Once Upon a Time's Colin O'Donoghue Talks Hook's Secret (Will It Cost Him Emma?), Answers Some Burning Qs

Once Upon a Time Hook Emma SpoilersGo figure — Once Upon a Time‘s pirate captain has a skeleton (a Jolly Roger?) hiding in the closet, one that hints at a fishy past connection with the sea witch Ursula.

Thus far, Emma has given her beau a wide berth when it comes to disclosing this dark secret. But if and when it does come out, will Killian get the hook regardless? TVLine spoke with Colin O’Donoghue about this Sunday’s illuminating flashbacks (ABC, 8/7c) and the overall state of the “Captain Swan” romance, as well as lobbed some burning questions about living arrangements and, well, the Storybrooke economy.

TVLINE | Hook is being conspicuously and admittedly mum about his past with Ursula (played by Merrin Dungey) — is it for a good reason?
Yeah, you find out exactly went on in their past — and as most people have guessed, Hook doesn’t come out too well. He tries to help a young Ursula (The Following‘s Tiffany Boone) run away from her father Poseidon (Ghostbusters‘ Ernie Hudson), but as is always the case with ol’ Hook, he makes a couple of questionable decisions. It doesn’t necessarily go the right way. But in the present day, he’s trying to take a leaf out of Emma’s book, offering Ursula a chance at her happy ending in exchange for finding out what Gold’s real plan is.

TVLINE | It sounds like Hook is taking a more active role in assessing this new threat to Storybrooke.
The thing is, Hook genuinely cares for Emma (Jennifer Morrison), so he just wants to do whatever it takes to help protect her and the people she loves. He’s trying to be the best person he can be while at the same time struggling with the 300-year old pirate he used to be.

TVLINE | You talked about things going sideways for him in the flashback. On a scale of 1 to 1o, how dastardly is his pirate behavior?
I wouldn’t like to put a level on it, but it’s pretty much “not nice.” [Laughs]

TVLINE | Emma thus far has been quite understanding, letting Hook share his secret on his own time. COLIN O'DONOGHUE, JENNIFER MORRISONBut when all is said and done, is that a stance she’ll come to regret?
I think that Emma knows and understands who this Hook is, in present day. She knows that he deeply cares for her and wants to do whatever it takes to make this relationship work. Much in the the same way that Belle sees the best in Rumple, Emma tries to see the best in Hook — the only difference is that Hook is genuinely trying to do the right thing, to be the better person, whereas Gold just can’t do that. Gold just always, always has the Dark One inside him.

TVLINE | That said, and being as objective as you can be: Is Miss Swan perhaps a bit unwise to have finally opened her heart to a pirate?
Objectively…? [Pauses to think] No, not really. Not this pirate, because he opened himself up to her first, and he is very genuine in that. Look, he’s always going to probably at some point make a bit of a stupid decision or be guided by who he was in the past, but most of the time he’s trying to do right by Emma and by everybody. I think she can handle him.

TVLINE | Emma’s parents thus far have had the moral high ground, when sizing up Hook as a boyfriend for her. If Hook were to learn their dark secret, might that even the playing field a bit?
I think that he would care more for Emma and how that would effect Emma than try to use it as some kind of leverage — you know what I mean? Because at the end of the day, it’s more important for him to try and be mindful of Emma’s emotional state, trying to help her be as happy as possible.

TVLINE | Talk about OnceUponaTime_BelleHookplaying Rumplestitskin-as-Hook last week. Did you set out to bring a bit of Bobby Carlyle into it?
I actually did, but it’s difficult because you can’t obviously do an impersonation of another character — you have to do it within the confines of who your character is. But at points I tried to adopt little tiny movements that I’ve seen Bobby do. Or maybe strike a different cadence in the delivery of a line. Hopefully it worked!

TVLINE | Tell me, what are the living arrangements for Hook and Emma right now? Is she crashing with him..?
No, I think she’s still living with Mary Margaret and David; Hook is obviously crashing at Granny’s.

