Once Upon a Time's Colin O'Donoghue on the mystery behind Hook's return
'I have to be honest, it’s an episode that I really, really, really, really don’t want people to be spoiled on,' the actor says
Once Upon a Time is undergoing a major overhaul heading into season 7, which means new characters, new locales, and even a new curse. To keep track of all the big changes, EW will bring you interviews with the cast — new and old — along with executive producers Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis over the next two weeks until the ABC fairy-tale drama’s return.
It’s been one of the big burning questions since Once Upon a Time‘s reboot was announced: How is Captain Hook returning, but Emma Swan is not?
OUAT fans will have to wait until the second hour, which features Jennifer Morrison’s “emotional curtain call,” to get a better sense of why Colin O’Donoghue is continuing on with the show, but here’s what you need to know in the meantime: Like Regina (Lana Parrilla), Hook is among those who answer Henry’s (Andrew J. West) call for help in the Enchanted Forest. However, we’ll find a very different Hook in Hyperion Heights — a despondent cop named Rogers. Just how different is he? EW turned to O’Donoghue to get the scoop.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: What is Hook’s mindset when we pick back up with him? How different is this guy?
COLIN O’DONOGHUE: So, this is a whole different mindset than you will have seen Hook have before. There is a sense of loss there and a wonder of what that is for him without him realizing it, if that makes sense. Because of the curse, he doesn’t know a lot. He obviously doesn’t know who he is, he doesn’t know what’s gone on in his past, he doesn’t know any of that stuff, but there’s a thing there that is needling at him and that’s what’s making him who he is at the minute. This version of Hook, as the uniform cop, definitely wants to do the right thing. He wants to be the right person and do everything by the book. Through the course of things, we’ll see that it’s not as cut and dry as that in Hyperion Heights.
How different does it feel on set without so many returning faces? Is it refreshing a bit to have some new blood around?
Yeah, honestly, it’s not even just cast-wise, it’s like half of our crew are different now as well. It really is like we’re starting a whole new show, which is incredibly exciting. Also, because you know the pedigree of the writing and you know you already have the fans who are passionate about the show, so you have the security of knowing that’s there, starting basically what’s a new show. On set has been fantastic. I’ve gotten to work with Andy now quite a bit. To have people be so excited to be there, to be a part of what I do genuinely feel is a very special show, is really refreshing. Also Lana, Bobby, and I essentially are creating new characters and that’s always exciting and terrifying at the same time, which is great, which is what you need. That’s what actors need to be able to thrive. Bobby said this at Comic-Con, and I think it was such a great take on it, he said, “For the show to progress, it had to change in a drastic way.” For it to be able to progress into a seventh season, eighth season, ninth season, or whatever it’s going to be, you need to have those drastic moments. Also, what’s great is you see that Eddy [Kitsis] and Adam [Horowitz] and all the writers are really stoked to have incredibly talented actors coming onto the show who are really excited about where it’s going.
I mean we obviously miss, as actors and as friends, the cast who aren’t coming back, who aren’t here full-time. I know quite a few will be back in, which is great too. I’ve spent nearly every day working with Jen [Morrison] for the last five years, so you obviously are going to miss that, but for me it’s equally as important as remembering to look forward to what the show is about to become. Because, genuinely, the writing this season is some of the best I’ve read. Episode 4 is stellar, it’s incredible. For me, for the fans, I just think it’s really important to reiterate and reassure the fans that Eddy and Adam are super excited even more so because there’s so much enthusiasm about creating this new world. I’m super excited to come back and play a different version. It’s the same team that just want it to be even better than it can be or has been and it’s been great to this point.
Was there something the OUAT bosses said to you that was key in you wanting to return?
For me, if I’m completely honest, I’ve always loved playing Captain Hook, also because I’ve gotten a chance to play so many different variations of him, so I haven’t just been playing the same guy day in, day out. I’ve gone all over, all through the gamut of emotions, and one minute I’m a villain, next minute I’m a hero, next I’m a buffoon, drunk, and I’ve been so lucky. Every episode is different, and I was just excited to see — I spoke to Eddy and Adam they talked me through roughly where they wanted Hook to go, and I was super excited about it, and I was even just more excited to see where the show was going to go. I love working on the show. I love getting the scripts because we know about as much as the fans know up until we read the script. That’s the great thing is that every time we get a script, you learn something new about your character and it’s just a great show to work on.
How is this curse different from what we’ve seen on the show before?
Obviously it’s different because it’s hit us in a real place, it’s set in Seattle, whereas the previous curse created a whole town and place for these characters to live, which was independent of the rest of the world, where they couldn’t leave. This curse, they’re actually in the real world and there’s no magic. It’s similar in the sense that they don’t remember who they are. That’s the main difference, for me.
Talk about the dynamic that Rogers has with Henry.
Their characters, I would say, are very similar in Hyperion Heights. They’re obviously different, but they’re both, at the minute, at a bit of a loss. They recognize the same needling thing in each other.
Hook and Rumple have had a long-standing feud. What does their dynamic look like this season?
This season, you’re going to see a completely different dynamic between Hook and Gold. They have to work together at points and figure out how that will able to work, I guess is the way that I can put it.
Is there anything that surprised you about the Hook-centric episode, in which Emma returns for an “emotional curtain call”?
Yeah, it’s going to be a big surprise to a lot of people, a lot of what happens in the episode. You’ll see Emma and Hook, and it’ll address them. There are other things that happen that are quite surprising that I didn’t suspect, but was very, very happy to partake in. I have to be honest, it’s an episode that I really, really, really, really don’t want people to be spoiled on, because one thing we learn is essential to this character’s make-up, but also who we see is such a huge, huge part of who he is in Hyperion Heights that I’m hoping that it doesn’t, in any way, get spoiled. I think that a show like this thrives on the surprise for the fans. There are certain things you just kind of go, “Wait until you see, and you’ll get much as a surprise when I did when I read it.”
Once Upon a Time returns Friday at 8 p.m. ET on ABC. Read our primer of the new season here, our full Q&A with executive producers Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis here, our interview with Lana Parrilla here, our interview with Andrew J. West here, our interview with Dania Ramirez here, our interview with Gabrielle Anwar here, our interview with Adelaide Kane here, our interview with Mekia Cox here, and our interview with Rose Reynolds here.
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