Advice On Being Creepy From The Penguin, Robin Lord Taylor

Photo courtesy of Mark Seliger/Fox
Most of us try to avoid coming off as “creepy” during the year, but Halloween is a different ball of wax (or bowl of eyeballs) entirely. Today’s the day to let our freak flags really fly and give voice to the fringe characters lurking inside us all. In keeping with the spirit of the day, we asked Robin Lord Taylor, a.k.a. the Penguin on Fox’s dystopian action drama Gotham, how to creep out like a pro.

Taylor, a 37-year-old Iowa native, creates a stormy sea within this iteration of Penguin, a character previously made iconic by Burgess Meredith (in the '60s Batman series) and Danny DeVito (in Tim Burton's Batman Returns). Gotham's younger Penguin is whip-smart, vulnerable, uncomfortably close to his mother (played by Carol Kane), and prone to murderous outbursts. Taylor has won widespread praise for his nuanced Penguin, even earning a shout-out from Mark "Luke Skywalker" Hamill. Hamill recently took to his Twitter account, @hamillhimself, declaring, "...I'm mesmerized by @robinlordtaylor as Penguin! He owns that part and I can't look away."

Without further ado...

Robin! Just when your character, Oswald Cobblepot [Penguin’s alter-ego], earns audience sympathy, he snaps...and snaps hard. What's the key to playing a convincing psychopath?

“The key is showing the humanity of a psychopath. When you understand why this person is doing deplorable things, you cannot help but sympathize a little and, therefore, see yourself making the same decisions. And that, to me, is what makes a psychopath creepy and unsettling.

“To add 'creepy' to your persona, I would say that you should be absolutely 100% believable when showing kindness to someone that you genuinely dislike. That way, when you show your true colors, it is all the more upsetting.”

What goes into a truly frightening "villain laugh?"

“Make it genuine. When it's real, it's the most frightening.”

What do you consider scary?

“When reality is questionable and unexplained.”

Which actors have been the most mesmerizing as a scary or creepy character, in your opinion?

“John Malkovich, Anthony Hopkins, Jack Nicholson, [and] Louise Fletcher.”

Are you wearing a costume this year for Halloween?

“Probably not. I get my yayas out at work.”

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