TVLINE | Paying what rent? And how does he make rent? Do we know? Is there any kind of an economy in Storybrooke??
I don’t know, but I don’t think Granny needs rent because she must make so much money from being the only place that people go to eat! [Laughs] Plus, I’m sure Hook has probably got a couple of doubloons tucked away somewhere.

TVLINE | Do you think Hook has eventual marriage on the mind?
Marriage? I don’t know, I think Storybrooke’s a difficult place to plan for the future, so he’s taking it one step at a time.

TVLINE | Right? No one ever gets a breather in this town.
Nope. No, no. If you want it to be smooth sailing, you don’t live in Storybrooke!

TVLINE | Do you have any questions? Anything you want to know about Hook?
Who ,me? No, not really. I’m pretty happy knowing who Hook is. And who he is is someone that’s great fun to play!

Want more scoop on Once, or for any other show? Email insideline@tvline.com and your question may be answered via Matt’s Inside Line.

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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98 Comments
  1. Eli says:

    Oh Matt!! How can you say Emma might be unwise opening up her heart to Killian? After he’s proven beyond any doubt that he genuinely cares for her? He not only sacrificed his home for her and patiently waited for her when she kept walking away from him, he helped her find home and embrace who she is. He is so good for her – just as she’s good for him. They bring out the best in each other.
    I loved Colin’s answers though. So insightful and full of heart.
    Thank you for the interview.

    • kelz says:

      I think he was just playing the other side of the coin on this one. He knows what a lot of people say (that are against the ship). I think this is his way of clearing the air or at least getting Colin’s opinion on it. He just asked IS she unwise… not “I think she’s unwise, what do you think”

  2. amy says:

    Thanks for the great interview Matt. I was curious about the rent too and living situations. I was tipped off last week by the way he said ‘gleamed’ he’s said it before in the same context but last week it was ‘off’.
    Looking forward to this weeks episode

  3. Cameron says:

    If Hook is trying to do “right by her” he would have been honest. But he chose not to be.

    • peach123 says:

      yeah, like as if he is the only person in storybrooke that is keeping secrets from her. Emma confronted him and he told her there was a secret. Meanwhile, Regina, emma, and david still lied to her face when she confronted them about the secret.

      • Len84 says:

        Agreed Peach – both Hook and her parents were operating under shame but whilst Hook holding back (which includes his self loathing) and said there is something that happened whilst her parents are lying outright and covering up at each turn and then letting Emma know – something which affects her directly because its about her and her choice and her identity.

    • Len84 says:

      He was holding back due to his past and being ashamed/guilty of what he done back then. Even Emma understood that and hence the lovely chat occurred at the end. And having faith and being the best.

    • There is a difference between “trying to do right” and being 100% perfect all the time. People make mistakes. He’s insecure about his past and about opening up to her at that level for fear of losing her. There would be no story arc, no character development if everyone did everything perfect all the time. It doesn’t mean he doesn’t love her and isn’t trying.

    • Lizzie says:

      I think she’s going to find out about it this week, so it’s not a huge deal. Emma said she could tell him in his own time.

    • Soccerfan says:

      He said and did the right thing at the Sheriff station. He admitted to remembering fully his history with Ursula and said it was ugly. Clearly, he’s embarrassed to tell Emma. And she’s giving him space and time to tell her. Sounds like a basis of a great relationship to me.

  4. Sarah says:

    Great interview! I’ve been wondering a few of those things for a while now. Can’t wait for this week’s episode and more Hook and Emma.

  5. Len84 says:

    Fantastic interview. Always love Colin and his answers – its exactly how I see Hook and his whole character and his past and his love for Emma.
    One of my fave male characters and romance of Emma/Hook.

  6. Bianca says:

    So Matt, what were the two questions that were the ones you really wanted to ask?

    Thanks for a great interview!

  7. Loved this interview, Matty! Great questions! And even better answers from one of the show’s most gifted and insightful actors! Love him!

  8. SJ says:

    Thank you for the interview! I love Hook and Colin!

  9. Kim says:

    Great interview Matt. But i do think Killian has shown more than once that Emma’s heart is safe in his hands! ;)

  10. Ray says:

    “Miss Swan” still makes me think of Alex Borstein’s outrageous little ol’ Chinese lady character from MadTV. Are we ever going to learn the origin of that name on OUAT?

