EXCLUSIVE: Actor Colin O'Donoghue on why Hook isn't 'necessarily evil' on Once Upon a Time

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May 10, 2014, 10:29 AM EDT (Updated)

When the writers of Once Upon a Time decided to tackle the iconic character of Captain Hook in season two, fans couldn't have imagined the Hook we'd actually end up with. In fact, Irish actor Colin O'Donoghue didn't even think he was right for the part, said the actor in an exclusive interview with Blastr.

“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,” said O'Donoghue. “[Creators] Eddie [Kitsis] and Adam [Horowitz] wanted to go for a slightly younger Captain Hook. I thought it would be 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,” said O'Donoghue.

While we might not exactly feel bad for liking him, considering the Hook and Emma romance that's sprung up, he certainly has evolved from the villain we've known in the past. Expect his evolution to continue as Once Upon a Time premieres its two-hour season-three finale on Sunday, May 11, at 8 p.m. ET.

“He is different than any other Hook,” he said. “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 a thing that 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.”

That doesn't mean that things haven't been complicated, first in his quest to get revenge against Rumpelstiltskin, in Neverland in the battle with Peter Pan, and, most recently, against the Wicked Witch. Hook recently even fell prey to an evil plan through which his lips were enchanted and he had instructions to kiss Emma -– a kiss that would strip her of her powers.

“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,” said O'Donogue.

“You saw in episode four of season two when he first comes in, he falls in love with Rumpelstiltskin's wife. She chooses to leave Rumpelstiltskin to go 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,” he said.

“Hook definitely has feelings for Emma,” he said. “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 said. That is if he can keep Emma from going back to New York City with Henry.

While it might all seem like fun, playing an iconic, reimagined villain and swashbuckling his way on a pirate ship through the various adventures on Once Upon a Time has had its challenges.

Specifically, 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 to play 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. You get to play the full gamut, really,” he said.

O'Donoghue credits Kitsis and Horowitz for taking Captain Hook and all the characters on Once Upon a Time far beyond their literary incarnations. “It's something that they do really well, take these stories that we all know and have grown up with and put a slant on them or a 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 said.

“That's a difficult thing to do with so many beloved characters, to try and give people a new vision of what these characters 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,” said O'Donoghue. Or the Wicked Witch and Captain Hook, for that matter.

As for his Hook, O'Donoghue has hopes for him. “I hope that he finds love or the ability to let go a little bit. I also hope he doesn't lose a little bit of his roguishness. It's kind of what makes him Hook,” he said.

Here's a look at Sunday's two-hour finale:

What do you think of O'Donoghue's Captain Hook?

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