Once Upon a Time's Michael Raymond-James: Neal and Emma Have 'Unfinished Business'
This Sunday on Once Upon a Time (ABC, 8/7c), Emma’s determination to get the goods on bad Tamara will tee up a much-need talk between her and Neal, the father of her son Henry and the great love she lost under, well, extraordinary circumstances. Michael Raymond-James spoke with TVLine about Season 2′s penultimate hour, which will feature hearts on sleeves and change the course of at least one part of Neal’s life.
TVLINE | Emma been trying to convince Neal that Tamara is bad news. What new evidence might she trot out this week?
You know Emma, man. She gets on a case and she goes after it pretty fiercely. She definitely feels that Tamara has got some evil intentions, and she is going to try to convince me that she may have had something to do with Regina being kidnapped.
TVLINE | Whether he was protecting Emma’s destiny or not, do you think that Neal still harbors some guilt about what happened all those years ago?
I am glad you asked that. Yes. I think he does, but Neal feels that he really didn’t have a choice in the mater. It was a matter of her fulfilling her destiny and for the greater good. I mean, we’re talking about her saving a town full of people that I grew up with, people from Fairytale Land, so these aren’t total strangers where I can be like, “Screw them. This is about me and my love.” So, in Neal’s mind he was sort of jumping on the grenade for the greater good. But of course there’s guilt. Of course there’s pain for having inflicted pain on someone you care about. I don’t know how you get beyond that.
TVLINE | [Series creators] Eddy [Kitsis] and Adam [Horowitz] told us that in addition to whatever Emma might still feel for Neal, Neal probably still feels something for Emma. Is he going to start to cop that?
You’re going to see some of that this week, a broaching of that subject is definitely going to come. We’re beginning to scratch the surface on that and at least acknowledge some of the unfinished business that’s been hanging over our heads since we first saw each other again.
TVLINE | ‘Cause I am just telling you, man — if it was me? I’d carry a torch for Jennifer Morrison for some time.
[Laughs] She is the best. One of the great things about this show is the cast. Morrison and I have become really, really great buddies, so it’s so much fun going to work. If I’m having a bad day, she knows how to make that better and vice versa. We sort of developed a shorthand between each other as people in terms of getting through the days together. I couldn’t have asked for a better situation to fall into.
TVLINE | We saw Tamara eavesdropping when Neal and August reconnected in New York City, but are we ever going to connect any dots on why exactly she decided to latch on to you?
That’s a good question. The thing with this show, aside from it being an incredibly difficult to talk about, is that we, audience members and actors alike, need to be able to trust that the future will further define the meaning of the present. There are times that you just have to go with it and you know that the people in charge of the show are smart people and they’re aware of where they’re leaving things, and it’s all by design. Further on down the road we’ll have more explanation, so when you go back and look at it again, it will tie together.
TVLINE | Let’s talk about the blanks we know will be filled in this week. What can you say about the flashbacks for Young Bae, hanging with Wendy Darling in Victorian London?
I can say that you want to stay tuned for them because it’s going to be awesome.
TVLINE | We’ll find out how it is that he knew Hook previously?
That could be something we find out, yeah….
TVLINE | There’s a “really big” twist coming up this week involving Rumple and Neal. What can you say about it? Is it going to be emotional gut-punch?
At PaleyFest, Bobby [Carlyle] called it a “game-changer,” and I think that this will certainly change the course of the path that they had previously entered on.
TVLINE | Is it more shocking, or more sad? Or a bit of both?
Bob Dylan had a great quote one time about people asking, “Do you think any of these kids who come to your shows and listen to the words you’re saying have any idea what you’re actual message is?” He said, “Listen, man, I just go out there and sing, I don’t try to get anybody to listen.” I think that however people receive [the twist], whether it’s shocking or a gut-punch, is up to them. We just go out there and try to tell a story as best we can.
TVLINE | Going from something so grounded, real and gritty as Terriers to this, was that sort of by design, or do you just go where the work is?
I always choose jobs based on material, and when I first met with Adam and Eddy and they discussed what this show was and what they wanted to do with the character, their enthusiasm is incredibly infectious. It is sort of a departure for me — even from fantasy shows that I have done before, like True Blood, which is much darker –but I was so interested in the stories that they were telling that I wanted to jump on board. I try to stay grounded whether I’m talking about stealing somebody’s wallet in Terriers or if I’m talking about magic in Storybrooke!