‘Once Upon a Time’s’ Robbie Kay chats about being Peter Pan
Robbie Kay, the actor who so evilly portrayed Peter Pan in the latest arc of ABC’s “Once Upon a Time,” may or may not have met an untimely demise at the end of Sunday night’s winter finale episode. His Pan always seemed to have an answer for whatever traps and schemes were placed in front of him, even helping popularize his own Twitter hashtag: #PanNeverFails. We caught up with the actor before the finale, and though he was reluctant to reveal any secrets (check out the recap if you missed it), we at least learned what he thinks of the season so far and about his experience playing Pan.
Show Tracker: What was your first impression of “Once Upon a Time’s’” Peter Pan?
Robbie Kay: I honestly thought that it was a very, very clever idea implemented by [Executive Producers] Adam [Horowitz] and Eddy [Kitsis] for “Once Upon a Time.” They do a very good job of putting twists and angles on characters in the show that people don’t expect, and this character in particular is very strong and was a strong villain, so it was brilliant to emulate that and get myself into a role that really, although it’s an iconic character, has many different values and mannerisms that people aren’t used to.
ST: How different was Neverland than you had envisioned it?
RK: Well, it’s always been this place that kids go to in their dreams, but with “Once Upon a Time,” it’s actually a sinister place. You have the cast always trekking through the jungle and they’ve always got their weapons out, so it is a very hostile place it seems. And the Lost Boys are not nice, which is something people are unfamiliar with.
ST: Did Pan do certain things that just surprised you even after you’d gotten to know him?
RK: There were some things, but Pan does things that are surprising for both myself and the audience really. You can see it from episode 8, when we discover that he is Rumpelstiltskin’s father. I mean, that caught me by surprise, and I obviously didn’t see that coming. It added an extra layer to the character.
ST: When you thought of yourself as Robert Carlye’s/Rumpelstiltskin’s dad on the set, was it weird?
RK: It is very weird! It’s very, very odd and we had jokes on the set -- “Hello, Dad.” “Hello, son.” -- and all of that. But it is very bizarre. You’ve got someone like Robert Carlyle who has a lot of prestige in the film and television business and has been around for a long time, so to say that you’re his father in an 18-year-old’s body is bizarre.
ST: The show is great in mixing fairy tales. Is there a fairy tale that you most identified with growing up?
RK: To be honest, Peter Pan was one of those fairy tales that I sort of related to, and I think that’s the case with a lot of kids. The whole idea of escapism really resonates with a lot of kids. To go back to that character and maybe alter people’s opinions of that character and that fairy tale is quite interesting.
ST: How different is it to do the body switch and be out of Neverland after being there a majority of the season?
RK: Yeah, so there’s an environmental shift so that character is not in his own court, if you will. So he’s adapting to a new environment and obviously in the most recent episodes there was also a character shift. So I’m playing Henry and Jared [Gilmore] is playing Pan. That again was crazy, but a lot of fun.
ST: So you watched Jared’s movements and cadence for the episodes?
RK: Yeah, mostly. It was interesting though that I could keep my accent. I guess it was a physical thing.
ST: What do fans have to look forward to, and how far in the future are you able to glimpse?
RK: It’s not too far. We get the chance to see a little bit and kind of know where our character is going, but ... well, let’s just say that you’ll get to see a great finale.
“Once Upon a Time” returns March 9.
Inside the business of entertainment
The Wide Shot brings you news, analysis and insights on everything from streaming wars to production — and what it all means for the future.
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.