Why the Penguin loves the Hawkeyes

Robin Lord Taylor calls the University of Iowa "a fantastic institution. What the sports do to support that is really important." EPA/OLIVIER ANRIGO

NOVI, Mich. -- Robin Lord Taylor lives in New York City now, but he never strays too far from his Shueyville, Iowa, roots, including the Iowa Hawkeyes.

Taylor, 38, who portrays Oswald Cobblepot in the TV show "Gotham" and was Abernathy Darwin Dunlap in the movie "Accepted," spent time recently chatting with ESPN at the Motor City Comic Con about his love of Iowa football, the first time he stepped into Kinnick Stadium and memories of his father.

This Q&A was edited for content and clarity.

Q: How'd you become an Iowa football fan?

Taylor: I grew up about 20 minutes away from Iowa City, and, as you know, Iowa doesn't have any pro ball teams, so it's the Hawkeyes and the Cyclones. We were right by Iowa City. My dad was an alum of the University of Iowa, and at some point when I was a little kid, my dad started getting season tickets, and so full-on tailgate off the back of the Chevy Suburban with the grill and everything and Bloody Mary's. That was my intro into football, and I was like, 'Yes, as long as there is a party attached to it, I'm all about it.' But no, it was amazing. Then I became a fan, and I have a lot of hometown pride, and I can't tell you how fortunate I am to be from the Eastern Iowa area. It's very important to me.

Your dad got season tickets so you'd go regularly? Is there a favorite football memory?

Taylor: Hayden Fry was the coach throughout my entire childhood. I was there when Chuck Long went to the Rose Bowl. I wasn't there, I was little at that point. But my parents were just super enthusiastic about it, and it was something we shared as a family, and yeah, it was like, I just remember that. I can't tell you how amazing these tailgates were. They went all out.

What's your Saturday like now when Iowa is playing?

Taylor: I try to watch as many games as possible. I feel a little bit like I am the curse. When they went to the Rose Bowl recently, I was so excited about the game and it was such a great moment for my family, and oh, it was rough. So maybe it's better if I don't watch. Whatever.

Do you go to the Iowa bar in Manhattan?

Taylor: The Iowa bar is on the east side of Manhattan, but I haven't been yet. I'm also a Northwestern graduate, so I have to give a shout out, of course, to the Wildcats.

What did you do in college then?

Taylor: Back then it was really exciting. My freshman year was the year with Gary Barnett. They went to the Rose Bowl, and Darnell Autry, he was a theatre major, too, which was really funny. That was my freshman year, so at that point I was fully on the Wildcats side, but then, you know, after a while, my family just carried on with it, and after I graduated from Northwestern I was like, 'I'll go back to being an Iowa fan, because I still go to the games.' I try to go once a year. My mom still has the tickets.

When do you go?

Taylor: There's a game around Thanksgiving every year, so I go when I'm home anyway. I can usually tie it into that. Hopefully this year it'll work out, but, man, it's cold. My God. You take it into November, it's just brutal.

Who were some of your favorite players?

Taylor: It would be Chuck Long. It was like '85, I believe. That was right when I started paying attention and such a huge year for the Hawkeyes. That was when I snapped out of it and really started paying attention as a game. So I would say him. Then over the years, being there when Hayden Fry was the coach for all those years and then he retired and seeing him come back, I think they gave him an award or something. It's a legacy I carry with me. Like my dad is no longer with us, and I look back at those memories so fondly, and it still is a connection to him, you know. It's this weird thing. People can trivialize sports or they can trivialize television, like what I do, but those memories you create with people are real, and that's ultimately why I think it stays so important and people are so passionate about it, you know. It's a thing that's ingrained in you in childhood that connects you to people who are not with you anymore.

What's your favorite Iowa memory with your dad?

Taylor: There's a couple. I went there with him when he was younger. He was a little rowdier. And then he went all the way up until the last year he was with us, and, like, I wasn't there with him for that game, but he had a black-and-gold motorized scooter. He wasn't driving anymore at that point, but clearly he got on the scooter, and he f---ing took off. Like we were walking in this throng of people, and my dad is [makes motoring sound]. It's like, 'OK, later, Dad. Have some more independence clearly now.' So many memories.

What do you think of Iowa football now?

Taylor: It's great. I think Kirk Ferentz is fantastic. I think he's revitalized the program in many ways, and you know, it's also something that I've been at games since the '80s and it's just become so much bigger. It's now just not like this concentrated Big Ten in the Midwest. It goes all over the place. It's really exciting. I'm fully in support of it, and the University of Iowa itself is a fantastic institution. What the sports do to support that is really important.