NEW YORK — Robin Lord Taylor remembers seeing the "Batman" film starring Michael Keaton and Danny DeVito on its opening night in 1989.
But the film Penguin isn't the one he's channeling in the Batman prequel "Gotham" that premieres Monday on Fox (8 p.m. EDT). Instead, he says, the comic version of Oswald Cobblepot — yes, that's The Penguin's real name — inspired his performance.
"I'm definitely influenced by Danny DeVito's performance and even Burgess Meredith's performance (in the 1960s "Batman" TV series), but since we're starting with him as a younger kid, it was just (DC Comics) in particular that were incredibly valuable," Taylor says.
After Taylor landed the role, he says DC Comics Chief Creative Officer Geoff Johns sent him the issues "Penguin: Pain and Prejudice," ''Batman: Earth One" and "Secret Origins Special Vol. 2."
Taylor says the comics set the background for him, dealing with The Penguin's early years, his name, interests and his difficult childhood when he was teased mercilessly by other kids.
"(That) just sort of crystalized where he's coming from," Taylor says.
"Gotham," starring Ben McKenzie as Detective James Gordon, begins with the murder of young Bruce Wayne's parents. In the series, Cobblepot starts out as an underling to crime boss Fish Mooney (Jada Pinkett Smith).
While his Penguin is shaped by comics, Taylor says his aim is to make the character someone "that people can identify with on a personal level."
"Once you know what someone's gone through — no matter what horrible, horrible things that they've done, you sympathize with them," Taylor says. "That's just how it is."