‘Once Upon a Time’: Michael Raymond-James On Neal’s Emotional Journey and Hoping for ‘Happy Endings’ in the Season Finale

Once Upon a Time

This week’s all-new episode of Once Upon a Time was a whirlwind of dark flashbacks and shocking Stroybrooke twists. The biggest twist of the episode (maybe the entire year, actually) was when fans watched Neal reveal his true feelings to Emma and then get sucked into a vortex and banished to another unknown realm. When will our couples finally get their happy endings?! Well, Hollywood.com had the pleasure of chatting with Neal himself, actor Michael Raymond-James, about this week’s heart-wrenching episode. He revealed plenty of spell-binding details of Neal’s emotional journey and his hopes for the upcoming Season 2 finale. 

The star says that he has known about Bae’s rich Neverland and Captian Hook back story from the very beginning, and he was thrilled for fans to finally learn the truth. “My 10-year-old-self was just doing back flips because it’s just been a blast,” Raymond-James says, adding, “I knew initially what I was getting in to it’s all been by design.”

The actor says he was also intrigued to learn about fan reactions to Once Upon a Time creators Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz’s take on “The Shadow” and visiting the Darling house. “They’re just the best at being able to take something like ‘The Shadow’ or Rumpelstiltskin being the crocodile and make a cohesive story out of it, while also turning it sideways and looking at it from a different perspective. It’s is one of the most astounding things that I think there is. Seeing all of these fairytale that we grew up with with fresh eyes is so much fun.”

As for that super sweet bonding moment between Neal and Emma on the beach, James teases that Neal has been waiting to say those words for many many years. “We start to scratch the surface of some of the things that have been left unsaid,” he says, also noting that, “Staying with Emma was going to keep her from this destiny of breaking the curse and saving this town, which was populated with all these people that Neal knew from growing up.”

Raymond-James continues, “He sort of felt that it was important that he fall on the grenade of the greater good in order to protect that destiny — which isn’t to say that that comes without regret. Just knowing that he created a hole in her heart or a pain that she doesn’t deserve is a heavy cross for Neal to bear and that’s something that he’s never really been able to let go of.”

Now that Neal has discovered that Henry is his son, James says that he will do whatever it takes to be the absolute best father that he can — even if that means sacrificing himself into the portal to save Emma. “Neal has found something that he’s been seeking for a long time and now it’s just about becoming the father that he never had so Henry doesn’t have to know what that is like,” he explains. “I think that Neal would go to the ends of the earth to protect Henry and that’s the single-most motivating factor for everything that Neal does. He wants to be the kind of father that he never had.”

After slipping away into yet another unknown realm, Neal’s fate is left hanging in the balance and there’s only one thing to blame: magic. James explains, “I think Neal’s experiences with magic have left him with nothing but pain — he isn’t particularly fond of it.” With just one more episode left in this season and Neal’s life hanging in the balance, James says there is just one thing that he is hoping fans will get: “I’m rooting for happy endings.” We’re ready for some happily ever afters, too! 

Follow Leanne on Twitter @LeanneAguilera

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