In a distinguished filmography of playing mostly kind-hearted characters, Danny DeVito scored an iconic performance as the nefarious supervillain Oswald Cobblepot aka Penguin in Tim Burton's Batman Returns. Now, DeVito's Dumbo co-star Colin Farrell is gearing up to take on the role of the villain in Matt Reeves' upcoming The Batman. During an interview with Collider, DeVito congratulated Farrell on landing the gig, but also showed a flash of that old Penguin menace while warning Farrell that he just might find the original Cobblepot standing on his doorstep.
"I haven't spoken to him since, but I'm really looking forward to it. I think that no matter what, he's gonna be great because he's a great actor. The only thing he has to worry about is that Oswald Cobblepot will show up at his house ... [DeVito gives a classic Penguin grunt.]"
Danny DeVito set a very high standard for live-action depictions of Penguin with his portrayal of the character. Not only did he look the part of the short, rotund, demented crime boss who could give Batman pause, but DeVito incorporated some classic tics into his portrayal, like the animalistic grunt, and the black foam flecking his lips at all times, that are difficult to keep out of the mind while judging any new interpretations of the character.
Still, putting a fresh spin on a classic performance can be done, as proven by Heath Ledger's follow-up to Jack Nicholson's Joker. Even Penguin has seen a critically-acclaimed live-action performance post-DeVito on the show Gotham, where Robin Lord Taylor played a younger, slimmer, and less-obviously demented version of the character.
For his part, Colin Farrell has the blessings of the original Oswald Cobblepot to put his own stamp on the Penguin. And based on a past interview, it seems the actor will be looking to previous interpretations of the character, including the one played by DeVito, to inform his performance in The Batman.
"It's all exciting. To be a part of that universe and just there are certain words that are part of my internal lexicon: Gotham City, Penguin, Joker, Batman, Bruce Wayne, Harvey Dent, all these things."
"Tim Burton's Batman was kind of my, no, I watched the Adam West TV show growing up actually as well. So Batman as a kid, yes very much, not in comic book form but the TV show I watched ardently when I was a child. And then in my teens I saw Burton's version and loved it."
The Batman is directed by Matt Reeves and co-written by Reeves and Mattson Tomlin. The film features Robert Pattinson as Bruce Wayne/ Batman, Andy Serkis as Alfred Pennyworth, Jeffrey Wright as James Gordon, Zoë Kravitz as Selina Kyle/ Catwoman, Colin Farrell as Oswald Cobblepot/ The Penguin, Paul Dano as Edward Nashton/ The Riddler, John Turturro as Carmine Falcone and Peter Sarsgaard as District Attorney Gil Colson. The film is set to be released in theaters on October 1, 2021. This news originated at Collider.