Robert Carlyle has his doubts about a happy ending for Mr. Gold.
On Once Upon a Time, we’ve seen characters transition from villainous roles to more heroic ones, but it’s often a struggle – and right now, it’s safe to say Mr. Gold/Rumplestiltskin has leaned back into his dark side in a big way.
During a recent visit to the set of Once Upon a Time, I was among a group of journalists who spoke to Robert Carlyle about his character’s conflicting natures and how and why his love for Belle may not be enough to permanently change him.
Question: Is there ever going to be a point where Gold worries his lies are going to collapse or does he think he can balance all of this?
Robert Carlyle: I think it’s always sort of precarious, you know, for him. Very little that he does is by accident. Everything is kind of pre-destined in some way. It’s the same way in Season 4 that these characters come in to Storybrooke, the Frozen characters. He knows all these people, he has history with all of these people. So everything that’s happening — and the Snow Queen as well — none of this is a surprise to him.
Question: What can you tease about the history with Rumple and the Snow Queen?
Carlyle: I don’t know how much I can really tell you about it other than they go way back. A lot of these magical characters, Rumple has either trained or helped in some way. He hasn’t exactly trained her, but he’s helped her along the way. There’s a deep, deep history there, but there’s a real strange relationship. They’re very, very dangerous to each other. They’re both slightly afraid of each other, I think.
Question: He’s happy right now, so what’s behind this quest for the kind of power he’s seeking? Belle wouldn’t want that.
Carlyle: No, she’s wouldn’t. Belle and him are two entirely separate things. It’s wrong. You cannot combine these two characters together and think they’re the same thing. There’s loads of stuff out there talking about “Rumbelle.” It doesn’t exist. He is absolutely a character in his own right, as is she.
He definitely loves her. There’s no doubt about that and he wants to be with her. This other thing, [other] part of his life, is probably bigger. Because this has existed long before she came along and will probably exist long after she’s gone. This hat and this kind of quest for magic and power is so massive for him. This kind of addiction he has to it is huge. That’s what drives Rumplestiltskin more than love.
Question: Will Belle start to suspect he’s keeping secrets?
Carlyle: That’s his Achilles heel at the moment. I think it’s a nice thing for the character to have. Any of these super powerful characters should always have something where if you pick below the surface, you can see there’s problems there and that’s his big problem. He’s lied right away in his marriage, he’s been duplicitous about this knife. I don’t know, but I think once this comes up it’s not good!
Question: How will he and Hook continue to interact?
Carlyle: If you think about it, that was a really stupid thing for Hook to do. And that comes back to bite him really badly. Because [Gold] knows as soon as it happened… he’s already thinking “How am I going to do him for this?” and he does. And it continues after that. He won’t let it go. He’s like a dog with a bone. He gives him the hand, but…
Question: Given Gold being motivated so much by power, would you ultimately define him as a villain? Do you see him as a tragic character?
Carlyle: I guess, in a kind of simple form of looking at it, he’s a villain; he’s a bad guy. But it’s very difficult when you live with a character for three or four years now, you can see lots of levels. I don’t necessarily see him as purely a villain at all. I do see him as an addict. He’s addicted to this world, this power and this magic. But I don’t necessarily see him as being an evil person, though he’s done some pretty evil stuff and he’s capable, he’s very capable. And as it goes to episode 9 and 10, it’s really bad, what he gets up to.
Question: Is the quest for power is going to eventually get between him and Belle for good?
Carlyle: I don’t think the creators would ever let that relationship entirely go. But I think that this season it’s going to stretch it to its limit. He’s going to have to think on his feet all the time and try and keep these secrets from her. And we all know that’s real life. You keep secrets from somebody and then another secret and another lie to make up for that lie. You tell another lie and another lie to make up for that lie. And that’s where he is. So I don’t think it can go on forever.
Question: So many of the Once Upon a Time characters have a history with your character – often, everything comes back to Rumple.
Carlyle: I know, it’s true. For me, it’s great, because it’s fantastic as an actor. A lot of the stuff that goes on, in the episodes, regardless of whether I’m there or not, has been driven by him at some point. All roads kind of lead to Rumple in the end.
Question: Do you see him getting a happy ending?
Carlyle: I don’t know. I really don’t know. To be honest, it’s… I think if you start to think of the characters like that then you’re going to start to lose the essence of what they are. Ultimately, they’re not meant for that world. The other characters — Snow White, Charming or whoever it is — these are the happy ending people. So whether these other ones get to that place or not is up to the creators. For me, I just don’t think it would be honest to do that. I think life just ain’t like that. You know, there’s good people and bad people.