Once Upon A Time’s Sean Maguire talks Robin Hood, working with Lana Parrilla, the season four premiere, archery, (#)Outlaw Queen, GQ, extraordinary fans and much much more!
Prutha S. Patel: Hi! How are you?
Sean Maguire: I’m very good, thank you. How are you?
PSP: I’m great! It’s a lovely morning in LA.
SM: It is! I’m all yours so fire away!
PSP: Great! Did you have fun at the premiere?
SM: Yes, yes, I did. I had a lot of fun at the premiere, we really enjoyed ourselves. It was a great night out and it’s so lovely to see the fans. I don’t think any of us were quite expecting it to be such a big turnout, it was really very nice. And it’s just a lovely feeling to have, that you’re involved in something that so many people enjoy.
PSP: I bet! So to go a bit backwards, you took over the role of Robin Hood on Once Upon A Time from Tom Ellis (USA’s Rush), did you and Tom discuss the character or have any interactions before coming on to the show?
SM: No, no. Actually Tom and I have never actually spoken, we know some mutual people I understand but no…we didn’t discuss it. Nor would I, I am very respectful of Tom as an actor and he’s terrific but to be absolutely honest I’ve only seen very briefly what he did on the show.
PSP: Oh wow. How interesting.
SM: I kind of made the decision that if they hired me to do what I was going to do then they liked what I did in the audition therefore I’d do it that way. I mean obviously Tom did his own thing, and when the decision to change was made it was made because Tom was under contract for another show, it wasn’t because he wasn’t brilliant, because he absolutely was but…I just wanted to make my own version of him. And I wanted to make it my own. You know what I mean?
SM: It would never really feel like it was mine.
PSP: So then did you do any research before taking on the role?
SM: I did actually, yeah. I just read up a bunch on the history of Robin Hood or the legacy, whichever you would like to call it. But again, you know, the bottom line is that people don’t really know if he was bona fide, 100%, a real guy, a lot of factors suggest that he was…other factors suggest that it was a legend that kind of just grew and grew. The thing is that all of those factors are important if you’re doing a biopic for say Woodrow Wilson, but if you’re trying to play a guy around the 12th or 14th century then you don’t really know certain things. What’s important is trying to bring to life a character that the writers have written up as opposed to what the historical conceptions are. It’s not the Kevin Costner Robin Hood, nor is it the Russell Crowe Robin Hood…it’s just Adam and Eddy’s…as well as the writers of OUAT’s Robin Hood.
PSP: Right, right. That makes sense.
SM: Yeah, I took it very importantly to play what the writers of this show wrote and how they see him. So…here on Once, as a father and a leader.
PSP: I like that you mentioned a sort of isolated approach, in that you didn’t want to touch too much on the work of the other actors who have played this iconic character…but chose to focus just on what Adam and Eddy thought up.
SM: Yeah. See, their version is their version. The film versions are entirely different stories and in fact, I just found out that on another film that I worked on called Songs for Amy, another actor, named Patrick Bergin, also played Robin Hood. And I think it might be the first cinematic father and son to both play Robin Hood.
PSP: That’s so great!
SM: Yes! It’s kind of strangely coincidental.
PSP: It is! When you first joined the show, what were some of your first thoughts about it?
SM: To be absolutely honest, I have been a working actor since I was five and so I approached it pretty much just as I approach every job. Turn up on time, know your lines, hit your mark, and try not to get in the way. I didn’t realize, well I mean I did know that this show was pretty big. My mum’s a huge huge fan of it back in the UK and I had met Adam in season one, so I was aware that it was a big show. I was aware of the cast that was on it but as I said, I had approached it like my other jobs, with professionalism and discipline and I then enjoyed it. And then it also sort of shook up my world a little bit. I’ve never really been on a show where the fans are as invested and as passionate and I think more so than any other project I’ve done in my life. So that…it obviously makes a great big difference.
PSP: Yes, absolutely. You mentioned that your mother watches the show; does she happen to have a favorite character?