  11. Kellie says:

    Thank you for this interview! Colin has such great insight into his character. I love that what drives Killian is his love for Emma. He puts it above his own needs and desires – her happiness is what matters most to him. And so happy to see that Emma has opened up her heart to him! 😍

  12. Ally says:

    Colin forgot that Hook tried to blackmail the darkone…but he’s changed so who cares. lol

    • Heather says:

      It was wrong yes, but he only blackmailed him at first to get Rumple to help them & Elsa find who had cast the freezing spell on Marian. He knew Rumple would never help them otherwise because Rumple only cares about himself. The second time was to get back his hand that Rumple cut off and kept as a trophy.

    • kelz says:

      It’s clear that these two characters are each other’s foils. Rumple/Gold/theDarkOne is NOT by any means an innocent character that Hook tried to blackmail. He had TWO things that Hook wanted (information and his own hand), and Hook knew he had to play a game with him in order to get both. Well, look where that got him. The information helped, but he was basically screwed the rest of the first half of the season because of the hand ordeal. I’d say he paid for his mistake. Even in the real world, people grow but still make mistakes. These characters are written to mirror real life challenges (but in a fantasy world).

  13. Lauren says:

    Hi Matt! Thank you to you and Colin for this wonderful interview. Hook is so good to Emma and his character and his backstory are in my opinion one that is taken for granted a lot of the time on the show. Colin is a fantastic actor who really understands his character and the scenes where he is Hook/Rumplestiltsken are some of my favorite! I’m really excited for this week’s episode because it would be nice to see more than Operation Mongoose! Regardless of what Hook has done, look how far he has come! I especially loved all the questions regarding Emma!! Thanks again!

  14. Kat says:

    Thank you so much for the interview, Matt! Colin always has such great answers, and he’s continually validating what most of us Hook/Emma & Hook fans see; he’s not perfect, he’s not trying to be. He makes mistakes, but he does so while trying to do best by the man he wishes to be, and by the woman he loves and the people he cares for. Thanks again!

  15. Heather says:

    Thank you for this. I love Colin’s replies and insight! I’m so excited for this episode and the rest of the season!

  16. Becks1521 says:

    Such a great interview. I love the amount of love that Colin has for Captain Swan. Colin brings so much soul to Hook and I always love his answers to questions. Especially the detail he goes into about his love for Emma. I’ve often wondered about his rent myself!

  17. Thank you SOOO much for this amazing interview!!! It satisfied SO much of my curiosity and really helped to get a lot more excited about the upcoming episodes. You’re great, Matt, thank you, thank you, thank you! I loved reading this so much.

  18. Jane says:

    Great interview!! The Rumple-as-Hook bit last week was cleverly done on Colin’s part. It surely was the certain way words were said, and the few different movements that tipped me off pretty quickly. It helps that I’m a huge fan of Captain Hook though. I then spent the rest of those scenes yelling at Belle for not noticing the difference, haha!

  19. Mel says:

    Great interview can’t wait to see what’s next for hook and Emma

  20. Mel says:

    Wow loved the interview can’t wait to see emma and hooks journey evolve! They are truly the most realistic and genuine couple! Great interview

  21. Kelly says:

    Colin, you most certainly did succeed in adopting Bobby’s mannerisms in such a chilling and amazing way! I am always in awe of this man’s acting choices and the insight he has on Hook’s character. So lovely. Matt, thanks so much for asking all of these amazing questions. It’s a great interview.

  22. sarah says:

    great interview! love hook

  23. Raams says:

    Colin gives great interviews! His answers were thoughtful and interesting. Can’t wait to see the episode!

  24. aurat22 says:

    Thank You Matt and Colin for giving us more insight into Killian Jones/Captain Hook.

