After having put their differences aside to work together and save the day, the fairy tale characters from the ABC drama series Once Upon a Time will be facing a new threat, in the form of the Wicked Witch of the West (Rebecca Mader). When things pick back up, Captain Hook (Colin O’Donoghue) has come calling on Emma Swan (Jennifer Morrison) in New York City, in an attempt to jog her memory, which had been wiped clean in order to save the residents of Storybrooke, so that she can once again help her fairy tale family and friends out of a desperate situation. The show also stars Ginnifer Goodwin, Lana Parrilla, Josh Dallas, Emilie de Ravin, Michael Raymond-James, Jared S. Gilmore and Robert Carlyle.
During this exclusive phone interview with Collider, actor Colin O’Donoghue talked about how Hook really believed that he would just swoop in and save the day, that the relationship between Hook and Emma is a complicated one, how big of a part of the story the Wicked Witch of the West will be, what fans can expect from the interaction between Hook and Blackbeard (Charles Mesure), how shocking the upcoming major character death will be, what he thinks of Hook’s backstory, that he believes Hook’s feelings for Emma are genuine, and what he’s enjoyed most about bringing this version of Captain Hook to life. Check out what he had to say after the jump, and be aware that there are some spoilers.
Collider: In the mid-season finale, Hook shows up at Emma’s door in New York City, a year later, hoping that she’s going to remember their connection the same way that he does, and it clearly doesn’t work. Did he really think he’d just swoop in and kiss her, and she’s remember him and everything else, and he’d just save the day?
COLIN O’DONOGHUE: I think so, yeah. In Hook’s mind, it was a last-ditch effort that true love’s kiss would break the curse. In some weird way, he thought that maybe that was what he was going to achieve. That’s not saying there isn’t the possibility of something there, but that was his reason for trying.
When things pick back up, will we see that maybe he did have more of a lasting affect on her than even she let on?
O’DONOGHUE: Their relationship is complicated. He definitely has an affect on her. How it progresses from there is very complicated. That’s the only way I can really put it without spoiling anything. Emma and Hook have always had a mutual respect for each other. They see themselves in each other. That’s where it is, at the moment.
Will Hook continue to attempt to get Emma to remember who she is?
O’DONOGHUE: Well, there’s a new curse, so he needs her to remember. He’s there because she’s the savior and she needs to, in some way, help her fairy tale family. That’s his reasoning for coming back for her.
Is this new curse tied to the Wicked Witch of the West?
O’DONOGHUE: She’s definitely a big part of the story, and she’s a part of this new thing that’s happening, in the real world. She’s going to be a huge part of the show, and I think people will be excited. Much like the character of Captain Hook, she’s a bit different from the witch that you’ve traditionally seen. She’s definitely a formidable character. Throughout the season, you’ll see why she’s green and what made her turn green, as well. People are in for a real treat. People are complicated. Everybody has some kind of issue, or something that they’re dealing with. Even if you’re a saint, you might have your own demons that you’re trying to come to terms with. Being able to do that with characters that traditionally might be quite black and white, and to put a spin on that, is something that they’ve done really well on this show. I think they’re really achieved their goal in doing that.
O’DONOGHUE: She interacts with a lot of people, and you’ll see her interact with Hook. She is definitely a major part of what’s going down in Storybrooke.
What will the upcoming interactions between Hook and Blackbeard be like?
O’DONOGHUE: Charles Mesure, who plays Blackbeard, is fantastic. You don’t really get much more iconic, as a pirate, than Blackbeard. People are in for a treat, with that episode. You’ll get to see Hook interacting a bit with quite a formidable pirate.
Showrunners Adam Horowitz and Eddy Kitsis have said that a major character will die, in these remaining episodes. Is that something that viewers will see coming, or will it be a total shock?
O’DONOGHUE: I can’t talk about it too much because it’s a major thing. But like with anything, when a major character dies, it will be a shock to some people. Some people will say, “Well, I saw that coming,” and other people will say, “Well, I didn’t see that coming. I thought it was going to be somebody else.” People are always great at saying, “Yep, I knew that was going to happen,” but it will be a shock. And how it happens will be a shock.
Viewers have gotten some great backstory about your character this season. Did you know that he would be more than just a villain, and that he would have all of these other sides to him?
O’DONOGHUE: When I spoke to Eddy and Adam, when I first started, we had discussed how this Hook would be. I knew he was certainly more complicated than a black and white villain. Part of what I like about the best villains in TV and film is when you feel sorry for them, and that makes you feel even worse for feeling guilty about wanting them to succeed, in some way. When I first started, on the first episode, in particular, he was a product of circumstances, but in the first part of [Season 2], he definitely was out of himself and was willing to do quite nasty things for that. He had a goal, and he had blinders on, for whatever he could do to achieve that goal. He wanted to succeed. So, I wanted people to feel bad for thinking that he was a guy that they’d like to hang out with, which I think makes a good villain. At the end of the day, he’s a pirate, and a selfish pirate. He’s somebody who’s lived for 300-odd years, just looking after number one. That’s very difficult to break.
