As Neal Cassady on “Once Upon A Time,” Michael Raymond-James is a charming ne’er-do-well turned caring dad who seems to be right on the verge of rekindling the flame with Emma (Jennifer Morrison), the mother of his son — that is, until the evil Tamara makes her presence known in Storybrooke. However, romance is the least of anyone’s worries for the next few weeks.
With the season finale looming on May 12, Neal (or at least his youthful self, better known by his given name of Baelfire) can expect some excitement; next week the storyline takes Bae from fairytale land to Victorian London, where he meets the Darlings (whom you might remember from a little story about Peter Pan). I spoke briefly to Raymond-James about what’s coming up in the coming weeks, whether his character’s name suggests a future Kerouac crossover and whether he’s seen the Tumblr site that’s all about him. [Also, fans of the show who’d like to see an extended preview of the next episode can find it here]
We don’t want to give anything away, but it seems like Neal has some rough road ahead, doesn’t he?
He has some bumps coming up. There is a lot of unfinished business coming up with Neal and Emma and his dad [Rumpelstiltskin/Mr. Gold], and we’re going to see some of the things resolved and some scratch the surface of some of the unfinished business that will be addressed.
How has being a father to Henry changed Neal, in your opinion?
One of the things that was taken from Baelfire early on was a sense of family, and that sort of is something he’s aways been looking for and that has been absent, in that he’s been a bit of a rudderless ship. He experiences some of that with the Darling family [when Baelfire ends up in Victorian London]. With the revelation he was a father to Henry, that gives him some real solid direction. It’s something he was always looking for, because how do you create that in a world you not from with no firsthand relationship to anyone or anything? It’s tough sledding. With Henry, he’s able to dive in a little bit. The only direction he has is what not to be, because he’s not going to be his father. Neal wants so badly to be the father to Henry that he never had. He’s going to move cautiously forward.
Is there any chance that Neal will start to see that Rumpelstiltskin did make some choices for his benefit? He fled from battle because he didn’t want Baelfire to grow up without a father, for instance.
Some of that information he didn’t know, but he did see Rumpel choose magic and power over him when [he chose not to go through the portal with Baelfire] and all [Bae] wanted was his dad. So that’s a wound that’s very deep. I still think he might want to see, given a long enough timeline and the right amount of effort, another point of view. I think the wounds can begin to be healed.
Obviously, Neal’s name is spelled differently (it’s Cassidy instead of Cassady), but Jack Kerouac isn’t visiting Storybrooke, is he?
[Laughing] I was going to say, we’re going to do fairytales “On the Road.” The first meeting I had with them about doing the show, I told them if Neal Cassidy was the name I was using I was so stoked, because Jack Kerouac was one of the people who moved the furniture around in my brain. He’s always been an incredible inspiration as an artist. But even though I think there are some parallels, but I don’t think we’ re going to do a crossover. We’re not going to get a visit from Sal Paradise.
You can’t tell us much, but can you give us a hint of what to expect in the finale?
I think Neal is gonna begin to sort of say, gosh, what do I do now? There’s a lot coming up that’s going to answer a lot of questions, but create new questions, too. We’re gonna get to see where we go from here, after what happens in the finale.
Have you seen the Tumblr page devoted to you? It’s called F— Yeah, Michael Raymond-James.
No, I haven’t. That’s fantastic. I’m not sure if I want to see it, because people can be incredibly brutal on the Internet.
I think it’s safe to say this site is very, very loving.
Okay, that’s cool!