  25. Nitya says:

    Thank you so much for this interview Matt! Loved the questions asked and loved Colin’s reply. My favorite being the one where he talks about that even after learning that Emma has potential for darkness, Killian’s first priority would be how it affects Emma and her happiness. And I also loved how you asked about how he prepared for that last episode where he played Rumple. His acting was the best part of the episode for me in 4×14. Normally when he plays Killian, there is lightness in him, especially around Emma. But the moment he came and sat next to Knave, you could feel something different about him. And I still can’t get over how creepy that scene w/ Belle in Gold’s shop felt. He was simply amazing. I can’t wait for Emma to get her own apartment and for Killian to move in with her. It would be a “finally!” moment for me :P

  26. Yui says:

    Thank you very much for the interview! Loved it!!! S2
    And Colin answers were perfect!

  27. Liza says:

    Awesome interview, Matt! Colin deftly answered everything brilliantly even though you really put Hook on trial there. But you got great answers from Colin so it’s all good. I really love how open he is about where Hook’s head is in regards to Emma, 100% genuine. Hook and Emma are the best part of this show.

  28. M says:

    Yet more proof that Hook is being whitewashed and retconned by the writers. He went from Dbag to woobie in a single episode. The guy was a functioning alcoholic who got women drunk to sleep with them, assaulted Belle numerous times, left Emma for dead, but he’s cool because he gave a barnacle covered boat for her. I’m sorry, but that’s not ‘forgive and shag’ material and I feel sorry that Colin has gone from saying he believes Hook is a sociopath to the party line that his MUCH more interesting evil character has become a good guy JUST because he fell in love with Milah 2.0 while climbing a giant phallic symbol. And “hero” Hook is as boring as watching paint dry and twice as useless to the plot and Emma. I think they are trying to “even the playing field” by making all of the characters jerks and idiots who are never held accountable for anything. The past DOES matter. I’m sick of this show going from how much it matters in S1-2 to saying it doesn’t mean diddly squat in S3-4. The number 180s OUAT has done on its messages is enough to make one’s head spin and explode from the inconsistency of it all!

    • Joey says:

      You’re either going to get no other replies or a bunch of replies telling you how wrong you are when you’re just so right on in your analysis.

      • kelz says:

        I’d just have to say I really enjoy watching the show, and his character, and I’ve been watching since 1×01. It’s unfortunate both of you no longer enjoy it, but nobody is forcing you to watch it either. It is fiction on TV, and you have the opportunity to change the channel – and show with your effect on the ratings how much you don’t like the way they’re handling/writing it. It’ll probably stress you out less, it gives everyone else a break on having to listen to hate, and you still can still affect the show by not watching/not participating in its ratings.

    • murley says:

      To be honest I can see your points and I think this perspective can be easily proven but to a certain extent you can choose to enjoy something or chose to hate it and pick it apart. I feel like a lot of people choose the latter and I don’t totally understand why. Television is entertainment. It is what I unwind with. Life is stressful and often negative and I personally don’t see the point in bringing more of that into my life. I used to listen to conservative radio to see what the other side was saying but it made me so mad that I had to stop. I realized I have to be careful because engaging in stuff that just pisses you off can make you bitter which is no fun.

    • Mer says:

      Excellent analysis indeed. I don’t particular care for the question of how her parents on her equal footing with Hook because they kept one little secret. I’m sorry, but the things Snow and Charming have done is nothing, absolutely nothing on the scale of the atrocities that Hook has committed. If Emma grew up with her father, she would have never even dated people liek Neal or Hook, sorry.

      A man that continiously never give Emma a full story is not a trustworthy man. Period. Again, we are probably never going to see Emma find out that Hook was willing to withhold information from the town to use for his own benefit (the hand). I love Colin as an actor and loved Hook as a character in season 2. But this blatant whitewashing is just too much. If they dealt with his wrong doing honestly, it would be more believable. This secret of Ursula is going to make Emma mad at him for 2 minutes and it gets resolved. Because it seems Hook is the only villain to not have any reprecussions for his actions. That is why he is the only villain(reforming or otherwise) that is not looking for the author because he has everything now, (Emma). He is content

  29. grisgumo says:

    Fantastic interview!!! it gave us a great insight on Hook’s character, no wonder why Colin makes an excellent and unique Hook, he knows his character and makes the best of it, and that Rumple/Hook acting was brilliant! can’t wait to see bad pirate Hook flashbacks this sunday! Thanks for the interview Matt & Colin!!!

