January 19, 2013

Raphael Sbarge Interview

Today I’m joined by actor Raphael Sbarge, star of Once Upon a Time. Thanks for joining us.

EOIN: Once Upon a Time has become a huge hit; when you first signed on for it, did you think it would become as popular as this?

RAPHAEL: Well, let’s say, I was certainly hopeful!  It was great on the page.  But, honestly, it seemed too ambitious.  I wasn’t convinced that they— or ANYONE— could pull it off.  With these iconic characters, huge special effects, and the demand to create not just one, but TWO distinct worlds.  This was not a small task.  That said, when we finally got to see it, not only did they meet our expectation, but they blew past it.  We were all knocked out after the screening of it, amazed that they got everyone to lean in and care about the characters, but also left you wanting more. Much more.  

raphael-sbarge-648x376-600x350EOIN: You play Jiminy Cricket/Archie in the show; what can you tell us about his character arc in this season?

RAPHAEL: He has been, both as a “cricket” and a counselor, a conscience for many other characters on the show,  as well, a place to come for advice and guidance, for most of the other main characters.  He has been Henry’s advocate (the young boy, involved in a custody battle between his adopted mother and birth mother), and generally, the person most trusted in the town of Storybrooke.  Some have said that Archie is the “conscience of the show.”  He certainly is one of the more caring individuals in town.   Well, let me say that I believe still waters run deep.  That he does his work, because he cares, and truly wants to do the right thing.  He seems to have “done wrong, so he can do right” and honestly, we are looking at some new chapters yet to be explored for Archie.  Such as, his love relationships, some of his personal life.  And his decision to stay in Storybrooke to fight, to try to make a difference.  Stay tuned!

I do love Archie.  And I have felt in some ways very close to him.  I am a dad (in real life), and certainly have drawn on my relationship with my son to inform the relationship with Henry.  As well, I loved that they gave him a “difficult past” to inform his “conscience.”  In other words, he wasn’t just “wise” because he said so, but rather, he came through a rather tough personal story, that created a sort of “wounded healer.”   I liked that.  Gave him some personal depth, and didn’t make him a know-it-all.  For all intents and purposes:  We all have our personal stories, but let’s just say that I resonate with this, having had a few bumps along the way.












EOIN: One of the great things about the show is that it has elements that appeal to people of all ages; is that what drew you to the script originally?

RAPHAEL: I didn’t know that it would appeal to people of all ages when I first read it.  I just knew I loved it.  I also thought my kids (7 and 9) would love it.  What I have discovered is that my mother loves it (she’s 83), men and women in their 40’s love it, and 30’s and 20’s…. It seems to have a 8-80 demographic.  THAT is absolutely amazing.  It also has a huge international presence.  As we know, not all American entertainment “travels well.”  This one does  and we get tweets from all over the world.  Clearly these iconic characters, and fairy tales in general, capture everyone’s imagination.

EOIN: Obviously I don’t want you to spoil anything, but do you know how the series will eventually end or is the story kept secret from the cast?

RAPHAEL: Honestly, even if I did know— and the  future scripts for Once, seem to be locked in the same vault where they keep the Nuclear Launch Codes— I couldn’t tell you.  But, more to the point, my personal belief is that Eddie Kitsis, and Adam Horowitz ( the show’s creators) don’t know for sure either.  They are discovering these characters, bringing in a ton of NEW characters (this year), and have created a rich, wide canvas that I think can go almost anywhere.


EOIN:You’ve done voiceover work for the Mass Effect video games as the voice of Kaidan Alenko. I’ve heard doing voice work can sometimes be more challenging than performing in front of the camera as it really requires you to use even more of your imagination, especially with video games. Did you find it challenging at all?

RAPHAEL: I have been blessed with opportunities to work in some very popular Video Games, such as Mass Effect, and Knights of the Old Republic, among many others, and  I would say that it is a natural extension of my work in the theater: that is, using your voice alone to communicate emotion and feelings, but without the use of your face or body.  When you do voice work, you are invariably alone in a room with a microphone, and your imagination, so it can be quite challenging.  But, suffice to say, it’s incredibly satisfying when you get to work on games such as Mass Effect that challenges the actor to bring his A-Game, create intimacy, relationship and passion with  wonderful writing.

EOIN: You’ve done a lot of work in the theatre where the scenes take place chronologically, whereas movies tend to be shot in a non linear order. Do you have a preference? Is it easier to work chronologically?

RAPHAEL: I grew up in the theater:  My mother was a theatrical costume designer, my father was a playwrite when they first met at Yale.  I was raised  back stage in New York City, with the actors, and in costume shops, and found my community there.  So, becoming an actor was a logical step, it seems. This is where my family was.  I did my first play at 7, and continued working in the theater, as I still do today when I get the opportunity.  As to working in film and television, while I have a first love (the stage), I do love working on film, as well.  And, in order to make a living as an actor, it is very difficult to raise a family or exist solely on a “life in the theater.”  Film and TV are wonderful mediums to explore different kinds of characters, different kinds of ways of working, and certainly have a broader reach.  But, the stage is, and always will be, home.
All that said, my preference is both.  They both have their challenges, and benefits— I just feel blessed to be able to go back and forth between them.

