. I never felt the extent of the alienation that Oswald feels, but I understand where he’s coming from. And I’d be lying if I didn’t say my own personal ambition is fed by that, too, in the same way Oswald’s is. You move to New York. You want to be the biggest, most fully realized version of yourself you can be. A lot of that is fueled by this desire to not feel small, and to make a name for myself and establish myself in a way that wasn’t expected of me.”

Because of his humble upbringing, Taylor finds it hard to believe that not only is he on TV every week, but he’s involved in the story of one of the biggest pop culture franchises ever created. He says, “It hits me constantly, all the time — there’s really no getting used to it. My identity until this was that of a struggling actor. The ultimate dream would be that I’d be a series regular. To have that happen and have the show be not just any show, but part of this giant pop culture institution — there’s no preparing you for that.

Of course, things have changed for Taylor since he started on Gotham, both good and bad. He points out, “There’s a fleeting sense of comfort. My health insurance isn’t going to lapse for a while, that’s nice. Being recognized in the street. Social media sort of exploded for me this year. Of course, I was on Facebook before and I did have Twitter, but no one cared. I can’t tell if I preferred it that way or this way.

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