  30. Thank you so much for this interview! And thank Colin for been so insightful and knowing his character so well. Captain Swan is seriously one of the best love stories I’ve ever had the pleasure to seeing develop in a TV show and Colin is an amazing actor and brings so much into the show in Killian Jones.

    We all appreciate these interviews so much, so again thank you and Colin for doing it!

  31. Lizzie says:

    Thanks for the great Interview! I love that Colin knows his character so well and has such great insight into him as well as the Captain Swan relationship. Can’t wait for this episode!

  32. Letti says:

    Colin seems to be a nice person. Too bad I hate Hook since he became soft in season 3. To be honest, he’s totally the most unnecessary main character right now. Now he’s only here to be Emma’s love interest, and unfortunately the interview suggests that it will stay that way. Well…let’s hope at least flashback Hook will be fun.

  33. thanks for the interview! Fantastic as always, appreciate Colin, his insight into his character and his amazing talent.

  34. Beka says:

    Great great interview!! I loved Colin’s answers. He really knows and understands his character so well. I love Hook and Emma and their relationship. They both are just so good for each other. Thank you so much again for this interview!!

  35. Dany says:

    Thank you very much for this interview, it’s great to know there are still professional people like you in this business, I was really not ok for what’s going on with the rigged thing from that other site, Thank you very much for this

  36. Katie Morrill says:

    I really enjoyed this interview! I like how the questions were on topic (the character of Hook) and how Matt was respectful of Colin!

  37. Rebecca says:

    I just lost any respect for Colin if he believes any of this crap about Hook. Hook’s just getting away with any/everything b/c he’s hot. Lying by not telling someone something is still lying, which Hook is ALWAYS doing. I used to think that Colin wouldn’t actually like playing a character like this, how could he? Hook’s so boring now. All he does is lie to Emma and bring her food. Sounds boring to me.

    • aurat22 says:

      Everyone is entitled to there opinion and I really shouldn’t say anything but I’m going to. It’s one thing to dislike a character and express it politely now and again. It’s another to cast negative aspersions on the real life actors and writers just because your unhappy with a fictional story. I don’t see anyone questioning why you like the characters you like, yet you feel you get to comment why others like a character? Yes Colin is handsome but many of us also think he is a good actor and enjoy his character on the show. As I said I get that you don’t like Hook, and you are again free not too but please don’t personally belittle those that do or insult real life people you don’t even know over a fictional series. I hope you will let this post be posted TV Line. I just get sick of the non stop bashing every time something is posted about Colin or his character.

    • abz says:

      Yeah, why wouldn’t he want to play a character that is beloved by many and on a widely popular show globally where he has gotten so much recognition from people who may not have been familiar with his work beforehand?
      He’s not lying to her here. He’s revealed to Emma that there is something in his past with Ursula that he is not yet ready to reveal to anyone and he’s clearly struggling with it. Did you not read what Colin was saying about how Hook still struggles with who he once was being an old pirate, much like Regina has being the Evil Queen, and even Rumple at times too? That is something Emma herself understands as she isn’t always forthcoming about things and she is willing to wait till he’s ready to tell her.
      You don’t have to like Hook, but you should try to accept that, like other characters on this show, he is still deeply flawed and working on himself. And if Hook’s so boring to you as you repeatedly keep saying on several posts, luckily for you, this being an ensemble show, there are several other characters on the show to love and enjoy.

  38. jenny says:

    Thanks for the interview, Matt! I’m glad I’m not the only one who has wondered about how Hook pays rent — and I loved Colin’s reply about Granny’s!

  39. Isabelle says:

    Thanks so much vor the interview!!!! :)

  40. Casey says:

    Thanks for the great interview Matt. I love to see how Killian’s character has evolved over the seasons and I hope this next episode will really highlight the contrast between who he was and who he is trying to be. I love that he isn’t perfect – and I suspect Emma does too. I like when Colin has an opportunity to flex his acting muscle and an episode like this should be great for that (as was the last one when he got to play Rumple!Hook).