06x04bEOIN: Speaking of linear narratives, you starred in several episodes of the hit show 24 with Kiefer Sutherland. Can you tell us what it was like to work on the show and what the key elements were that made it so consistently tense?

RAPHAEL: Ha!  Yes. That was a tense show, wasn’t it… I can’t imagine how Keifer was able to keep it going for 7 years as he did. The thing that made it work though, was the wonderful writing, and the very visceral (and personal) circumstances they created, despite it being a show about global crime, bad guys, and saving the world from Nuclear destruction… They kinda were really good at that thing called story telling, and were always able to make it believable.  Needless to say, the actors on the show were fantastic, and such a pleasure to work with.

EOIN: You’ve actually played many varied roles; is there a type of role that you could/would never play?

RAPHAEL: I am a character actor, and can do many things. I would never say no to something that was interesting, well written, and a challenge to play.  The joy of being a character actor is that we can show up anywhere…

EOIN: In your spare time you support Green Wish™, a non-profit you founded that helps local, green, organizations fund projects for their communities through donations online and at local retailers. Can you tell us how you first got involved with it and how can people support the cause?

RAPHAEL: I got drawn into wanting to make a difference as a result of being a father.  When my daughter was born, I was struck with how magical it is to suddenly be a dad, but as well how vulnerable I felt as a citizen of the world.  Whether it be global warming, declining bee populations, natural habitats being destroyed, extreme weather conditions… I could go on… There is so much need out there, and I became determined to try to make a difference any way I could.  I noticed that I  would become overwhelmed personally with all the dire information out there, and was looking for a way to make a difference to as many different organizations as possible.  Simply put: Green Wish is an non-profit that raises money for other non-profits with a Green/Sustainable agenda.   We locate a city that is interested, have them establish a local board, and then identify LOCAL groups that are doing good work right in their community.  

Ed Begley Jr. noted actor an environmentalist, is the face of Green Wish and on the board.
The idea is to find organizations that are local and doing good work within the community and get them much needed funds.   What happens is that a new chapter gets formed in an area  with a board, anchored by a group of concerned individuals.  They reach out into their community to identify organizations that are doing important work within their area, and then vet those non-profits.  

We ask that the groups range across a spectrum of Earth, Air, Water, and Sustainable Education.  They then work with retailers, business, or individuals who are interested in a “community helping community” message, and raise money, and awareness for the work being done right around them.  This is, effectively, an “open source” charitable giving concept.  New chapters work within our existing non-profit status, but then raise money locally to go into their local community.

We welcome the organizations to reach out to us.  As well, we are looking for concerned citizens who want to make a difference in their local community, who would be interested in forming their own Green Wish board, and working locally— in their area, to make an impact.  Bottom line: my feeling is that if people can have a sense of progress, right around them, and see the work that is getting done, right in their neighborhoods, it can counteract some of the apathy that gets generated from all the difficult news we are subject to, any given day of the week.  Please contact us at, or visit our web site

Raphael Sbarge-Russell Bear 1

EOIN: You’re also Executive Producing an internet series with Ed Begley, called On Begley Street, now in post production. What can you tell us about the project?

RAPHAEL: Out of the inspiration from Green Wish, I have developed and am now producing a show about the Begley’s new home— a LEED Platinum certified home that is being built in Studio City, California.  It’s called “Begley Street,” and captures the Begley’s adventure of building this new home, as well as explores the science, technology and innovation associated with new building, that has, frankly, exploded, of recent.  Make it Happen Productions is the production company with a “conscience” and a commitment to using media to promote this idea, and the producers have all agreed to donate a portion of the proceeds to Green  Wish.  We have plans to launch the new show both on the web (as an internet show), as well as now, excited to say, PBS.  They have given us strong support, and we feel this is a perfect place for us to do this show.

It seemed very important to film and capture the building of this families home, as an example of a new way of doing things.  LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.  It is an independent body that holds higher standards for building, and energy usage. There are different grades of LEED, Silver, Gold and then Platinum (that being the highest). The Begley’s are shooting for a Platinum LEED home.  Once complete, it will be a Net-Zero home, meaning it will be not be drawing energy to run the home, in fact, it will be creating energy and putting it back into the grid for others to use.  Our feeling is that if you cannot build your own LEED home, you might be inspired by some of their choices, and find that there are things you can do yourself.  Our homes are the single largest consumers of energy, and as we make better, more efficient choices, exponentially, it can add up to making a big difference.

Please look for “Begley Street” at “” and follow me on twitter @raphaelSbarge, or Facebook for updates on the coming release dates.

EOIN: Thanks very much for sharing your thoughts with the Action Elite and all the very best with your career.

RAPHAEL: Thank you so much.  I really appreciate your questions, and wish you the very best, as well!


Profile Picture Courtesy of Russell Baer

About the Author

Eoin Friel
Eoin Friel

I grew up watching JCVD, Sly and Arnold destroy bad guys, blow things up and spew one-liners like it’s a fashion statement. Action is everything I go to the movies for and the reason I came up with this site is to share my love for the genre with everyone.



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