Interview: ‘Once Upon A Time”s Peter Pan – Robbie Kay

Have you ever wanted to talk to Peter Pan? More than a few people might want to chat with the J.M. Barrie creation, though they might hesitate to swap words with the version currently tearing up the joint on “Once Upon A Time” (Sun. at 8:00 p.m. on ABC). As Pan, Robbie Kay has gotten to take the iconic character to dark, dark places, and now he’s poised to take down Storybrooke and all of our beloved fairytale characters with a killer spell in this week’s midseason finale. I spoke to Kay about playing Pan, playing Henry, and why this week’s midseason finale should be “very iconic.” 

What has it been like diving into this layered character, who’s also a negative take on a children’s classic? It would seem to be overwhelming.

First of all, it’s certainly been overwhelming to delve into this character, because it’s diverging from the iconic character everyone’s used to. I knew fairly early on about his relationship with Rumplestiltskin, which was helpful. It certainly has been very interesting to see how this character developed.


As bad as Pan is, though, he can also be quite charming. 

Pan has very many layers and different sides, but he’s manipulative. He’ll manipulate whatever and whoever he can, like with Henry in episode 7, telling him he’s the savior of magic. It’s been a cool dynamic to see the core ensemble reacting to Pan, and seeing him interacting with that core ensemble. 


Of course, right now you’re not playing Pan — you’re Henry trapped in Pan’s body. Did you work with Jared Gilmore to capture any of his specific Henryisms?

That’s right; because of the body switch, I’m in Henry’s body due to Pan using his magic in episode nine, so that’s been interesting. There was no formal sit-down, though. We shot the episode very quickly, but we did try to play off each other’s mannerisms. The two characters have had a lot of interaction up to this point, so we’re familiar with one another. We’ve had time to play that.


Pan now seems to have changed focus, though. Casting a spell on Storybrooke just seems vindictive. 

Since he exhausted all paths to obtaining his heart, now he has new aims and new drives. He seems to be a very power hungry individual, so what he had in Neverland he’s trying to create in Storybrooke.


I realize you can’t give any hints about what’s coming up on Sunday night, but is there anything you can say about it? 

You never know what direction the show will go in, but it’s going to be a very iconic episode, and the climax of the arc everyone’s been interested to see. You’ll have to wait until March 9 to see the end result, however. 


Do you get recognized as Peter Pan? 

Every now and then, when I’m at a mall or out to dinner, it does occur. The show has a large following and a lot of people watch the show, so it’s nice to see that actually played out in real life. 

When you do get recognized, do people ever assume you must be a little evil? 

Some people become so immersed an a show they have an image that the actor is not too dissimilar, but fortunately I’ve never had that experience. And no one thinks I’m really Pan, luckily.


Do you read about yourself or the show online? I bet there’s a lot of commentary on what Pan’s up to. 

I am on Twitter frequently, which is a great way to get feedback when the show is airing and see what people are saying about the show. The fans use it as a medium to give feedback to all of us, and it’s a good way to see what they think.


We don’t know if Pan’s coming back, but either way, you have a break right now. Any plans? 

It is nice to have that break! I’m currently in school, so I graduate in May. Potentially, thre’s always room for college plans, but I’m taking a gap year, as I’ve decided I want to be embedded in my work. 


Most of the cast, with a few exceptions, have been with the show from the beginning. What was it like to come into that as the new kid? 

It was very interesting to come into a TV series that had such a close and connected cast. They shoot nine months out of the year in Vancouver, so they’re like a family. Although it was daunting coming into a new set, it was actually quite similar to changing schools, which I’m quite accustomed to, having done it quite a bit in my life. In this case, you’re in a professional workplace and they’re all very kind. 


Yes, but are they pranksters? Did you have any fun on the set?

I’ll tell you ever single day I’m on set, there’s never a dull moment. Sometimes you’re in the studios all day, but it’s never boring. There are so many great personalities on set, and everyone is in such a good mood… most of the time. On the whole it’s been a fantastic experience. 


As an actor, it just more fun to play the bad guy?

Pan is brilliant to play. There’s has a lot of layers to it. Althought he’s the antagonist, a lot of viewers on the show tend to like the antsgonist, so it’s been great to do. I’ve had a wonderful time.