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  42. Scarlet says:

    Thank you so much for this amazing interview!! It made my day #captainswan #captainhook

  43. Leigh says:

    Thank You for the interview! Very nice questions and answers. Emma is a lucky women!

  44. Christin says:

    Dude, I miss Hook’s RELAVANCE as a character. He only is there as Emma’s boy toy at this point in time. They had to sanitize him and water him down to even make Emma “fall” for him. He has no motivation outside of Emma. He has no life outside of Emma. He has no identity outside of Emma. I LOVED a complex, layered, embittered Hook because he was interesting. I resent the hell out of Killian Jones because he bores me and is nothing more than a sexy space holder.

    • CbinJ says:

      I think it is in Hook’s character to have little to no motivation, life, or identity outside of the one thing he is currently obsessed with–in this case Emma. Remember, this was a character who spent 200 plus years seeking revenge on one person. Even Hook’s past relationship with Ursula probably has something to do with getting his revenge on Rumple or self preservation so he could eventually get his revenge.

      That being said, I actually think Hook has become more complex as he has tried to move on from his revenge. I think this growth is shown most in the last 2 eps. of Season 2 and the Neverland arc. It was shown that he could have friendships with Bae/Neal (letting everyone know he was alive didn’t make his life any easier) and Tinkerbell (briefly). He saved David from the dreamshade; and even though he claimed he did that for Emma–it was implied that he also didn’t want to see what happened to his brother happen to Charming b/c he saw some of Liam in Charming.

      The episode Good Form presented Hook’s transformation from an idealistic youth to cynical pirate. We know after that he became a man obsessed with revenge, then love. I think now it is possible for complexity to be explored as those four elements come to head in a season half that is supposed investigate “what makes a hero and what makes a villain”. How will Hook balance his cynicism, lust for revenge, his puppy love (or, now, maturing romantic relationship), and a possibly renewed sense of idealism that comes with the hope that he can change?

      You said, “I love a complex, layered, and embittered Hook because he was interesting.” I actually didn’t like the backstabbing, sleazy, and obnoxious Hook we first met in Season 2 because I found the character shallow. Truly, in stories and in life, sacrificial love and the road to redemption are more complex than revenge and bitterness because the former are more difficult. And there is reason to want Hook and all the reforming villains to have long arcs of redemption before they are forgiven because of the potential for complexity in the story Once tells.

      (I probably put more thought into this show and the implications of it than the writers do sometimes. I’m a writer myself, though, so it comes second nature to me.)

  45. Christin says:

    Dude, I miss Hook’s RELAVANCE as a character. He only is there as Emma’s boy toy at this point in time. They had to sanitize him and water him down to even make Emma “fall” for him. He has no motivation outside of Emma. He has no life outside of Emma. He has no identity outside of Emma. I LOVED a complex, layered, embittered Hook because he was interesting. I resent the hell out of Killian Jones because he bores me and is nothing more than a sexy space holder. His relationship ruined his character for me.

    • Allie says:

      Things may get better. You just need to have hope.
      ~Mary Margaret Blanchard
      I believe that Killian and Emma will eventually become a true, meaningful couple, but also pursue to be adventurous and dangerous. Once Upon a Time has changed my life so much, I could never admit to myself that it is becoming boring.

  46. Brenna says:

    Great interview!! Love me some hook/captain swan articles :) Colin seems like a really great guy and I loved his answers. So full of heart!

  47. Melinda says:

    Thanks so much for the great interview, Matt! Also, many, many thanks to Colin for the wonderful, insightful answers!!!

  48. Danielle says:

    Thank you so much for such a lovely interview! It definitely put a smile on this Oncer’s & Captain Swan’s fans face!

  49. kelz says:

    Thanks for the interview; you asked some great questions Matt! I really love reading about Colin’s insight into his character. There are ships and ship wars on this show, but at the end of the day these are all characters. It’s amazing to watch them on screen and then get to read about insight on the character from the person playing them. Of course, Hook is one of my favorites!

    Nobody is perfect, everyone makes mistakes. Some people try to be better but we all slip along the way.

  50. Maggie says:

    Thank you Matt! Great interview and it’s always great to read Colin’s answers. I’m even more excited for what’s coming!