SM: You know, I actually don’t know. I’ve never actually asked her. I do remember that before I was actually on the show, I was back in the UK and I was staying at my folks house and it came on the TV and my mum said, “Have you seen this? It’s first class; it’s my new favorite show.” And I remember going, “Ohhh, great, yeah. I haven’t really watched it, mum, but I potentially had an opportunity to maybe be on it and I chose the wrong show and that ended up being a big hit and now it’s kind of just a thorn in my side, so that’s great that you love it mum.” But it’s fine because six months later I was then on the show and the timing worked out. The thing is though that the show hasn’t been on recently, because Channel 5 took it off the air and just now have recently put it back on now.
PSP: I heard about that! Glad they picked it up again.
SM: Yeah, my mum hasn’t seen season three yet.
PSP: Oh no!
SM: Yeah, she hasn’t seen me on the show yet. So I’m excited for her to see it. She says, “I don’t want to watch it on the computer, I don’t want to watch it yet. I want to watch it on proper telly so I can see it properly.” And I said, “Alright, that’s perfect.”
PSP: That is so great! That’s proper support right there. I’m going to start clapping right now.
SM: Thank you. Absolutely.
PSP: Since you’ve now been on the show for a while now, what are your thoughts on the fans themselves?
SM: I think they’re extraordinary. I mean, I genuinely feel a great sense of gratitude and love towards them because you know; having taken on this iconic role from another actor there was inevitably going to be some backlash. Things like, “Oh you’re not as good as the other guy,” but whatever it was that I expected turned out to be different. The fans have been so sweet to me. If you’re going to have lots and lots of people saying nice things, you’re inevitably going to get a few people saying some not nice things. But, I find the negatives are very easy to ignore and the positive side of it is that they are always very supportive. And yeah, I genuinely feel a real sense of gratitude and love for them all. They’ve really been wonderful!
PSP: About the fans, I have a feeling that there is going to be an upcoming mini-Twitter campaign to get you in contact with GQ. I just feel like that’s going to happen and I’ll be hashtagging away right with them. [#SeanMaguireForGQ]
SM: Oh, that is very very flattering. Very kind, I’d be very honored to don the pages of GQ.
PSP: We’ll work on it, we’ll work on it. How about the (#)OutlawQueen supporters specifically? Many of them have been tweeting in inquiring about the ship’s outlook, especially since Robin Hood has chosen to uphold his vows to Marian.
SM: Yeah. Well, obviously it’s very tricky to talk about the future of the show. I’m sworn to secrecy but it’s like life…it’s always morphing and ever changing. It’s very very interesting.
PSP: As always. What is your favorite part about working with Lana Parrilla?
SM: Lots and lots of things. She’s very fun to be on a set with and if you have to spend fifteen hours a day with someone, you really pray that they’re going to be fun, that they’re going to be interesting conversationalists, and that they’re going to be professional and just good in general. And basically, Lana is all of those things and a lot more. We’ve really developed a real pull with each other and professionally, she’s one of the beast scene partners I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with. Lana really really brings her A-game, she spends a lot of time doing her research and has a really methodical way of approaching Regina, so it forces you as an actor to also bring your A-game. You don’t just learn your lines and go, I come ready to work when it’s…well, I come that way anyway…but with Lana she pushes an extra 10, 15, 20 takes out of you. It’s like who can play better and she’s such a great actress, I think she’s forcing me to raise my game.
PSP: That’s really really cool to hear. A lot of fans have also been asking whether Robin will ever sing for Regina on OUAT, do you think that’s possible at some point? Would you be willing to do it if they decided to add it into the script somehow?
SM: I’m willing to do whatever our fellas want me to do. It’s Adam and Eddy’s show, my job is serve up their version of Robin Hood. So, if they want me to sing, I’ll sing…if they want me to not, then I won’t. I’m not the best singer in the world and I don’t know if I’d feel overly confident in front of millions and millions of people but if that’s what they have in store for it, then I’m happy to be a company man and do what’s asked of me.
