Once Upon a Time Dark Hook

Once Upon a Time: Colin O'Donoghue Weighs In on Dark Hook's 'Maniacal' Mission, Playing a 'Polarizing' Pirate

Once Upon a Time‘s newly minted Dark One is on a mission — and he’s enlisted a boatload of shady friends to help him.

Infused with the Darkness against his will, as the result of Emma’s desperate bid to save his life, Captain Hook is none too happy, save for relishing the savory prospect of using his new powers to avenge long-ago love Milah once and for all, by vanquishing Rumplestiltskin. To that end, after having lost Round 2 to the “Crocodile,” Hook tapped into a Storybrooke portal allowing access to the Underworld, whence came Nimue and alllll the Dark Ones in between.

With Season 5’s fall finale unfurling this Sunday (ABC, 8/7c), TVLine spoke with Colin O’Donoghue about Hook’s walk on this very dark side, his plan to destroy the world and the “good thing” about playing a polarizing pirate.

TVLINE | How far in advance of the Dark Hook reveal did you learn it was coming?
It was probably two or three weeks, if I recall, when [series creators] Eddy [Kitsis] and Adam [Horowitz] said, “This is what’s going to happen….” I was delighted to be able to explore that side of Hook again, as a dark, villainous character — only this time he’s amplified by a thousand, you know?

TVLINE | What went into developing the Dark Hook persona? Did you bounce any ideas off of Jen [Morrison], who’s been doing things a bit differently as Dark Emma?
I obviously spoke to Eddy and Adam about how they saw Dark Hook being. They were like, “We want him to be like the older Hook,” who had already embraced darkness — not the Darkness, but darkness — so I took that and ran with it and wanted him to basically be maniacal. He’s sort of an unstoppable force who has no empathy or feeling for anybody except himself. That was the starting point, and then playing off that you sort of have fun and enjoy it.

TVLINE | I was going to say, once-hook-mocks-rumpleit definitely looks like you’re having a ball, especially in that scene with Bobby Carlyle — “Get your affairs in order, Dearie!”
I read that line and I thought that’s actually one of the first things Rumple as the Dark One says to Hook — “Get your affairs in order,” or something. But whatever way he delivered it, I thought it would be a fantastic way of jabbing a non-Dark One Rumplestiltskin, by pretending to be him. And it was fun, it was fun.

TVLINE | I know this was touched on on the show, but why in your mind is Dark Hook different from Dark Emma?
Dark Hook is different because he’d already tasted darkness, he’d already given in to a part of it, whereas Emma was coming from the place of being the Savior and essentially always saving the day. That’s why she as a Dark One — and I’m not wanting to speak for Jen — comes from a place of struggling against the Darkness, at the start.

TVLINE | Emma’s trying to keep her ish together whereas Hook is more susceptible.
Yes, yes. You saw that when she had Rumple in her head in Camelot — she really was trying to fight it, whereas Hook tried to fight it for all of two seconds until [Rumple’s apparition] says, “I can help you get your revenge on me.” And because Hook has already lived with that for hundreds of years, the Darkness had him. Hook says that just before Emma turns him into the Dark One: “Let me die. I don’t have the willpower to fight this and I don’t want to become the one thing that I hate.”

Watch a sneek peek from Once Upon a Time‘s midseason finale:

TVLINE | Is there any talking sense into him? Will Emma continue to try?
It’s difficult. Because he has embraced the Darkness — not intentionally but because that’s who he is now — he has one overriding mission and that is to kill Rumplestiltskin, and he is willing to let the Darkness use him as a pawn and bring back all the other Dark Ones to do that, if it means he can send Rumple to the Underworld — and whoever else he’s willing to sacrifice. Much in the way that the Rumple character, when he was the Dark One, was willing to sacrifice all the people he loved to get whatever he wanted for himself.

TVLINE | To be clear: Hook’s end game is to get revenge on Rumple one way or another, be it death or banishment to the Underworld. But the Dark Ones that just arrived on the boat, their end game is to “snuff out the light”?
That’s part of Hook’s end game too, because he is the Darkness, they all exist as one in whoever is the conduit. When we see Nimue talking to Merlin in the last episode, she appears to Merlin but she’s still a part of Hook. Now, bringing [the Dark Ones] back from the Underworld, they exist as separate entities but their overriding mission is to snuff out the light. Hook is willing to do that as well — and if he gets his revenge, that’s an added bonus!

TVLINE | So, we’re getting some flashbacks in Sunday’s midseason finale?
We are. You get to see a bit of Hook’s relationship with his father (played by EastEnders‘ Adam Croasdell), which I was really excited to explore. That time was a huge part of what made Killian Jones become who he was.

TVLINE | Those flashbacks are with a kid, though, right? Not you?
There is some with a kid (played by Salem‘s Oliver Bell), but you also get to see a little bit of older Killian Jones, played by me, interacting with “Papa Hook,” as the fans are calling him.

