Paul Reubens Talks ‘Gotham’

Paul Reubens continues his guest arc as Penguin’s pops, Elijah Van Dahl, on Fox’s “Gotham” on Monday night.

It’s the second time the actor has stepped into the shoes of Oswald Cobblepot’s father. He previously played Tucker Cobblepot on the big screen in “Batman Returns.”

On “Gotham,” Oswald’s father goes by the name Elijah Van Dahl, and he met his recently rehabilitated son, played by Robin Lord Taylor, at the grave of his ex, Gertrude (Carol Kane). The casual run-in turned serious when Elijah learned Oswald’s age, which prompted the realization that the pair is father and son. He quickly took the Arkham Asylum graduate home to meet the Van Dahl family, who clearly had mischief on their minds when seeing their newest family member.

Paul Reubens Talks ‘Gotham’ (FOX)

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As he continued to pull double duty to promote his “Gotham” role and his new Netflix movie “Pee-Wee’s Big Holiday,” Paul told more about the Van Dahl family and joining the Fox show for a guest arc.

Access Hollywood: Have you heard any reactions from fans of ‘Gotham’ to your intro on this show yet? 
Paul Reubens: The only person I have talked to yet is Robin. I have not had a chance to talk to one person or even look at a text or an email. I’m in the middle of doing promotion for ‘Pee Wee’s Big Holiday’ and I’ve just gone from one thing to another to another and I was on a TV show while the ‘Gotham’ episode aired and I was staying in a hotel that doesn’t allow me to tape it so I have to wait ’til I get home to see it.

READ: ‘Gotham’: Paul Reubens Cast As Penguin’s Father

Access: Tell me what it was like when you met Robin. …  Did you guys meet at a table read or had you met in advance? How did that go?
Paul: I am good, close, longtime friends with Carol Kane who was playing his mother and I was working on ‘The Blacklist’ in New York and called her to see if she was available to go have lunch, and she was working with Robin and asked if she could bring Robin along and I think they both had an ulterior motive… because about halfway through lunch, they said, ‘Oh, the father’s going to be coming soon and is there any scenario where you would consider playing it?’ and I said yes immediately. I mean, it was so – I, at that time, thought I would get to work with Carol, which didn’t happen. But yeah, it was super exciting, I have to say.

Access: Did you see any of Robin as Penguin before you jumped on to the show? Did you get to watch any of what he was doing with the character?
Paul: Oh yeah, I watched a bunch of episodes.

Access: Did you take anything from that? I’m curious if there was anything you wanted to borrow from his performance when you were joining ‘Gotham’?
Paul: No, I didn’t really, because I felt sort of like that was a little, maybe a trap. I thought that wasn’t a great idea for me because they don’t actually know each other. I don’t want to give anything away, but he doesn’t know he had a father and I didn’t see anything that I thought would make sense to replicate like that.

Access: We only got a little bit of your wife and your other two children on the show in [last week’s] episode. I’m curious how quickly we’re going to get to learn more about the Van Dahls?
Paul: Next [episode]. We’re going to learn a lot about them and you’re going to be really, really freaked out by them soon. They are really freaky.

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Access: It sounds like they’re an evil family, but I’m getting the impression that your character is a bit more gray? Is that fair to maybe assume that at this point or are we going to see his darker colors as the episode roll out that you’re on?
Paul: No, I think you’re in the right ballpark. 

Access: Had you finished your Netflix movie when this came up or did they overlap a little bit?
Paul: No, I finished the movie. We were in post-production, so we were still finishing the movie, but finishing the post on the movie. 

Access: Were there a lot of questions [on the set of] ‘Gotham’ about your ‘Pee-Wee’ movie, because I imagine there are a lot of fans among the ‘Gotham’ cast?
Paul: Yeah, we talked about the ‘Pee-Wee’ movie a little bit, but mostly we’d just talk about the ‘Batman’ movies and the Batman universe and I talked more than they did, I guess, because I’m just so intrigued by it all and I have lots of questions, and everybody was so nice to me. It was a pleasure and people were super excited by my connection to the previous ‘Batman’ world and then Robin and I just really hit it off great and yeah, it was a really, really fun thing to do.

“Gotham” continues Monday night at 8/7c on Fox. “Pee-Wee’s Big Holiday” is out on Netflix now.

Jolie Lash

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