By Gareth Hughes - @OUAFBoss
You've been acting from an early age. How did that come about?
Every spring and summer breaks for as long as I can remember, my parents sign up my brother and I to different day camps so we can learn and try different things. One of my camps (when I was four years old) was a Superheroes Acting Camp. I loved acting right away and went to as many classes as my parents would let me. One of my teachers recommended that I get an agent and start going to auditions. After about a year of me asking my parents to call an agent, they finally agreed to contact an agency and I have been working ever since.
Going all the way back to the pilot of Once Upon A Time, can you tell us how it felt to be involved in such an exciting project?
I had been cast in TV pilots before and I knew that most pilots never get picked up, so I tried to not get too excited. I was pretty calm until I got to Once Wardrobe a week before filming where I met Eduardo Castro (Costume Designer) who showed me the most amazing costumes I have ever seen on a movie or TV show! I totally fell in love with my Pinocchio costume and gave up on being calm and could not wait to start shooting the pilot.
A lot of your scenes are with Tony Amendola. He's such a distinguished actor. Has he given you any guidance or pointers over the years?
In the second season, Tony and I had a scene were we both needed to be crying. In rehearsals I was embarrassed to cry because I never had to be that emotional before on camera. Tony took the time to coach me and make me feel comfortable and explain to me why it is ok to just let go of your emotions. Gwyneth Horder-Payton, the Director of that episode, said action and it stopped being a scene. Tony and I were both just talking to each other, saying our goodbyes and we were both crying. The more Tony cried the more I cried. Tony makes any actor he works with better. He is an incredible person in real life and I love working with him. I use our scenes in my Demo reel (link on my Twitter).
What's an average day on set like for you? How do you combine acting with your school studies?
I have mostly done feature films and guest spots on TV so I don’t think I have been in one place long enough to ever have an average day on set. I am really lucky to have great on-set teachers who work with my regular teachers. I do the same work as the kids in my class but do it one-on-one with my set teacher. Kids working on set have a real advantage at school (if they are smart enough to take advantage of it). A big reason that I am an A student (at my public school) is because of two of my set teachers.
You've been at the centre of a big storyline this year with the build up to August's return. How did it feel to return to the show and what was the experience like of filming scenes with all the villains?
It is always great to go back on Once. It is such a fun set and I would be a fan of the show even if I wasn’t on it! I was excited when I found out I was going to work with all the Season 4 Villains. No matter what, I knew I was going to try to get a picture with all of them. I had met Lana and Robert on other episodes, but did not know the new villains (Maleficent, Ursula and Cruella). I did not know what to expect when they were all together. If you told me we would be having a singing dance party in between scenes, I never would have believed you! Every time I hear “Uptown Funk” by Bruno Mars, I now think of the Queens of Darkness.
You had a great scene with Lana Parrilla. You looked genuinely terrified of Regina! How was that to film?
Lana is one of the nicest people you will ever meet. She was the first actor to come and introduce herself to me and my mom at the pilot. A couple of years ago, Jared told her my little brother Jack was scared of her (he called her the “Black Smoke Witch”). She spoke to Jack until he knew the witch was not real. After that meeting, Jack could watch the show without covering his eyes. So I thought filming and being scared of someone so nice would be tricky. Lana is such a good actor she kind of flips a switch from nice to Evil Queen that made me react well to her in the scene.
What's your fondest memory of working on Once Upon A Time?
I think my best memories of Once Upon a Time are the times I have met the fans of the show. Once fans are everywhere and you meet them in the strangest places. In August, I was at a Red Carpet premiere for “If I Stay” at the Grauman’s Chinese Theatre in Los Angeles and there were thousands of people there to see Chloe Grace Moretz. After the Premiere showing, we were all trying to get across the street to Roosevelt Hotel for the after party. People had gotten through the barriers and it was scary until the police saved us. They got Chloe inside and things settled down a bit. Just outside the hotel, I saw a Oncer fan holding Henrys Book (It looked real!). I scooted around the police and got to talk to her. She was super nice and asked me to sign the book. Oncers are everywhere and they are awesome!
What are your interests and hobbies outside of acting?
I love going to the bike park with my friends, Sailing in the summer and have played Tackle Football for the White Rock Titans since I was 5 years old. I am the Quarterback and my Peewee team won the Presidents Cup Championship last season. I think it is important to be active and always be willing to try different things even if they seem hard at first.
You've worked with an incredible array of big stars over the years. Who do you look up to in the acting world? Is there anybody you'd love to get the chance to work with?
I like the work of a lot of actors but mostly look up to some of the ones I have met. Some of the biggest stars can be the nicest people (even after 12 hours on set!). For me, you need to be more than good at something like sports or acting to be looked up to. Chloe Grace Moretz was in almost every scene in "If I Stay", worked super hard at her school work and was super kind to everyone. She won the People’s Choice Award this year for best dramatic movie actress and thanked me in her acceptance speech (something I never expected). Even though she comes from such a caring family, I believe #kindnessisachoice. As far as other actors I would like to work with, I will keep that quiet so I don’t jinx anything.
Can you tell us about future acting projects you have coming up?
I have a movie called "The Birdwatcher" in post production and will be released this year. This movie has some other Once Upon A Time cast members as well: David –Paul Grove "Doc" and Gabrielle Rose "Ruth" (Prince Charming’s mom). Gabrielle has been in my last three movies and played my grandma twice. Another movie soon to be released in North America is "The Young and Prodigious Spivet "with Helen Bohnham-Carter and directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet ("Amelie"). I am really excited for people to see it! I trained for three months to learn to rope a calf, ride a horse and shoot a shotgun. I even had to shave off my hair for the role to look like a real cowboy.
Finally, you tweeted a behind the scenes photo of yourself holding the Dark One's dagger, which was very cool. How did it feel to have the power of the Dark One in your hands?
I was on set, in between takes and sitting on a table was the dagger! I could not believe it. No one was around, and it was just lying there, beckoning me!. I am a huge fan and for a minute you forget you are on a set. If felt lighter than I thought it would and your imagination really gets going when you are holding it!