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Colin O'Donoghue on Hook/Emma's Connection and 'Idealistic' Past

October 25, 2013   |   Written by The Hollywood Reporter

The actor tells THR of the “Captain Swan” pairing: “They really see themselves in each other, and there’s no denying that there’s a spark between the two of them.”
[Warning: Spoilers ahead from Sunday’s episode.]

So about that Once Upon a Time kiss.

It’s been brewing ever since Captain Hook was introduced into the Storybrooke world in the second season, but things take a step forward (or backward, depending on your perspective) in the Hook-centric Oct. 27 episode between Hook and Emma. Not only do they [spoiler alert!] kiss (not knowing that Neal is still alive), but Hook and David — poisoned with deadly Dreamshade — embark on a mission to find a way to finally leave the treacherous world of Neverland.

Colin O’Donoghue, who plays Hook, talks to The Hollywood Reporter about Emma and Hook’s “surprising” kiss, the possible aftermath with Neal, Killian’s “idealistic” past and teaming with David.

Hook has played a more central role this season, being integrated into the main group of heroes. What has that been like?

It’s been great, first off. It’s been great to see how Hook could interact with these people. This season, Hook has decided that he wants to try to be the better man and see if it’s possible to give up that life of the constant quest of revenge and see if he could be a good person, which is difficult to do after several hundreds of years of living a certain way. I do think he’s trying to make an effort here to save Henry and help out. It’s been interesting to see him do that and how that affects him.

Is he turning over a new leaf? How successful will he be in doing that?

He’s trying to, I think. It’s hard to tell because he is Captain Hook. He is who he is. He has spent so long trying to kill Rumplestiltskin, to exact his revenge, and it’s difficult to change himself completely. What’s interesting in this episode is you get to see Killian Jones before he becomes a pirate, before he does any of that. You get to see an idealistic young naval officer and a completely different character.

How different is Killian from the Hook we know now?

He was a lieutenant in the navy and very much believed in right and wrong and doing the proper thing. He’s slightly more optimistic whereas Hook, up to this point, is slightly more jaded and [has some] resentment and hatred. Killian is full of optimism. What’s good about this episode is you start to see that Killian come back into Hook and toward the end, you see Hook begin to take form in Killian.

The cat’s out of the bag about Emma and Hook’s kiss. Were you aware that this was where this particular storyline was going?

I think it was always sort of in the background, that there would be a thing [between Emma and Hook]. Hook and Emma have this kindred spirits kind of thing. They really see themselves in each other and there’s no denying that there’s a spark between the two of them. Where the complication comes in now is obviously Hook would have given up everything to be Baelfire’s father and still sees him a little bit as that boy. At the moment when they kiss, they don’t know that Neal is in Neverland and they don’t know that he’s alive. They think he’s dead. It’ll be interesting to see what happens when all that [comes out]. It’s a weird situation. Hook was with [Neal’s] mother and now he’s kissed his ex-girlfriend, the mother of his son [Henry], so it’s sort of a weird situation. (Laughs.)

As you mentioned, Emma and Hook still don’t know that Neal’s alive. How do you think they’ll take the news if and when they find out?

I don’t know. It’ll be interesting to see. It depends on who Hook believes he is at that moment. We know that he has potential to be quite selfish and switch sides. It’ll be interesting to see if he still wants to carry on the path of trying to be a good person or not, and I think that at the end of the day, everyone is more focused on trying to save Henry, which is the whole reason they went to Neverland. All of that stuff takes a backseat for the time being. They’re all there to save Henry.

We’ve been groomed to think that there’s always something else going on with Hook. Are his intentions pure with Emma?

It’s complicated with Hook. At this moment, he definitely believes in doing the right thing and the kiss surprises both of them where it comes from. I don’t think either of them planned it, so I don’t think he has any sort of game plan around that, because it’s a surprising thing that happens. It’s always been bubbling there for Hook and Emma, so who knows which way he decides to go if he decides to pursue it.

He and David have formed an interesting alliance, of sorts, due to Hook’s knowledge of his Dreamshade dilemma.

It’s interesting because Hook sees a little bit of Liam, his older brother, in David and that helps him to try and help in whatever way that he can. Hook is the only one that knows that David is affected with the Dreamshade. What he sees in David are the qualities that he admires in his brother. That prompts him to help, basically. It’s a nice parallel to his relationship with his brother.

How much more light will be shed on Hook and Baelfire’s history?

It’s definitely something that will be explored at some point, not so much at the moment. It’s always there. Baelfire obviously spent a lot of time in Neverland, as has Hook, so who’s to say whether their paths didn’t cross — and this is after Hook handed him over to the Lost Boys, which I believe for Hook was an incredibly selfish thing to do but also an incredibly difficult thing to do. But in his mind, there was little choice when Baelfire decided not to choose Hook to be his father figure.

Once Upon a Time airs Sundays at 8 p.m. 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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