Interview by Gareth Hughes
Once Upon A Fan recently got the chance to pose a few questions to Once Upon A Time’s Faustino Di Bauda, who plays the role of Sleepy on the smash hit ABC series. His answers revealed a very interesting back story and shows that belief and destiny can sometimes enter all of our lives at the most unexpected times.
Tell us about your plans during the break from filming?
At present, still going out on auditions as well as taking a class to keep honing the skills. Also working on some retaining walls, walkways and landscaping at my Mom's house.
Can you tell us about your career and what initially got you into acting and production?
10+ years ago, I got into 3 automobile accidents in 13 months. First two were 26 hours apart. I wasn’t feeling so good and was undergoing much therapy and my massage therapist suggested yoga. I started yoga, loved it and was practicing quite regularly. I met a travelling Swami on his stop in Vancouver, he suggested I go to India and attend a retreat he was leading at his Guru’s ashram.
I was interested but just a little low on funds and work commitments. I told him I’d think about it.
A month before the retreat, my parked car was struck by a motorist minutes before I was due to get in it. Insurance company paid me for the replacement of the car. So no car, money in hand, thoughts of not driving for a while and this idea of going to India? So I did.
On my travel’s there, airline lost my luggage, so I purchased some garments, went to ashram, attended the retreat and practiced some yoga. One day joking around with my fellow yogi’s, one on them, a friend to this day, said I should be an actor and that I already was. Well I was dumb founded as I have always been an extremely shy individual with no experience except for playing a Christmas ornament on the tree in a grade 3 play.
A month later, leaving India with my luggage, which I received on my way out, and the idea of becoming an actor. A year and a half later, I met another actor who suggested a school in town, I auditioned in a read and was accepted into the intro class. That was about 8 years ago.
I attended scene study classes, one after another, with various teachers in town. I later studied Meisner, where I saw my work really improve. Around that time,my funds diminished as I was not working as a stone mason much due to my injuries in my mid 30‘s. No agent, no plays, no films, just desire and a lot of doubt. I stopped acting and tried getting back to work as a mason, working through my injuries.
Later that year, I was sent on a wrestling assignment in Romania. I decided rather than to come home straight away, to do some more travelling. I met this girl, fell in love and lived in a communist country (Moldova) for some time, getting to know her. Close to a year later, we came back to Canada and got married 5 months later.
I started taking acting classes again and the woman I was studying with said I should take a workshop with Larry Moss, so I did. He asked me to do a scene with another actor and he would coach and evaluate our work. He loved what I did and encouraged me to continue, that was back in November 2007.
A year later, I attended another workshop, this time with Joe Palese, who also teaches out of LA. I had a similar experience and met my present day agent who started representing me shortly thereafter. 2 years went by where I did a play and 6 short films, still training and being sent out auditioning for commercials and not getting a thing. I finally called my Agent (Emilio Salituro) and asked him to send me out to auditions for TV and Film. That was in January 2011, and in March I went out on my first audition for TV for this project called Once Upon A Time!
What would you say has been the highlight of your career so far?
Reporting for work on Once Upon A Time, March 25th, at North Shore Studios and meeting Lee Arenberg for the first time. We did the scene where we were on look out for the curse and I fell asleep.
Seeing my trailer with Sleepy on the door, sitting in my chair with my name on it and calling my agent at 5.30am when the day was done.
What has been your biggest challenge so far in life?
Reinventing myself in my 40’s from Stone Mason to Actor.
How did you become involved in Once Upon A Time?
It was my first audition where I came in and auditioned for the Canadian casting and I did a scene for them 3 times. Later that same day, I was doing the scene agaun several times for Steve Pearlman and Mark Mylod. A week later, I got called back to meet again but not to audition, rather to meet all the other dwarfs minus Grumpy. A few days later my agent told me I got the job!
How was the overall experience on set during the filming of season 1?
One word - Amazing!!! Everyone involved being really cool to work with from cast to crew. Very loving and very helpful.
Have you had any great blooper moments on set you'd like to share?
There was this moment for me during the security camera review in episode 3 where I said “sorry I just had a brain fart”, you know how you forget something and I was talking out loud to myself and just said it, thought nothing about it till I was at the wrap party for season one and it made the blooper reel.
Technically, how do you deal with issues such as green screen and CGI etc. It must be hard to act and respond to something that isn't there?
It was at the beginning when I was training for on camera work in class and one teacher said that’s when we imagine it. Then it was easy because who doesn’t like to imagine, to make believe. That’s where the fun lies and why I love this work!
What one fact about yourself would really surprise the fans?
That I was an awkwardly shy kid that would be picked on at school because I talked funny, dressed weird, ate odd food at lunch. I was an immigrant kid just learning English who looked and sounded different so I got picked on. Getting tired of all the bullying, I fought back and spent most of my free time in detention during lunch in elementary. I originally learned to wrestle and box to defend myself, and later it was because I was good at it and I used it as a way to overcome my shyness, as I was successful in wrestling and my popularity grew.
What would be your dream acting role?
I've always loved the TV series, Columbo, and the work that Peter Falk did on the show. It was and continues to be a favorite of mine for several years. If at any time a network would want to remake the show and air it again, I would love to play Columbo.
If you had a chance to meet anyone, living or dead, who would it be and why?
There are so many. Gandhi, Dr. Martin King Jr., Nelson Mandela, to name but a few. Mainly because of their work that they did in bringing awareness to the value of all men and woman in a non prejudicial manner in a peaceful approach led by their courage.
Can you tell us more about future projects that you have in the pipeline?
I’ve done an episode on the TV series, The Killing, on AMC channel that aired in mid April. I also did my first feature film called Seventh Son with Jeff Bridges and Julianne Moore. I had the opportunity to work with Jeff in a scene which was a lot of fun. Seventh Son is still being produced and when it will open in theatres, I have no Idea. Other than that, working on my craft and auditioning regularly till my next job offer comes around.
Describe your perfect day?
Any day where I wake up from a great night’s sleep dreaming of beautiful magical scenes with color and remember it. That alone motivates me to take on the day in a courageous, playful manner.
Did you envision the massive success and fandom that has developed around the show so quickly?
Yes and No! When I read the Pilot I fell in love with the story and knew, in my heart, it was a winner. As far as understanding how a fan base is formed around the show and its followers is concerned, I had no idea of how quickly the growth of its popularity would be.
I am extremely pleased that the show has this positive effect on so many people on so many levels. I am truly blessed to be part of this project, telling a story of hope, love and so many positive messages vs. the everyday other stuff.
What would you like to say to all the fans who are reading this article and who follow you?
Always follow your dreams, be persistent, even when failure is imminent, and always believe in your heart that everything and anything is possible if you take that leap of faith and just believe.
You can follow Faustino on IMDB & Twitter
Faustino also has a Facebook fan page.