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Q&A: Colin O'Donoghue On Hook, Ursula & Protecting Emma

March 21, 2015   |   Written by Access Hollywood

Something fishy went down between Hook and Ursula in the past, and on Sunday’s “Once Upon a Time” the show dives into the murky waters of that backstory.

Finally exploring Ursula’s history meant slipping back on Captain Hook’s trademark coat for “Once” star Colin O’Donoghue. It also allowed him to work opposite an actor whose work he has enjoyed – “Ghostbusters” alum Ernie Hudson, who plays Poseidon (Ursula’s dad).

But, before netting details about the backstory twists, Access Hollywood had to ask Colin about having another Irish actor on set – Victoria Smurfit, who plays Cruella de Vil (in addition to Sarah Bolger, who plays Aurora).

AccessHollywood.com: You’ve got another Irish person on set with Victoria Smurfit. What has that been like? It must be fun, right — you guys have Barry’s tea together?
Colin O’Donoghue:
Yeah, it’s been great. We’ve been talking about tea bags that we miss from home and different crisps and all that kind of stuff, so it’s been fun to have somebody else. But, Sarah’s been up a good bit too – Sarah Bolger. Basically, all we talk about is like Barry’s tea and Lyon’s tea bags and stuff like that, to be honest. So it’s kind of — it’s funny.

Access: It’s been very cold up there in Vancouver and I was curious if you were missing — at least in your present day Storybrooke scenes — the three-quarter length leather coat?
Well, actually, to be honest, I’ve sort of missed it a little bit — not for warmth, because my shirt was open down to my navel basically, so it wasn’t exactly really warm, but I just kind of miss it. I spent nearly three seasons in that costume… but it’s nice to mix it up.

Access: So are you telling me it sort of was like a security blanket there for a while?
I guess so, yeah. It made me feel very pirate-y.

Access: You get to put it back on for this episode. Did that help take you back in time, to the former Hook, the pre-reformed Hook?
A little bit. You stand slightly differently in a coat that’s well, all leather and 50 pounds, in leather pants and stuff like that. It made me remember what it was like to be the old Hook.

Access: I know you are a musician, and it isn’t your style of music… but do you feel a bit like an old school rock star sometimes [in that coat]?
Yeah. I sing old ’80s power ballads when I’m in that.

Access: Like what?
Oh, you know, like a little bit of Whitesnake or you know, sometimes I do a couple little Prince numbers to go with the frills of the shirt. … I’ve got quite a back catalogue. I’ve worked up quite a few tunes now, so I’m sure I’m pretty annoying on set, but I like it. It’s fun.

Access: Does anyone ever chime in with you and maybe harmonize or help you out a little bit?
Oh yeah.

Access: Who?
I’m not gonna tell you who, but yeah, people do that.

Access: You got to play Rumple last week. What was that like to do?
It’s always fun to be able to do something different, slightly different with a character that you know so well, and especially with Rumplestiltskin. … Robert [Carlyle] was one of my heroes before I even started the show and stuff like that. I loved his work and to try to get to bring – obviously you can’t be a carbon copy of Rumplestiltskin or whatever, but I tried to bring in little elements of him, the way that Bobby stands, or the way that he moves his hands sometimes, so it was great to be able to try and play with that a little bit and hopefully it worked.

Access: This weekend’s episode has a flashback. Is this the one where we learn that basically your character is to blame for the dark path that Ursula went down? I’m just going to assume that that is your fault.
Yeah, basically. Basically it is, and Hook, he genuinely tries to help young Ursula to run away from her father, Poseidon, played by Ernie Hudson, which was fantastic. [Hook is] sort of genuinely — he’s trying to help her, but then, as is always the case with old Hook, things don’t really go according to plan, and in present day, he tries to offer her [her] happy ending, tries to take a leaf out of Emma’s book,,, in exchange for finding out exactly what Rumplestiltskin is after.

Access: Tell me about working with Ernie though, that’s really cool that he got to come in and play Ursula’s dad. … Did you get shoot the breeze behind the scenes as well?
Yeah. I was really keen to because I was such a huge ‘Ghostbusters’ fan and ‘The Crow’ kind of defined my teenage years, so I was really incredibly excited to meet him and it was great to sit there and talk to him and hear stories about what it was like to work on those movies and stuff like that. So it was brilliant.

Access: In terms of the drama on the show, what is their relationship like? If Hook wants to sail the high seas, I imagine you have to have a decent or deal-making relationship with the man who runs the oceans.
Well, Hook is trying to help Ursula, which naturally, is gonna be slightly against Poseidon, because he’s her father and stuff like that. Old Hook, even present day Hook, he doesn’t really flinch or shy away from danger and old Hook had lost so much that he sort of — he’s kind of defiant a little bit, but he’s also very selfish, so he wants to just try to do anything he can do to get his revenge on Rumplestiltskin.

Access: Does having villains in [Storybrooke] frighten your character because he’s got the beginnings of his happy ending right now with Emma and here are all these people in town who want to change things and get their own happy ending? He was a villain, who reformed and got [the start of] a happy ending, so that has to be an interesting place to be.
I don’t know if frightened – Hook just wants to protect Emma at all cost and that’s it, because he allowed himself to care for her and once Hook does that, once he gives over to that, he gives 100 percent of himself to try and be a part of that relationship and to try and make it work so, I don’t know if frightened–

Access: Nervous?
Nervous is probably the main thing, but he also is one of these people who believes that he can do anything to sort of — to survive and can sort of manage to make things work, which in all fairness, in the past, he’s sort of has really been able to kind of survive and get things to go his way — except for killing Rumplestiltskin. So maybe he doesn’t really get to do it that often, but you know what I mean.

“Once Upon a Time” airs Sunday at 8/7c on ABC.


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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