O’DONOGHUE: That happened pretty much from the first episode that they interacted in. I definitely heard from people that they thought there was a chemistry between them both, and that’s probably because they both are quite similar. In some ways, they have quite similar backgrounds. They both were abandoned. Hook was abandoned as a child, as well. They both have lived just to survive for themselves and make a life to suit themselves, and in a way, they’ve connected through that. I think people saw that, from the start. And from the first time that they met, Hook has been an incredible flirt, so that’s part of it, as well. But they’ve definitely developed a weird relationship, over the period of getting to know each other. They definitely have a connection, I would say.
Do you think his feelings for her are genuine now, even if it might have just been a strange curiosity, in the beginning?
O’DONOGHUE: I think they are, yeah. In the episode where they tried to free Neal from the cage, they had to reveal a secret, and Hook’s secret was that he has feelings for Emma. They had to tell the truth in order to succeed, so in his mind, he was telling the truth.
What’s been the best part about not only bringing Captain Hook to life, in this way, but also really getting to put your stamp on the character and have people see him in a way that we haven’t really seen him before?
O’DONOGHUE: It’s just a great opportunity to play such an iconic character. I’ve been given a great challenge, to make it the way that I would want it to be. In some way, I think we’ve achieved that. He’s a completely different Captain Hook than we’ve ever seen before. It’s nice to think that, in some way, I had a hand in helping to recreate a character that people have grown up knowing about. I wear a lot of leather and eyeliner as Hook, and I’ve never gotten to do that before.
Now that you’ve played Captain Hook for a little while, do you feel some sense of ownership? Does it make you feel more protective of him, as a character, or are you interested in what other actors might do with the character, now that there are some movies coming up?
O’DONOGHUE: It’s like going to different versions of Hamlet. The Hook in the context of Once Upon A Time is very different than any other Hook. This Hook is exclusive to Once Upon A Time. That’s the world that he lives in. There are other versions of characters that exist in different things, and it’s always interesting to see what other people are willing to do with him. At the end of the day, I didn’t create Captain Hook. I don’t really have a sense of ownership of him. But I love playing Captain Hook, on this show. He’s a great character. I’m just very happy to be able to do it.
Does it feel bad-ass to get dressed up in the wardrobe and put the hook on and feel a bit like a rock star?
O’DONOGHUE: It does, yeah. Hook is the rock star of the seas. That’s the way he would probably see himself. He’d probably listen to a lot of INXS. I do sing a lot of ‘80s power ballads, between takes. The costume lends itself to it.
What has most surprised you about the journey that you’ve taken with this character?
O’DONOGHUE: Everything, really. It’s this show, in general, due to the creators and writers. I can’t get my head around imagining how I could get all these fairy tale character to co-exist in the same world, and have different connections, here and there. That’s what amazes me. They have Captain Hook exist in the same world as the Wicked Witch and Snow White. It’s really clever, how they worked in the crocodile who, as it turned out, was Rumplestiltskin biting off Captain Hook’s hand, or the relationship Hook had with Mila, Rumplestiltskin’s wife. I wouldn’t be able to imagine that, but that’s not my job. They have a really clear vision in their mind, and they make it work. It’s incredible.
When you auditioned for this show, did you know you were actually auditioning for Captain Hook?
O’DONOGHUE: Yeah, I knew, and I went in with a clear vision in my mind of how I wanted to play him. Whether it was right or not was beside the point. I knew how I wanted to be able to play him, if I was to do it. And he’s pretty much turned out that way.
Doing a show like this is really the height of make-believe and using your imagination. Do you enjoy getting to be a part of such a fantastical story, with the effects, green screen and, at times, acting to nothing, or is that a bit of an adjustment?
O’DONOGHUE: I enjoy it. When I was younger, I was hopefully going to do animation and special effects. I grew up watching movies and being amazed at the animatronics you’d see in stuff like The Dark Crystal, and all those kinds of movies. So, I’m always enthralled with how they can make it all work, behind the scenes, with the visual effects. It’s strange, the first time you do a full day of green screen work. I had a scene with Robert Carlyle, which was crazy enough, as it was. I grew up watching Trainspotting. But then, it was in this giant green room, and you’re looking at little bits of green tape on the floor and trying to figure out where the wall is that you can’t walk through. It’s a great challenge and a great opportunity to do all of that stuff. As an actor, that’s part and parcel for why you do it. You try to create new characters and new worlds for people to escape reality for an hour, or whatever.
With such a big cast and so many characters, and still so many characters from fairy tales that haven’t even been on the show yet, is there one that you’d love to interact with or get a storyline with, just to see how Hook might behave around them?
O’DONOGHUE: I’m very lucky that Hook has had some sort of interaction with pretty much everybody, whether it be in a good way or a bad way. I get to do a little bit with everyone, on the show. Towards the end of this season, you get to see Hook interact with Ariel, which was fantastic. I was really looking forward to working with Joanna [Garcia Swisher]. So, I’ve been lucky. I think I’ve worked with pretty much everybody, on some level, which is great. He’s great because he’ll switch sides. He’ll work with the bad guys, like when he was with Cora, and then he’s with the good guys. It’s a great opportunity, to be able to do all that stuff.
Once Upon A Time airs on Sunday nights on ABC.