8 Actors Who Could Play the Penguin in the New Batman Movie

The next Batman movie may have found its villain. In May 2018, Variety’s Justin Kroll reported on Twitter that DC is interested in making the Penguin the antagonist of Matt Reeves’ The Batman. 

This movie is still in the early stages of development, and Kroll notes that it’s possible the Penguin will instead end up in DC’s other upcoming movie Birds of Prey. Either way, it looks like the studio is interested in bringing Oswald Cobblepot to the big screen sooner rather than later.

So who should be cast as this iconic character that has previously been portrayed by Danny DeVito, Burgess Meredith, and others? Here are eight actors we think would be up to the task, ranked leading up to our top choice.

8. Paul Giamatti

Actor Paul Giamatti attends For Your Consideration Screening and Panel for Showtime's 'Billions' at The WGA Theater on April 26, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California.

Paul Giamatti | Jason Kempin/Getty Images

  • Known for: Sideways, John Adams, Billions

It’s no secret that Paul Giamatti is a great actor, and he has actually been a part of a comic book movie before: He played Rhino in The Amazing Spider-Man 2. But that was a fairly small role clearly intended to set up a sequel, which never happened since the movie was so bad.

But Giamatti tends to excel at playing characters who present themselves as having it together but are also close to losing it at any moment, which would be perfect for the Penguin.

Next: This comedic actor would be great in the role.

7. Jonah Hill

Jonah Hill

Jonah Hill | Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images

  • Known for: Superbad, 21 Jump Street, The Wolf of Wall Street

Although Jonah Hill is primarily known for his comedic performances, over the past few years, he has proven to be a great dramatic actor as well. He was particularly impressive in The Wolf of Wall Street in a role that earned him an Oscar nomination.

Hill was also great in War Dogs, a movie in which he plays an arms dealer who has an air of professionalism to him but who can shift right from being a nice, unassuming man to pulling a machine gun out of his trunk. Just imagine Hill dressed as the Penguin during this War Dogs scene and you’ll understand the potential in his casting.

Next: This is another comedic actor who could be surprisingly great in the role.

6. Nick Frost

Actor Nick Frost poses on arrival for the L.A. Premiere of the film 'The World's End' in Hollywood, California, on August 21 2013.

Nick Frost | Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images

  • Known for: Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, The World’s End

After the rumors about the Penguin came out, one name immediately popped up on social media: Nick Frost. Known for his collaborations with Simon Pegg in movies like Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, Frost is also a phenomenal dramatic actor, as was often evident in those Edgar Wright films’ more serious scenes.

Frost himself is up for it; when a Twitter user brought up his name for the part, Frost responded, “Cool! I’m in! Thanks everyone.”

Next: This actor would provide a completely different take on the character.

5. Richard Armitage

Actor Richard Armitage attends the premiere of New Line Cinema, MGM Pictures And Warner Bros. Pictures' 'The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies' at Dolby Theatre on December 9, 2014 in Hollywood, California.

Richard Armitage | Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

  • Known for: The HobbitHannibalThe Crucible

In April 2018, a Reddit user posted what they claimed was a series of leaks about the upcoming DC films. Part of this was that the new Penguin had been modeled after Richard Armitage, who has been contacted about taking on the role.

This is almost certainly just a fake rumor. But it did get us thinking about the enormous potential of Armitage in the role. This could be an interesting reimagining of the character as someone tall and imposing rather than short and chubby. Maybe a new angle on the Penguin is what the DC universe needs.

Next: This actor would be perfect for the role mainly thanks to one TV performance. 

4. Stephen Graham

Actor Stephen Graham attends the Nathalie Dubois Pre-Emmy Gift Suite at Luxe Hotel on September 17, 2011 in Beverly Hills, California.

Stephen Graham | Imeh Akpanudosen/Getty Images

  • Known for: Boardwalk EmpirePirates of the Caribbean, This is England

The Penguin in the comics is essentially a mob boss, and it would be cool to see the new movie provide a slightly more serious take on that without any of the goofiness.

If this is going to be the approach, one actor who fans have suggested is Stephen Graham; he played Al Capone on the HBO original series Boardwalk Empire. Just take a look at any one of Graham’s more threatening moments in that show and it’s not difficult to see him as the gentleman of crime.

Next: This great character actor could step into the spotlight with the Penguin.

3. Timothy Spall

Timothy Spall attends the 'The Party' press conference during the 67th Berlinale International Film Festival Berlin at Grand Hyatt Hotel on February 13, 2017 in Berlin, Germany.

Timothy Spall | Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

  • Known for: Harry PotterEnchantedSweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

If this portrayal of the Penguin is going to be as gross and creepy as DeVito’s, there’s one actor who comes to mind: Timothy Spall.

You’ll recognize him for a wide variety of roles, including Peter Pettigrew in the Harry Potter film series and Nathaniel in Enchanted. Although he’s typically known for his supporting characters, this could be the perfect chance for him to step into the spotlight.

Next: This actor is clearly very enthusiastic about the possibility of playing the Penguin.

2. Josh Gad

US actor Josh Gad poses upon arrival to attend the world premiere of the film 'Murder on the Orient Express' at the Royal Albert Hall in west London on November 2, 2017.

Josh Gad | Tolga Akmen/AFP/Getty Images

  • Known for: Frozen, Beauty and the Beast, Murder on the Orient Express

Josh Gad is another actor whose roles tend to be on the comedic side. He has delved into more serious drama in movies like Murder on the Orient Express, although this was not exactly the most demanding role of all time. Still, Gad is a talented enough actor that we think he could take on the role of the Penguin.

It helps that Gad himself is a huge comic book fan, and he’s clearly interested in the job. On Twitter, he has randomly posted images of the Penguin several times and even once met with DC film executives, posting a photo of himself holding a Penguin comic.

Next: This is our number one choice for the role.

1. Andy Serkis

Andy Serkis attends the 90th Annual Academy Awards at Hollywood & Highland Center on March 4, 2018 in Hollywood, California.

Andy Serkis | Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images

  • Known for: Star WarsPlanet of the ApesBlack Panther

Andy Serkis has portrayed so many great characters over the years, both with and without motion capture, from Gollum and Supreme Leader Snoke to Ceasar and Ulysses Klaue.

First of all, Serkis being cast would make logical sense since he has a relationship with director Matt Reeves, having worked with him on the new Planet of the Apes movies. But he’d also be perfect for the role itself, mixing the terrifying and threatening nature of Supreme Leader Snoke with some of the more comedic elements of Ulysses Klaue.

This performance would also likely be different enough from all the others to set it apart. Let’s hope Serkis would consider it.

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