'Once Upon a Time's' Patrick Fischler on the Author's "Layers," History With Cruella

Once Upon a Time S04E18 Still - H 2015
Jack Rowand/ABC

Once Upon a Time S04E18 Still - H 2015

Once Upon a Time has revealed its long-teased Author (Patrick Fischler) ... but that is only the beginning of the tale.

Although Regina (Lana Parrilla) — and Team Operation Mongoose — had been determined to find the author of the fairy-tale book in the hopes of securing a happy ending for the reformed villainess, it wasn't quite as simple as she had hoped. The "Author," as it turns out, wasn't a single person — instead, there were a host of people tasked with keeping tabs on the story, and this Author was simply the latest in the line of people who had taken on the job. Perhaps more alarmingly, once the Author was released from the book — his punishment for meddling with the narrative versus being merely a recorder of what happened — he promptly ran away.

With virtually everyone looking for the Author, he won't be able to hide for long. Fischler spoke with The Hollywood Reporter about joining the ABC series, the fan reaction to his role so far and which episode blew him away.

What can you tease about the Author's journey?

The race right now is who's going to get to him first. On Sunday, we will find more out about that. There are pictures out that have me talking with Bobby Carlyle [Rumple], so you do know he and I interact. Cruella (Victoria Smurfit) and the Author have a bit of a history. Her backstory is the following Sunday, and that is my favorite episode I've done on the show and one of my favorite episodes of TV I've ever done — and I've done a lot of TV!

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Did producers lay out the Author's backstory for you when you were cast? Or were you finding out all these different layers as you got each script?

I found out as we went. They didn't tell me a lot. Every week, I'd get a script and go, "Ohh, OK."

Looking at the Author's actions in the last episode, what do you feel his mindset was when he opted to run after being freed from the book?

He's been trapped in the book for a long time. He knows Snow (Ginnifer Goodwin) and Charming (Josh Dallas), but he doesn't know what they want with him. He's definitely someone who wants what's best for himself, like a lot of us do, so he wants to see what's out there. In that moment, he popped out of there, and the best thing is to get out of there and figure out, "How am I going to handle this?" As opposed to, "What are we going to do next with whomever these people are?" He doesn't know exactly who they are, so he has to get out of there and figure it out himself.

We know the Author was put in the book for causing a bit of trouble and creating his own narrative. In what you've filmed, do you know his reasoning for doing that? Or are you still waiting to find out that particular detail?

We learn more about his backstory and his reasons for finding out why he does what he does. We will learn a great deal more about the Author.

So much of this show has been about the shades in the "good" and "bad" characters we know. Do you feel the Author leans more toward the good end of the spectrum or the bad side?

I will say this: I've played lots of characters that, to anyone watching, they'd say, "Oh, that guy's such an ass, that guy's such a jerk." I never look at it that way. Even the worst of people come from a place of hurt; there's always a reason someone's acting that way. For me as an actor, to get into a character, I have to find that. Whether it's someone who's incredibly kind or a pain in the ass, there's always something there you have to find that's likable. [The Author] has a lot of layers.

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Anything else you can preview about the Author's arc?

The Cruella episode is fantastic. And really, from that episode on, all of the episodes are so great for so many of the characters. The fans are going to be really excited about where this season goes.

Once Upon a Time airs Sundays at 8 p.m. on ABC.

Twitter: @marisaroffman