Meeting the Conscience of 'Once Upon a Time': An Interview with Raphael Sbarge
Meeting the Conscience of 'Once Upon a Time': An Interview with Raphael Sbarge
Laurel Brown
Laurel Brown
Senior Writer, BuddyTV

Viewers of Once Upon a Time have been surprised by many familiar fairy-tale characters popping up on the show. Among them is Jiminy Cricket -- the conscience-providing insect from Pinocchio. Played in his "real world" and human form by Raphael Sbarge, Archie (as the Cricket is known in Maine) has transitioned to a job as a therapist.

While the first few episodes gave us only a glimpse at Jiminy/Archie in action, the upcoming "That Still Small Voice" (airing on Sunday, November 27) will delve deeper into the character. In order to make his Archie and Jiminy Cricket characters even clearer to audiences, Raphael Sbarge recently spoke to BuddyTV.

The action in ""That Still Small Voice" centers around a sinkhole that opens up on the edge of Storybrook, possibly in response to Sheriff Graham deputizing Emma. Young Henry, of course, has to investigate. And this time he takes Archie with him. The opportunity provides Once Upon a Time a good look into who Archie -- and Jiminy Cricket -- really is. "We get a way to tell the story of a young Jiminy Cricket and how Jiminy Cricket came to be," says Sbarge. "As opposed to making Jiminy Cricket a 'good guy just because we say so,' we actually get to see how Jiminy really struggles with his family."

The back-story and the sinkhole journey should give us a much clearer view of what makes the character tick. "It's sort of a wonderful, painful, and I found -- when I first read it -- a very moving story of a man trying to find his way," explains Raphael Sbarge. "As a therapist in Stonybrook, [we see] how he comes to really support Henry and help him on his journey."

Archie is not exactly the Jiminy Cricket we might know from the Disney movie (or from the 19th-century Italian story, for those who are literarily-inclined). "Jiminy Cricket is obviously defined by, 'Let your conscience be your guide,' right?" Sbarge asks. "In the design of the show, they're trying to take these stories and these characters and reinvent them in a way -- in a modern way -- without making them seem treacly or too sweet."

And the modern interpretation of a conscience-providing cricket? Of course that would be a therapist. As Sbarge points out, "What a therapist does is sit with you in a one-on-one way and help you carve out a sense of what's right." Of course, Once Upon a Time's Archie still needs to work some of the right-and-wrong issues out for himself. "What's exciting about it is the way in which it introduces a good person, without him seeming too lily-white," explains the actor. "He comes by this the hard way."

When asked about playing this flawed healer of a character, Raphael Sbarge is sincerely enthustiastic. "From an actor's point of view, to be able to tell stories or reinvent stories and to breathe new life into characters and stories we've known for so long... Holy smokes! Holy smokes, it's a dream experience!"

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"That Still Small Voice" airs on Sunday, November 27 at 8pm on ABC.

(Image courtesy of ABC)