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Colin O'Donoghue on Whether Captain Hook is a Hero or Villain

October 19, 2013   |   Written by IGN

Irish actor Colin O’Donoghue quickly became a popular addition to Once Upon a Time last year, as he joined the series as Captain Hook. Season 3 has put him in a bigger spotlight, as one of a group of central characters traveling through Neverland together, attempting to rescue Henry (Jared Gilmore) from a villainous incarnation of Peter Pan (Robbie Kay).

During my recent visit to the Vancouver set of Once Upon a Time, O’Donoghue spoke about his character’s fine line between good and evil, his current journey and more.

Question: Is whether Hook is good or evil an ongoing theme this season?

O’Donoghue: He’s a guy who’s battling with whether he wants to continue with his quest for revenge or not and how that’s shaped his whole character over whatever number of hundreds of years. I think it’s very difficult not to be selfish anymore when you’ve been so selfish and so self-absorbed for hundreds of years, so I guess that’s kind of a big struggle he’s going to have this season.

Question: Will we see Hook and Peter Pan face off?

O’Donoghue: Obviously, everyone is in Neverland now and they’re bound to cross paths at some stage. I mean… It would be interesting to see what their past was like. We haven’t delved into it a huge amount at the minute, but you’ll definitely see them meet. I think with what [Once producers Eddy Kitsis and Adam Horowitz] are great at doing… Even the spin they’ve put on Peter Pan is fantastic! And Robbie [Kay], who plays him, is brilliant. He’s kind of the perfect Peter Pan.

Question: Peter Pan here is portrayed as a trickster.

O’Donoghue: He has a nasty streak in him and he’ll use anything and everything to get what he wants in a slightly similar way that Captain Hook does. But I think it’s slightly more sinister in this version of Peter Pan.

Question: Can you preview what we’ll see about Hook’s background?

O’Donoghue: Yeah, you get to see a bit more of his reasons behind being the way that he is and being such a, I guess, alone character. You’ll definitely see different colors to Hook and to Killian Jones before he becomes Hook. You begin to understand a little bit more why he is so self-absorbed, apart from the whole stuff with Milah, and why he’s a pirate; how he becomes a pirate and all that kind of stuff, which is brilliant. I think the guys have done a great job with that.

Question: Were you surprised by his backstory?

O’Donoghue: What’s great about when you get the episodes… Because we don’t fully know everything that’s happening and all that kind of stuff and then you go, “Oh, my god! Really?!” Yeah, there’s lot of surprises, which I can’t really go into at the minute. But it’s good. I think it should be a really good episode.

Question: We’ve seen Hook show many different facets before. What do you think the character’s identity is in Season 3?

O’Donoghue: I think the character in Season 3 is definitely, he’s sort of… He’s at conflict with himself really, you know what I mean? He’s desperately trying to figure out exactly who he is now, because I do think he wants to let go of his hatred, his quest for revenge. I think he wants that, he wants to try to do the right thing. But also, within the confines of being Captain Hook, and a pirate, I think that’s a major struggle that he’s having at the minute. Because even if he tries to do some good, there’s always going to be that part of him that is going to want to be selfish and makes sure that he’s protected that kind of way.

Question: He’s clearly sweet on Emma.

O’Donoghue: Oh, is he? [Laughs]

Question: Does he recognize that she might still have feelings for Neal?

O’Donoghue: I think you kind of see it in the first episode. He says, “I miss him too.” Because, essentially, Hook was willing to give up everything to become a father figure to Bae. And I think that was a very real thing for him. He always feels this kind of fatherly thing towards Neal or Balefire and he definitely sees that in Emma and he says it to her. That’s why he gave her the sword. And by the way, he had have kept that for hundreds of years as a keepsake for him. So him giving that to her says, “Look, I’m letting go of all the rubbish. I’m giving you this because I care about him too.” And he says, “I miss him.” So it’s hard, if he has that sort of thing for Emma, while, essentially, Neil has died in their eyes.

Question: What’s the experience been like for you being a part of the show this past year and experiencing its fandom?

O’Donoghue: I mean, to be honest with you, you guys are up here at the minute but we’re up here working. I live in Ireland. We’re working pretty much every day so you just come in, you work, and you go home. It is a bit surreal and you sort of see people drawing pictures of you and stuff. I mean, it’s great, but it’s kind of a strange thing. But I’m delighted to work on the show. I love it and Captain Hook is a great character, so I really enjoy it.

Who Is Colin?

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Colin O’Donoghue is an Irish actor/musician. He was born in Drogheda, County Louth, Ireland on January 26th, 1981. He is best known for his role as Captain Hook in Once Upon a Time and his role as Michael Kovak in the Rite.

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