From the very beginning of Gotham, aspiring crime lord Oswald Cobblepot (Robin Lord Taylor) had an intensely, and possibly inappropriately close relationship with his mother Gertrude (Carol Kane). The desire to earn Gertrude's respect, as well as provide for her, drove the man known as "Penguin" to do whatever twisted and violent deeds necessary to go from umbrella aficionado to club owner to powerful gangster.
Now that Theo Galavan (James Frain) and his sister Tabitha (Jessica Lucas) kidnapped and killed Gertrude, Penguin has been left without any parental influence. That may soon change, however, as we learned back in October that Paul Reubens, a.k.a "Pee-wee Herman," would be starring as Penguin's father.
Today we get our first look at Reubens in the role, courtesy of a tweet from Gotham executive producer and director Danny Cannon. Seeing Taylor and Reubens side-by-side illustrates the wisdom of the casting choice, creating a very believable father and son duo.
Reubens' career has been largely defined by his 1980s character Pee-wee Herman, a childlike alter ego that he portrayed on stage, screen, and even in years of interviews. The film Pee-wee's Big Adventure (co-written by Reubens and directed by Tim Burton) grossed nearly $41 million in domestic box office in 1985, leading to a successful children's series Pee-wee's Playhouse. In recent years, the actor/comedian has appeared as a guest star on many TV shows, including a multi-episode arc as backstabbing Mr. Vargas on The Blacklist.
The fun Gotham tie-in is that Reubens played the character Penguin's father before, in the 1992 film Batman Returns. The big screen story starred Michael Keaton as Batman and Danny DeVito as a deformed, sewer-dwelling Penguin. In this version of the villain's origin, Penguin's wealthy parents threw him in the river as an infant, feeling their son wouldn't fit in to their elite society.
We haven't heard much yet about Oswald's father on Gotham, though we know his mother definitely never abandoned him. It's expected that Penguin will become even more dangerous after the loss of his beloved Gertrude. As actor Taylor said recently in THR, "his [last] shred of humanity has been ripped away from him." We'll find out when his father appears if he'll be a source of solace for Penguin, or another adversary. A lot depends on the reason for his absence until now.
Gotham returns to FOX on Monday, February 29, at 8/7c.
Source: Danny Cannon
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