ABC’s fairy tale drama Once Upon a Time has captivated audiences since its fantastical series premiere last fall. The show sees storybook favorites like Snow White, Little Red Riding Hood, and Hansel and Gretel trapped in the real world by the Evil Queen.
Raphael Sbarge plays Jiminy Cricket and his real world counterpart Archie Hopper on the series. The 48-year-old actor is no stranger to kid-friendly roles. He got his start on Sesame Street at just four-years-old. Since then, he’s gone on to appear in everything from Risky Business to Nip/Tuck.
Sbarge talked to Parade.com about portraying the iconic character Jiminy Cricket.
“My kids are 7 and 9, so there’s so much on television that I’ve done that they can’t watch," Sbarge tells Parade.com. "I’ve played killers, abusers, and cannibals in the past, but in this case, they can watch. But it’s also a little daunting. It is a huge honor to embrace the character of Jiminy Cricket. 'Let your conscience be your guide,' is a simple cornerstone. I didn’t want to mess it up. I wanted to make sure I could deliver. The episode about Jiminy was so wonderful because it was clever and heartfelt and heartbreaking at the same time. The writing on the show has been so remarkable. There’s an apparent smartness about each episode.”
On fairy tale vs. reality.
“The fairy tale sequences are so fun to do because of the costumes and the fantastical elements. I love period things. I’m an actor that came out of the theater. My mother was a Broadway costume designer, and I love all that stuff. From top to bottom, things are done so elegantly on the show. If I had to choose preference, I prefer fantasy land!”
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On his early beginnings on the iconic children’s show Sesame Street.
“I was four and it was the first year of Sesame Street. They were looking for kids to be on the show and I think my parents heard about the auditions through my school. I did a bunch of episodes and they offered me a contract to be on the show, but my mother didn’t want to be a stage mother because she was a very successful costume designer at the time. Years later, she said, ‘I thought if you were going to do this, you needed to do this on your own. You’ve got to make up your own mind.’ I ended up doing a bunch of plays after that experience and at 13, I decided to be an actor.”
On his favorite storyline — besides Jiminy, of course.
“I’m on the verge of becoming a Robert Carlyle groupie because I think he’s so remarkable. I just love working with him. There’s a take no prisoner quotient to what he does that’s just fantastic. I love what he does with Rumpelstiltskin.”
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On the draw of Once Upon a Time.
“Certainly in these times, where we’re all dealing with a fair amount of complexity, fantasy is the best way to touch base with reality. It helps you feel OK again about where things are. These stories stood the test of time and have a way of reminding you of values and ideas that reconnect you. I recognize how remarkable and unique this show is. It’s an incredible cast. I’m so grateful to be a part of all of this. I’ve really been cherishing every moment.”
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