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Interview: Robert Carlyle and Emilie de Ravin of ‘Once Upon a Time’

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Last season, Once Upon a Time proved to be very treacherous waters for Rumplestiltskin (Robert Carlyle) and Belle (Emilie de Ravin). Rumple had embraced his dark side time after time, lying to Belle, and simply being a jerk of the highest degree. For the first time in four seasons, I began to wonder why I had invested the previous three seasons in trying to understand him.Robert Carlyle and Emilie de Ravin in the Comic-Con pressroom

At the end of last season, we learned that Rumple’s dark heart had been literally killing him. Whether that is any justification for his actions is debatable, but in the end, he is rescued, and at the expense of Emma’s own light magic heart, turning Emma into the Dark One and turning Rumple’s heart white, while throwing him into a coma.

Last season also proved to be Belle’s last straw in her rock relationship with the Dark One. Banishing Rumple from Storybrooke, Belle began to find new romance, but when Rumple returns, dying, her own heart bleeds for him. (After all, she’s never stopped loving him.) And when there’s a choice to be made, her heart goes with Rumple.

But as season five starts, Rumple is in a coma, and all hands are on deck to save Emma from the darkness before it consumes her. Who knows what may happen when the lightest of magic mingles with the power of the Dark One’s dagger?

I had the opportunity to chat with Robert and Emilie during Comic-Con in a chaotic, noisy pressroom. Our time was brief, and they were reluctant to discuss anything about their characters going forward. (Robert was playfully adamant about it, actually.)

To be fair, neither actor had seen more than the first script, and they were only three days into the shooting when we spoke. In the past, during Comic-Con interviews, both had been eager to speak of where they want their storylines to go, but whether it was the chaos, or the playful mood, there was little to be shared, even about their characters’ emotional states.

Robert said, “We’ve only shot three days from one script. We have no idea where it’s going to go.” Eventually, Emilie added that thought “the Camelot story was going to be great. Of the “Rumbelle” relationship (Rumple-Belle), Emilie offered, “Because Belle is in a coma, [their] relationship is put on a the back burner a little bit because of it.” said Emilie. “Of course,” she added. “Everyone’s trying help Emma and help extract the darkness and thinking about where we’re going to put it.” Then, she turned it around, asking us, playfullly, “Where do you think we should put the darkness now? Go!” eliciting a laugh from the journalists at the table.

I asked about the white heart and now what (from his point of view what no longer being the Dark One meant for Rumple. Robert replied, “how do you know he’s not the dark one?” He then quipped, “I’d like Belle to be the dark one. I want her tease me with the dagger.” (Hmm. Now that sounds entertaining, if not quite for the early Sunday night TV hour!)

Emilie inserted that her wish for the season was to finally get a chance to be on horseback, proclaiming that she was the only one yet to have that opportunity! “I want to ride a horse in every scene. Season five in a nutshell!” Again, laughter.

Finally, Robert offered his take on the Rumple-Belle relationship: “This relationship is obviously too important for the show, for them to let go of it. I think it will continue along the lines it always has.”

What that will mean for season five is anyone’s guess. A lot of “Rumbelle” fans have been unhappy with the lack of screentime for this pivotal pairing, but, Robert’s closing words may give a bit of hope that their story will become more prominent in season five.

Once Upon a Time returns with new episodes this fall, Sunday nights, on ABC.

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About Barbara Barnett

Barbara Barnett is Publisher/Executive Editor of Blogcritics, (blogcritics.org). Her Bram Stoker Award-nominated novel, called "Anne Rice meets Michael Crichton," The Apothecary's Curse The Apothecary's Curse is now out from Pyr, an imprint of Prometheus Books. Her book on the TV series House, M.D., Chasing Zebras is a quintessential guide to the themes, characters and episodes of the hit show. Barnett is an accomplished speaker, an annual favorite at MENSA's HalloWEEM convention, where she has spoken to standing room crowds on subjects as diverse as "The Byronic Hero in Pop Culture," "The Many Faces of Sherlock Holmes," "The Hidden History of Science Fiction," and "Our Passion for Disaster (Movies)."