It doesn’t take a lot to get into character me’ It’s so fun ... it’s a dream for
“I would be lying if I said I didn’t feel any pressure, but I’m at the point where I’m just going along for the ride. I’m having the best time ever on Gotham, so I’m just trying to show up at work and get my head around what we’re doing each day. I’m having a blast.
When you follow in the footsteps of Burgess Meredith and Danny DeVito [who played The Penguin] – amazing actors and incredible performances – it’s hard not to be influenced. I’m sure they inspire my performance in a certain way but, at the same time, we’re showing a different part of the character that no one’s ever seen before.
In Gotham, Oswald is younger. This show is an origin story, so it’s before these villains have been incarnated.
In that sense, I feel like I have freedom to create and stretch the character. The Penguin isn’t a physically strong, imposing person. He plays people off each other to do his bidding.
To a certain extent, I’m eager to do [stunts] because I feel like authenticity is really what we’re going for in the show. The script is written so well that it’s all right there on the page. It doesn’t take a lot to get into character. In fact, it’s so fun and it’s written so well that it’s a dream for me.
The way we shoot the show also helps. We move so fast with filming that it’s almost as though you get swept up into it and the energy just carries you through.
As far as being evil goes, he’s [Penguin] finding his footing. His drive for power is his only motivation. His end game is to run the show. He refuses to be stepped on because that’s how he’s been treated his whole life. His failures are what push him towards those really dark, violent, sadistic places.
I read loads [of comics as preparation for the role]. There’s a secret origin special where it talks about The Penguin’s childhood and how he was a bullied kid in school. Then someone gave me a Penguin: PainAndPrejudice comic book, which helped me get into his head even more. It’s an awesome read.
When we start the show, Fish (Jada Pinkett Smith) is my boss. She’s very much like a mother figure. However, The Penguin’s desire for power is relentless. There’s not room for two of them.” GOTHAM SUNDAY, 8.30PM, NINE