Interview by Gareth Hughes & Laura Foster
Since his first movie role in 'Riff Raff' (1991), Robert Carlyle has proven himself to be a power house actor, bringing an incredible emotional range to a wide variety of roles. Trainspotting, Carla's Song, Priest, The Beach, Angela's Ashes, The Full Monty, Robert's C.V reads like an A-Z of some of the coolest and grittiest british movies of the last 25 years. With both an OBE and an Honorary Doctorate under his belt, Robert has been a British institution for years. Ask anyone about Robert Carlyle and you will invariably get the same response, "He's a fantastic actor".
His amazing portrayal as both Rumplestiltskin and Mr. Gold on 'Once Upon a Time' has recently cemented him as a firm favorite amongst the loyal OUAT fan base all around the world. Both those who have followed his career for years and those just discovering his work for the first time have been left enthralled by his mischevious antics on the smash-hit ABC show.
Robert was kind enough to take time out of his hectic schedule recently to answer some questions for us and share his unique viewpoint on a variety of subjects. He also threw us a bombshell that truly left us stunned.
You've managed to not only build but have maintained an intensely loyal fan base throughout the years, but since the OUAT premiere we've seen it really skyrocket off the charts. How has this had an impact on your day to day life or do you just take it all in your stride?
No real impact on my day to day.. I think any kind of attention like that will only affect you if you allow it to. I am, of course, truly grateful for the incredible response to the lads (Rumple and Gold) and toward the show in general, and my recently joining the wonderful world of Twitter has certainly brought that to my attention, but I believe you must never get too caught up in it all. My job is essentially to entertain and my focus must always be the work itself.
The fans often bring up the fact that Rumplestiltskin's mannerisms were influenced by your youngest son. Is he aware of his role in the character's development? Have your children seen you in costume? If so, how do they react to it?
He's not aware... though he does call himself Mini Rumple and thinks he should be playing my son, which does make a bizarre kind of sense. He is though only a small part of the equation. There are many influences, styles and people that go into making Rumple what he is. Most of them you may never have heard of. Some stretching way, way back to characters and actors that I have loved and admired ever since I was a child.
What has been your favorite episode of OUAT to film?
My favourite episode has been "Skin Deep". No big surprises there I would think!
I thought it was beautifully written by Jane Espenson and directed with great elegance by Milan Cheylov. I feel that this was the episode when people really began to understand Rumple, and even Gold perhaps to a lesser extent. You sense the loneliness in the characters, that their lives are incomplete.
And it was, of course a delight to work with Emilie De Ravin. I thought she was a wonderful Belle and a perfect foil for Rumple.
You've made a name for yourself directing as well, such as 'Pathogen' on Stargate Universe. Do you have any ambitions to direct an episode of Once Upon A Time?
I enjoy working closely with my fellow actors so yes, perhaps it is something that could happen. Dependent on ABC of course.
Fans can't seem to get enough of the 'RumBelle' romance. What direction would you like to see them take their relationship in future episodes?
I have been truly blown away by the response to this relationship. I will happily leave it up to the genius that is Eddy Kitsis and Adam Horowitz to decide which way it will go from here.
Everyone loves it when you do your Twitter Q & A sessions, and I'm sure it's very overwhelming at times. How do you cope with all of those people vying for your attention at the same time?
It can be a little overwhelming at times. Such a stupid thing to attempt.. to reply to everyone!!
I do enjoy it but I wish people would ask maybe only one or two questions and wait for a response rather than hitting me with dozens. Things like "what's your favourite colour" really get in the way!!
I'm always happy to talk about the work.
You get to show off your musical chops in 'California Solo', hopefully to be in wide release this fall (and of course your appearance in the Oasis video 'Little by Little') Which musicians or band would be on your ultimate playlist?
I love music. Love a good gig before a film any day of the week. I use music a lot when I am working. I really wish I had learned the guitar at an early age and ran off and joined a band. I am the archetypal frustrated rock star and have many friends in the music industry.
You will always know which trailer is mine on set from the music that is constantly blaring out from it. Early Rod Stewart, Bob Dylan, The Beatles, David Bowie, Elton John, Tom Waits, Paul Weller, Massive Attack, Primal Scream, Stone Roses, Kasabian.. to name but a few.
