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“He is different than any other Hook,” says Irish actor Colin O’Donoghue of ABC’s Once Upon a Time. “It’s a fantastic thing to be able to get to play such an iconic character and be able to do it in a way where I can put my own spin on it. That was one of the things I thought about when I was coming into it. I was a bit worried about whether or not people would respond to this Hook, or whether they would be like, ‘He’s not like the Hook that we grew up with so we don’t accept him’. But people have taken Hook to heart a little bit, which is good.”

Indeed, O’Donoghue’s Captain Hook, like many of the other characters in Once Upon a Time, has been reimagined. In the fractured fairy tale series he’s a younger, swashbuckling rogue from Peter Pan who has far more shades of gray than the Hook’s we’ve seen in the past.
And now that he’s over his quest for vengeance against Rumeplstiltskin, he’s more than a little taken with Jennifer Morrison’s Emma as they go off on their latest adventure involving the Wicked Witch.

While Hook as gone through a big evolution on Once Upon a Time, from being a young pirate captain named Killian Jones to the sometime villainous, sometimes heroic Captain Hook, O’Donoghue wasn’t so sure he was right for Hook initially.

At his audition, “My first thought was, ‘Well, I’m not old enough to play Captain Hook’. Obviously everybody had that traditional idea of Captain Hook in their minds. Then there’s an opportunity to put my own spin on it, and obviously [creators] Eddie [Kitsis] and Adam [Horowitz] wanted to go for a slightly younger Captain Hook. I thought it was a nice way to put a slant on the guy, try and make him slightly more lovable than outwardly evil, which is how he’s always been portrayed before. He’s just sort of a nasty bad guy in everything else, whereas in this, I wanted people to feel bad for liking him,” says O’Donoghue.

And like him we do, perhaps because he reminds us of another pirate.

“To be honest with you, when we were working on the swordfights and stuff, his style of swordfighting is kind of Errol Flynn-ish. I wanted to bring in a bit of that old swashbuckling myth back into Hook. There’s a little bit of the Dread Pirate Roberts in there as well. He’s a mixture of all the famous swashbucklers,” he says.

“When I first started, obviously he was far more out for himself. I use the term ‘evil’ very loosely. I don’t think he was necessarily evil. I think he was a product of his circumstances. He used whatever he could use for his own gains to try to get his revenge. He was willing to step over anybody to do that. I don’t think it was necessarily that he’s an evil person. You saw in Episode 4 of Season 2 when he first comes in, he falls in love with Rumpelstiltskin’s wife. She chooses to leave Rumpelstiltskin to be with him. It’s not like he stole her away from Rumpelstiltskin. She made a decision that she wanted to leave Rumpelstiltskin and go be with him. But he was in love with her. He always has it in his heart to be able to love. With Emma and Hook, they’re kind of similar. They both are looking after number one for a long time. They were both very lonely. They’re kind of kindred spirits,” says O’Donoghue.

“Hook definitely has feelings for Emma. He sort of said it towards the end of the first part of this season. He admits in the cave that he believes that he can possibly begin to love again with Emma. He’s not lying there. I think he definitely believes there could be a chance of redeeming himself or trying to find love again, and it’s all because of her,” he says.
However, playing an iconic villain and swashbuckling his way on a pirate ship through the various adventures on Once Upon a Time has had it’s challenges.

Most notably, that hook presents a problem when it comes to “not being able to use my left hand. It sounds like a ridiculous thing, but when you’re climbing up a beanstalk that’s 50 feet in the air and you have to do it one handed, it’s a bit of a pain. Other than that, he’s more fun t oplay than challenging. I get the opportunity to do whatever I want with this character, say whatever I want. He’s so full of innuendo and one-liners. You can play whatever way you want with him. I’ve been very lucky because he interacts with the good guys and he interacts with the bad guys. There’s a bit of both in him. I get to play the full gamut, really,” he says.

According to executive producer and co-creator Edward Kitsis, “Captain Hook is always an evolving character. For most of his life, he was hell-bent on revenge. Now that he’s put that to bed, we know that he really has got a thing for Emma…We’re going to see a couple different Captain Hooks. We’re going to see a Captain Hook when he thought he would never see Emma again and he returns to his swashbuckling ways, and then we’re going to see a Captain Hook in the future who has to work with the heroes once again for his own personal safety.”

O’Donoghue credits Kitsis and Horowitz with the vision to take Captain Hook and all the characters on Once Upon a Time far beyond their literary inspirations. “It’s something they do really well, take these stories that we all know and have grown up with and put a slant on them or twist, and turn them into something else. I don’t know how they do it. I don’t know how they can come up with half the things they come up with. But I guess that’s why I’m an actor and not a writer,” he says.

“That’s a difficult thing to do with so many beloved characters, to try and give people a new vision of what these character are like in this world of Once Upon a Time. Hats off to Eddie and Adam and all the writers to be able to do that so successfully that people are willing to accept that Snow White and Prince Charming can exist in the same world as Rumpelstiltskin,” says O’Donoghue.

 

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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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Once Upon A Time
Colin as Hook/Killian Jones
Status: Season 6
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'Once Upon a Time' tells the story of a new world, one in which fairy tales and modern-day life collide.

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Colin as Peter
Status: Post-production
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After the loss of her family, a young woman struggles to survive in a world long-since destroyed by disease; but when a lonely traveler offers her a place in his community, she must decide if the promise of a better life is worth the risk of trusting him.
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