Once Upon a TimeTVLINE | Besides Emma and Rumple, is Dark Hook going to get in anyone’s else’s face? Does he have words with Emma’s father David, perhaps..?
I mean, he kind of gets in everybody’s face a little bit! [Laughs] Eventually he’s trying to destroy the world, so….

TVLINE | Is it safe to say things will get worse for him and Emma before they get any better?
You’ll have to wait and see. You might get an answer to that on Sunday.

TVLINE | We just took stock of TV’s Most Polarizing Characters and Hook is on the list, stirring emotions as he does one way or the other — which I’m sure is not news to you. How does it feel to play someone people either love or… don’t really like much at all?
I understand that and you know what? It’s brilliant, it’s a great thing, because that means you’re doing your job well. Especially for this character, because Hook has done some really heinous things in his past. Even when I came on the show in Season 2, he was not that nice a guy, so I actually expected everybody to dislike Hook. But weirdly, a lot of people really like that in a person for some reason. [Laughs] It’s an interesting thing because I always knew he would be that person who would polarize people, and I guess that’s a good thing for me as an actor. But if I was speaking as Hook, I’d be a bit annoyed, like, “Why doesn’t everyone like me!”

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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39 Comments
  1. Linda says:

    Great interview Matt and Colin. I’m excited about the midwinter finale. This has been a compelling season so far. I can understand Hook’s anger about being turned into the thing he hated most but like Colin said in another interview I glad Emma did so we get to keep him on the show. I am definitely in Hook’s camp. If the other villains deserve redemption, so does he.

  2. Ann J says:

    Great interview! I love Hook he is a great character with many layers. The Good and the bad, and Colin plays bad really well. The reason people hate Hook is that he is the love interest of Emma.

  3. Vari says:

    Thanks Matt for the interview always great to hear from Colin.

    I am still hoping Hook chooses Love and he has a plan.

  4. Tamara says:

    Thank you for the interview. It’s really interesting to hear Colin’s thoughts on this arc, and I can’t wait to see how it all plays out on Sunday. I know Hook gets a fair amount of hatred – though that’s true of pretty much any character on this show – but, personally, I’ve really loved his redemption arc over the past three years, and this seems like it’ll be an interesting next step in his transition from villain to hero.

  5. buttercupscarlett95 says:

    I love Killian and Captain Swan, but I hope they fix this soon. I don’t like them turning him into a villain. He needs to be the hero of this story, since he’s the one who fought the Dark One the longest. I know a lot of people believe he has a secret plan to defeat the darkness and save Emma. I hope they’re right. Otherwise, it sucks what they’re doing to his character.

  6. liz says:

    Thanks guys. More party line spin. I’m still expecting a twist. Expecting one more than ever!

  7. LADY_in_MD says:

    This article has been up for an hour and not one SQ shipper has called him a rapist? I’m shocked! Maybe they are all still sleeping??

  8. Audrey says:

    Thank you for the interview! I love OUAT and Hook’s character. Dark Hook plot is super interesting, but I hope it won’t last too much because I already miss Captain Swan as a couple.
    I’m worried for next week episode, I don’t want Hook to be the character of the Blind Item.

  9. Denny says:

    Great interview. Colin is always in point and he seems genuinely happy about this twist.
    Hope it’s not gonna destroy Hook completely when the Darkness will be defeated.

  10. Lisa says:

    Hook is the reason I am still watching this show, and his relationship with Emma.Colin is fantastic!

  11. abz says:

    One of my favourite characters on the show. Love seeing Dark Hook, but I also like seeing Hook with Emma. Colin does such a great job playing him. They better not get rid of him,

  12. JC says:

    I’m very disappointed with the direction this show has taken with Hook and Emma. I don’t see much of a reason to watch anymore. They’ve really ruined the pairing.

  13. Kali says:

    Great interview! Thank you very much for that, Matt!
    I’m one of those people who absolutely love Killian Jones. To bits and pieces. He’s just an amazing character.
    So while I get what Colin’s saying, I just can’t believe that the same writers who knew from episode one of S5 that Killian was already a dark one (by the end of that episode in Storybrooke) and who had him – and no one else – be the person who can quiet the demons in Emma’s head, who believes in her more than her own mother (as when he convinced Snow that it had to be Emma’s decision nor to crush Merida’s heart) and who very much functioned as Emma’s guidung light in her battle against darkness, that those same writers would have him fall into darkness so completely and so quickly without there being a bigger picture that we can’t see yet. I know that Killian said that he wouldn’t be able to fight the darkness because he’s not as strong as Emma but I just can’t believe that the man we’ve come to know and trust over several seasons would give in to darkness so completely and so quickly. There were many moments in “Broken Heart” that felt like they could support this idea. Why not kill Rumple if that’s what he was really after? I found it incredibly hard to believe that Rumple – who just learned to handle a sword and has been relying on his magic for so long – could so easily best Killian – a fierce pirate captain who’s been in countless sword fights. And why on earth would he leave the one weapon that can kill him with his arch enemy when he poofed away. Just doesn’t make any sense. Killian never ever ran from a fight and now he just poofed away Excalibur-less? It just seems iffy. As does the fact that Merlin had already prepared a dark curse. Something’s going on. At least I hope so.
    I do have faith in Killian and hope that the writers know exactly what they’re doing. I cannot see any scenario where it makes sense for all this amazing character development of Killian Jones and the epic love story between Emma and Killian to have been for neigh.
    Maybe the explanation we will get in the winter finale will also explain why Killian only became dark once he remembered he was a dark one and not before – long after Emma tethered his soul to Excalibur.
    I’m just hopeful that we’ll get an explanation for what we saw in “Broken Heart” that is true to the character of Killian Jones and to the show that has been preaching noting as loudly as the message of hope and love always prevailing.