PSP: So, it’s still an open door?
SM: Yeah, there have been lots of questions from fans on whether there will be a musical episode and the honest answer is I really don’t know. I don’t know if that’d be the kind of the show the writers are going for, but there are a lot of musically talented people on the show so that could be something possible down the line.
PSP: Many have also been asking about a Robin Hood backstory episode. Do you think that’s a possibility?
SM: It’s always a possibility I think, after a character has been on the show for a certain amount of time they do normally delve into the background stories…but again, I don’t actually know how much I can say about that.
PSP: No problem, it’s a good point though. What is one aspect of Robin’s character that you would like further explored in any episode?
SM: As an actor you always want to be challenged and so far what we’ve seen of Robin is that he’s a very decent man with a strong moral compass. So, to play a good guy all the time is a lot of fun, but obviously to explore someone’s alternative or darker side would be an interesting thing as an actor as well. And I think that would be interesting, to explore the not so virtuous side of him. So that’s something that intrigues me.
PSP: If you could give Robin any piece of advice, what would it be?
SM: Ohhhh, gosh. Oh gosh, I don’t know. There are lots of things I could say but I dunno… that’s a really tough question. Maybe, just live in the moment?
PSP: That’s a great one!
SM: That might not be the best advice but that’s what I try to do, so that would be it.
PSP: I think it surely is, because Robin had such a complicated decision to make and as a fan, telling Robin to live in the moment is sound advice in my opinion. Speaking of living in the moment, had Regina gone into the bar when she saw Robin’s tattoo earlier in the series, do you think things would have still been as complicated as they are now for Robin or would you agree that life just has a funny way of happening the way it wants to happen?
SM: Honestly, I think exactly that. Life has its moments and sometimes things happen in life and you don’t really know why and you might be upset about how they’ve transpired but later down the line you realize that it was always intended to be that way and it might be better that way but also, sometimes not. I don’t tend to look at missed opportunities or when things didn’t work out because you’ll find out later that had that not happened then, for example, had I taken certain jobs then I never would have met my wife…things like that. I tend to let fate do its thing and try and be the best guy I can in the moment and let the chips fall where they may.
PSP: Michael Socha is joining the OUAT cast, are you excited to work with him again?
SM: Yes, very much so. Mike’s a great guy.
PSP: Instead of playing Robin Hood, had you been given the chance to play any other fairytale character on OUAT, which one would you have chosen and why?
SM: Umm, I don’t know… again I suppose darker or more complex characters are more interesting for me and therefore… but obviously I don’t think I’d have been a good Regina. But if I were to approach a character sort of like Regina’s character, same thing with Bobby and Rumple… yeah, I think those two characters do come to mind and would be fun.
PSP: Interesting… a darker Robin Hood would be interesting to see too.
SM: Hmm, yeah.
PSP: Because he’s so virtuous and chivalrous so it’d be interesting to see Robin turn to a sort of “I don’t care anymore,” mode.
SM: Yeah, I think from an acting perspective that would be very interesting and I think from an audience perspective they might not like that initially, but it would certainly make for an interesting story.
PSP: Understandable, essentially it’d be fun and interesting for you because you’d be able to play a different sort of role then.
SM: Yeah, exactly, I mean hopefully there is a long story ahead of Robin and maybe we’ll see that.
PSP: Well, they did sort of do that with the Belle and the Lacey episode. In that Emilie de Ravin was acting in a completely different role.
PSP: Did you get any archery training prior to coming to the show?
SM: I actually did not.
PSP: Do you plan on starting up? Has the role sparked interest at all?
SM: I’d like to. The first day of filming there was a photographer on set and she was a professional archer and she taught me how to hold the bow and how to line it up and hold three fingers to your cheek and all of that stuff. But luckily thanks to science and technology, I don’t have to be the best archer in the world because sometimes the arrows are CGI and this or that. So, I don’t have to be an A-plus archer to play the role.