We love your voice work in various projects such as the audio version of “The Cutting Room” by Louise Welsh and the Castlevania: Lords of Shadow video games. Do you have any more voice projects planned in the immediate future?
No immediate plans, though there is talk of another Lords of the Shadows.
What are your top three favourite films of all time?
This can change from day to day but amongst them must be "Bad Lieutenant" and "Raging Bull" then maybe the amazing Studio Ghibli animation "Spirited Away" for a bit of light relief!
What is your favorite book?
Sad to say that i'm not really an avid reader. Especially when I am working. I think it can take you away from the world in which you are trying to express yourself. Alternatively, I can sit for literally hours with nothing in front of me but my imagination.
What has been the most challenging scene to shoot on OUAT?
Without doubt it has to be the scene between Gold and Mo, the florist, in Gold's cabin in the woods. I found this extremely difficult.
For the first time in my career I am acutely aware that a lot of children watch and love this show. I felt I had to be very careful not to alienate that young audience while at the same time express Gold's rage. Hopefully I pitched it correctly.
What has been your most memorable experience as an actor?
So many to choose from. That's the great thing about this acting life, you can be put into situations, forced to confront things you may never have in any other walk of life.
Among some, the most memorable locations have been filming "Ravenous" in the Tatra mountains on the Poland/Slovakian border and shooting SGU in the incredible deserts of the Bisti Badlands in stunning New Mexico.
What role has been the most physically and emotionally demanding?
I played Hitler in the CBS mini series "Hitler, The Origins of Evil" and that was really tough. It was tremendously difficult to get my head round that one.. to find a way in. To play any character at all demands that you at least try to understand that person, no matter how distasteful that character might be.
This wasn't a character, this was only too real. One of the most evil men in history and it took me literally months to get in there.. and several more months to get out. On a lighter note, the crew used to call the piece "the Oranges of Evil". Always made me smile.
Do you have any funny stories or bloopers from the OUAT set you would care to share with us?
I like the atmosphere on set to be light but respectful. I never reveal stuff like that because I believe it should stay "in house".
Many fans felt that Gold had not learned his lesson at the end of season one. He was again putting power before love by unleashing magic on Storybrooke. If all magic has a price, do you think Rumple will pay it in season two?
I have absolutely no idea and that's the way I like it! Again, I will happily leave all of that to our magnificent writing team.
Your scenes with Lana are always absolutely outstanding; every scene between Rumple/Gold and Regina is just so entertaining to watch. Is there a particular scene from season 1 that stands out for you?
I absolutely love working with Lana. We have very different approaches to the work, but it is always, always interesting and rewarding. And fun too.
So many to choose from in season 1, but if I have to pick a couple they would be.. the cell scene in episode 2, when we were face to face, up close and dirty!! And the fantastic scene, again in a cell, in episode 12, "Skin Deep", when Gold is forced to reveal that he knows he is Rumpelstiltskin and finally gets back the chipped cup.
Finally, the fans have been so supportive and we were amazed at how they got behind our campaign to raise money for With Kids. Over £1000 already raised and we have a charity auction to come in early September. What would you like to say to all the fans who made it possible? And why is With Kids so very important to you?
I cannot express just how moved I was by the response to the With Kids charity auction. To think that you guys did that, totally unsolicited, really blew me away. It was a beautiful thing to do, and believe me, that cash could not have gone to a more worthy cause. This charity means so much to me because I believe that every child and every family deserves a decent chance in life. We all deserve a break. Something that my father and I could have been doing with many years ago.
As regards the auction coming up in September, I will be donating what I believe will be the ultimate piece.
The actual chipped cup from "Skin Deep"!
I took it from the set as a memento of what I thought was one of the finest pieces of television I have ever had the pleasure to be involved in. I shall autograph it, ask Emilie to do the same and put it up for auction.. BUT.. it will take an enormous bid to prise it from my grubby hands!!
Finally, thank you to everyone for the incredible support you have given me and the show. We have been successful in our venture because of a lot of factors, and we cannot underestimate the part you, the audience, played in all of this. FORZA OUAT!!!