One of the great features of WonderCon, or any pop culture convention for that matter, is the opportunity to meet celebrities and icons. While browsing Autograph Alley at WonderCon 2013, I happened upon Raphael Sbarge, the actor who plays Jiminy Cricket on ABC’s Once Upon a Time. He was meeting with his fans and signing autographs. After introducing myself, Mr. Sbarge very graciously offered me an interview. Well, how could I refuse!
MiceChat: You have an extensive resume. What are some of the favorite roles you have played throughout your career?
Mr. Sbarge: Gosh, it’s so hard to pick a favorite – it’s kind of like being asked to pick your favorite kid! Of course, there’s Archie and Jiminy from Once Upon a Time. He is a wonderfully rich character, full of dimension. It’s been such a gift to explore his journey in the episode devoted to his back story, “That Still Small Voice,” last season, and particularly gratifying to hear how much fans of the show care about Jiminy. But I’ve been blessed with so many opportunities to capture so many different roles—from killers to lawyers, to military men in the 22nd century (in Mass Effect, for example). I have been so fortunate to have a long career as an actor (now 40+ years or so), and I’m always just so thankful for wonderful writing, rich characters and the opportunity to work with other actors and directors, such as we have on Once Upon A Time.
MiceChat: In regards to “Once Upon a Time,” were you intimidated to tackle such an iconic character?
Mr. Sbarge: Of course! When I first got the role, I did research on “Jiminy Cricket”—needless to say, he’s definitely big shoes to fill… How could you not be intimidated, not just because of his long history as a Disney character, but also because people have such a strong emotional connection to the character who defines the phrase, “Let your conscience be your guide.” But then, once we started the show and I was able to explore this version of the character, and they opened up the details of Jiminy’s back story (that they artfully crafted and invented), we got to see how he came into his own, and it became more about giving him his own voice while staying true to Jiminy Cricket’s legacy. It’s certainly an honor to be a part of his story, the Jiminy legend, as it lives on now in this retelling via Once.
MiceChat: According to your IMDB profile, Jiminy Cricket/Archie Hopper is one of your longest recurring characters on a TV show. How do you approach this role – which is really almost three roles in one, given Archie before and after the curse was lifted as well as Jiminy — in comparison with previous roles?
Mr. Sbarge: Well, each character comes with its own challenges and his own story. With Archie and Jiminy, it’s been such a wonderful balancing act to go from the unsuspecting town therapist, to the grifter-turned-cricket in Fairy Tale Land, to the therapist who has regained his memories in Storybrooke. In each incarnation, however, there has been an underlying theme of a man trying to do the right thing, and stay true to his fundamental, core values. Keeping that in sight, I think, helps ground everything else about the characters.
Mr. Sbarge: You have to keep watching! What’s so great about Once Upon a Time is the creators, Eddie [Kitsis] and Adam [Horowitz], are fearless about exploring all the wonderful possibilities that fairy tales provide as a backdrop. You never quite know what each script will bring, and I think that’s what keeps us all coming back! Needless to say, I’m a fan too, and can’t wait to see where we go next!
I want to thank Mr. Sbarge for his graciousness and generosity of time. Your MiceChat viewers hope to see much more of you on Once Upon a Time. You are certainly a fan favorite.
To stay up to date on all of Mr. Sbarge’s projects, you can follow his Facebook at…www.facebook.com/officialraphaelsbarge
…and his twitter at…
And you can watch Once Upon a Time at 8 PM on Sundays on ABC.