PSP: And on the topic of bows – Snow White has her bow and arrow, Granny has her crossbow, you’ve had the chance to use both! Do you prefer one over the other?
SM: I dunno if I prefer one over the other, but both of them have their own sort of difficulty. The crossbow is kind of cumbersome and awkward to carry, it’s difficult to get out of the way when you have a talking scene and you’re still holding the crossbow. As for the bow and arrow, the bow’s about seven feet long so when I’m walking around a bit I tend to hit the other actors when I turn around and someone calls my name…I’m sure they could do without that. It’s just cool to be playing Robin Hood, and the bow really reminds me of who I am and so it’s kind of cool. It’s cool to have that Robin Hood costume on.
PSP: It’s like Halloween every day!
PSP: So, you have many scenes with Raphael Alejandro who plays Roland, your character’s son. What is it like having such a small child on set? Is there a swear jar somewhere?
SM: Well, if someone, mainly me does say a little… let’s call it a “word slip” then Raphael has a very mischievous smile that says, “You weren’t supposed to say that,” and I very immediately cover his ears and say, “No, no, no… ear muffs, ear muffs, ear muffs.” He’s just the sweetest, most brilliant boy and he has great parents as well… he is extraordinarily mature for a six year old and just very professional. I mean, if he’s been on set for a longer period of time then he might get a bit restless but as long as I play with him and have some fun with him, when we get back to working and I say, “Let’s focus,” he’s just instantly there. He’s a remarkable talent and I think he’s going to be a big star.
PSP: Wow, yeah. So who gets into the most trouble on set? Any prank stories just yet?
SM: We don’t really prank each other…it’s a lot of goofing around and having fun together. We’re all just being silly because you know, once you get to know people… when you’re on set for 14-15 hours a day; you want to pass the time with the people that you have fun with. And I do think it’s important to have a few laughs and jokes, but we don’t do practical jokes and such, we just try and keep each other entertained during the long dark days in the forest.
PSP: Oh the forest, the mysteries of the forest.
SM: Ahh, yes. Mm-hmm.
PSP: Earlier you mentioned the film, Songs for Amy, can you tell us a bit more about it?
SM: Yeah, I can tell you that it’s available pretty much everywhere including iTunes. It’s a sort of love story, a comedy, and a drama… it’s just a really sweet film and everyone involved put their hearts and souls into it. I’m very proud with the result and so far everybody has been very positive in response. So I’m really looking forward to sharing it with Once fans and hope they’ll enjoy it as much as we enjoyed making it.
PSP: Are there any other future projects that you’d like to mention right now?
SM: Not quite right now, at the moment I’m just focused on Once until April and then we’ll see what’s going on when we get there.
PSP: Is there anything else you’re allowed to share about Season 4? Or are there things you want to say to the readers and viewers in general?
SM: Ohhhhhh, without getting myself into some potential trouble I’m not quite sure. I’ve read online a lot of people’s ideas of what they think is going to happen and as I’ve said in the past, I have faith in our writers. They will make it entertaining and they will make it somewhat unpredictable and I think the audience is really going to enjoy it.
PSP: I think so too. I think Adam and Eddy have such an amazing talent and we do trust them very much.
SM: You absolutely should. They’re very aware of what the fans are saying and what the fans want. I also think that they’re very involved and they are aware of what kind of show they themselves want to make and do take fans views on board more so than other shows I’ve been on. They’re aware of how the fans feel about certain things and certain characters. So that’s why I have a lot of faith in their ability to tell the story the way they want to versus the way others think they should.
PSP: Exactly. That was actually the last question and so I think I’ll go hop over to Twitter and start that hashtag! Thanks so much for your time. Please do tell your mother we all said hello.
SM: I will, I will. Thank you very much, I really appreciate it and I hope you enjoy the new season! Thank you to all the fans and all of the kind people who have been supportive to me as well as the show in general, because it’s very much a show that is entirely made for the fans. We’re very appreciative of it.
Source: Once Storybrooke