Michael Coleman, well-known for his role as “Happy” on ABC’s hit series Once Upon a Time is more than meets the eye. The actor, writer and director is working on a myriad of exciting new projects, all of which his fans will be thrilled to hear about.
Michael was kind enough to chat with me about the cast dynamic, clears the air regarding his unfortunate Twitter snafu a while back with the fans, and even teases Sunday’s new episode. So without further adieu, let’s get to the good stuff!
MCKENZIE MORRELL: Will we see more backstory on your character “Happy” and what happened in the year of missing time?
MICHAEL COLEMAN: I think Adam [Horowitz], Eddy [Kitsis], Jane [Espenson] and the entire team responsible for generating the stories and direction of the show have a good handle on things. I would welcome the opportunity to get to know the dwarfs a little better but I am unfortunately not involved in that phase of development. I am always happy to see my good friend Lee Arenberg (Grumpy/Leroy/Dreamy) get screen time. All for one and one for all. (This catch phrase isn’t taken is it? I like it.) As far as the missing year is concerned — only Sunday nights will tell.
If the Seven Dwarfs were The Avengers, which one would you “Happy” be?
Probably a bizarre hybrid of The Hulk and Iron Man. I can be pretty sharp with my comebacks, and while it is always in fun, it can rub people the wrong way. I also feel a random connection to maintaining a pleasant demeanour to hide the rage inside. (Random Fact: I have played the Incredible Hulk twice in two separate parodies and have watched both in private screenings with Stan Lee in his office. He joked I was one of his favorite Hulks all-time. Super great guy! Random Fact 2: I also played one of the X-Men in an animated series. I was Sunpsot aka Roberto DeCosta)
ONCE has an extremely dynamic cast, can you describe each cast member in one word?
As this cast is so large I fear I would run out of words even if I gave each cast member just the one word.
Some of these guys have become some really great friends… Sean Maguire, Colin O’Donoghue, Josh Dallas, David Anders, Raphael Sbarge, Lee Arenberg, Jason Burkart, Gabe Khouth…to name but a few. This really is a wonderful group of individuals and I have cherished the kindness shared by each and everyone of them. I have incredibly lovely stories with each one I’ve worked with over the three years.
There’s been a lot of buzz around Zelena, the new witch in town, played by Rebecca Mader… Are you Team Evil or Team Wicked? Shhh, we won’t tell.
I love Rebecca [Mader] and Lana [Parrilla] so I am Team “Both.”
Have things died down since the whole Twitter #SwanQueen fan debacle? Are fans warming back up to you?
I learned a lot from this situation:
1) 140 characters is a dangerous amount of real estate to articulate any idea and as an actor on any show I need to be more aware of this in the future.
2) Twitter has created new blurred lines between “fan” and “show” and thus a greater responsibility than we’ve seen before. The accessibility to one another is both incredibly wonderful and equally dangerous and requires additional care when responding to anyone or tweeting about anything for that matter.
3) Those who know me, know I would never intentionally hurt anyone. Ever. I am sincerely sorry for the bad feelings any of my words caused and regardless of how things “went down” I own all of it and accept it is my responsibility to know better. The cast, crew, fans, shippers, all other alike are connected to a wonderful experience and it saddens me to know I hurt anyone. If I could call each Swan Queen and personally I would do so. As with any “text” conversation I am afraid tone, interpretation, etc. all factored in and unfortunately made things worse. It was never my intention to suggest I speak for anyone in the cast, and my attempts to calm a situation escalated things. Again, this is 100% my fault and for this I am truly sorry.
4) Random Fact: I nether knew what twitter was nor did I have an account when this show started. In this world I am literally a toddler and I hope I am allowed redemption by anyone I have hurt or offended.
Speaking of fans, do you have any fan events scheduled in the near future? I heard you were off to Disney soon!
I am at Omni Expo in Florida at the end of the month and I will be at Disney World the week before that with my family. The following week Orlando will host Lana Parilla, Sean Maguire, Lee Arenberg, Rebecca Mader and others. Lots of fairy tale happening in Florida this May.
Who is the biggest jokester on set?
We have LOTS! There are some incredibly funny and sweet people on this show. Josh Dallas, Lee Arenberg, Colin O’Donoghue, David Anders, many of the crew… myself… We like to laugh and have little time making one another do that very thing.
Do you share any similar qualities or personality traits with your character or any other characters on the show?
I smile a lot. I always have and always will. Even if the show decided they wanted to cast someone else in the role, they could only take away my upper case “H” as I have been “h”appy since birth and I will be happy until my final breath. My friends and family make this my reality every day.
If you could swap places with one person in the cast for a day, who would it be?
I wouldn’t. I love being Happy and hope the powers that be are equally excited about me in this role as i would love to do this for years to come.
If you could only describe Once Upon a Time to someone in one sentence, what would you say?
Imagine all of your favorite fairy tales in a re-invented mash up, written by your wicked awesome 14 year old version of yourself.
You direct as well, which do you prefer… acting or directing?
I love both. I am also a trained editor and writer. I have dedicated my life to telling stories. I am thrilled to play any part as this is a collaborative process, with each step having equally opportunity for artistic participation. We entertain and educate for a living. Being a story teller is amazing. I am blown away by the idea that EVERYONE doesn’t do this.
If you could guest star on any show, what would it be?
VERY good question. House of Cards? Walking Dead? Game of Thrones? Glee (season one – so I’d need a time machine)?
Do you have any hidden talents?
I can juggle fire and knives (learned in grade 4 believe it or not), I do a mean rendition of “Cups”, I play guitar and sing everyday and have for over 25 years, I can hang off a flag pole and do the “human flag” thing.
What other projects are you working on besides Once Upon A Time?
I recently shot a movie of the week with good friend Meghan Ory that will play soon. I have also written a feature film that will go to camera this Summer and it will star many of my sic-fi friends (from Battlestar Galactica, Stargate, Star Trek, etc.) in Judd Apatow-style comedy. (Random Fact: Judd Apatow and I share December 6th as out birthday). In addition to Once Upon a Time I work regularly on other live action series and animated shows. I also work steadily as a writer. In addition to the film this Summer I have two more feature films at various stages of development.
Is there anything you’d like to add for the fans?
Thanks for your passion for this show. Being a part of show that explores characters and stories I grew up watching is an absolute honor. Sharing this experience with you is what makes it all possible. I sincerely appreciate every cast, crew, fan… everyone who has made this possible and hope we do this for 20 more years.
Your love and commitment for this show has literally and legally made me Happy. For this I am eternally grateful and hope I can return the favor.