    • Schnauzer Pants says:

      I get the points you made and most are good, except for the one about Rumple sword fighting. If you look back, he sword fought with various characters multiple times in the past.

  14. Shannon says:

    Thanks for the interview!

  15. Carrie says:

    I find it very surprising that Hook is listed as a “polarizing” character. Everyone I’ve ever met who watches the show loves the guy. Then again I don’t think that the online fanbase (which I assume is where this thought comes from) is usually an accurate representation of the fanbase as a whole…

  16. Mary says:

    “Don’t really like much at all?” That’s a huge understatement. Hook has been a poorly written character since his introduction. But then, the whole show is poorly written.

    • michelle says:

      if you don’t like it don’t watch it. the show is not poorly written and i think hook is the best one on the show.

      • Rebecca says:

        “if you don’t like it don’t watch it.” I always find this hilarious. Because…. This show’s ratings are already crap…. You’re basically encouraging people to cause this show to get worse in ratings. Which would be doing all these actors a favor. Getting them off this crap show and on to better work.

  17. Chad says:

    Because what this show needs is more Hook.

  18. grisgumo says:

    We (the fans) have to get our affairs in order for this week’s episode, great interview and so excited to see what the “trick” Hook is planning is about. Colin is doing a fantastic job whether he’s playing redeemed Hook, season 2 Hook, or this bad ass Dark One Hook. Can’t wait for what’s coming!!

  19. Emma Swan says:

    Omg! I just love Once Upon A Time! I can’t wait to see the new episode of once upon a time!🤗😝😍😜 I’m hungry for Once Upon A Time!

  20. SJ says:

    Its odd to me that Hook’s central motive for revenge is on Rumple for something that seems so distant not just in the show’s timeline since season 2, but in the history which spans for hundreds of years. Certainly, Hooks motive would make more sense if it was more current — ie – toward Emma for turning him into a dark one in the first place, stealing his memories, etc.

    • Vari says:

      The darkness has pricked at his lust for revenge… those darknest part of him which he was in centuries. Also it is a connection to the dark one since that was what started it as well. Lets see if he has a plan or not.

  21. ninergrl6 says:

    Fantastic interview! The Dark Hook twist is so compelling thanks in large part to Colin’s impeccable acting. It’s obvious that he relishes portraying the over-the-top evil side of his character, especially after a few seasons of transitioning more to the hero side. As much as I love the Caotain Swan romance, watching “maniacal” Hook is very entertaining (and heartbreaking at tre same time). Can’t wait for the next ep!

  22. Bahra says:

    Colin O’Donoghue is a brilliant actor and portrays Hook to the extent. I wish this show could air every night. I love him in whatever state of mind the writers lead him in. However, I would much prefer him to love Emma as he did before. I look forward to their romantc relationship again. The saddest thing I’ve seen yet between the two of them, was when he told Emma that she would always be an orphan. You could see the hurt inside her, and it broke my heart as well. I was shocked that Killian could ever be so cruel to Emma. I am really looking forward and ready for all of this to end, and us get back to the romance that we know in our fairytales. What happened to the hope and the love that Snow speak so often of. I miss our sweet timid Killian. Although Hook is very sexy… Killian is adorable.

  23. Bahra says:

    I don’t understand you guys who get on here and dog this show. Although there are times that I get really angry because the writers have not written it in the direction that I would like, doesn’t give me the right to criticize their ideas. This is their show, their money, their hard work and time away from their families to entertain us. They have the right to write it anyway they see fit and what they think works best to draw in the viewers. I have been on sets and watched the dedication and long hours these actors devote to this profession. Kudos to the writers and the actors . As for myself, I do not watch shows that annoy me. If you do not like the show, simply do not watch it, because those of us who do love it, are not interested in your slurred remarks.

  24. Chris says:

    Emma was always afraid of her loved ones dying. Why wouldn’t she make Hook immortal the first chance she got?

  25. Caraboss says:

    Santo dio… E’ un attore canne. Ed è colpa della CS se questa serie è andata a puttane Ricordatevelo. Vi rendete conto che gli autori se ne sbattono della trama e buttano idee per colpa di questa coppia o siete ciechi? Cazzo non prendiamoci per i fondelli, è Once upon a CS