'Once Upon' Star Teases August's Identity
I have been obsessed with Eion Bailey since he introduced Xander to the wild ways of hyena people on a 1997 episode of Buffy The Vampire Slayer. Since then, he's fought for "freedom" alongside Brad Pitt in Fight Club, stormed the beaches in Band of Brothers and dished out fruit tarts in Center Stage.
Currently he's playing August, hottie with a million secrets, on ABC's Once Upon A Time, which is really hitting its stride as it races toward the end of season one -- a destination that Eion's character plays a massive role in. Over the next two weeks, we'll come to learn a lot about August, so I caught up with Eion to get his take on the character while also finding a totally natural segue to talk about Center Stage.
Insider.com: Once Upon A Time is a very mysterious show, on which you play the most mysterious character to date -- how much about the role did you know coming in?
Eion Bailey: Nothing. [laughs] The audition material was from Bonnie & Clyde. I read a couple scenes from that, so I knew what tone they were going for based off that. But that's all I had to go on.
Insider: Does that make Emma the Bonnie to August's Clyde?
Eion: I think it had to do more with the tone – Bonnie and Clyde had a witty repartee in their conversations. There was a constant one-upsmanship to their relationship while being completely sexually attracted to each other. There's real affection there while they jab each other simultaneously, so that's how I see it playing into August's relationship with Emma.
Insider: Once you got the role, did you see behind the curtain or were you still kept in the dark?
Eion: I think I'm the only actor who didn't know which fairytale character they were from the get go. I was under a different impression in the beginning. I saw a clue in a script, I can't say what it was because that will give it away, but it was totally different from what I thought. So I emailed the writers asking if it was a mistake and they said, "Ah! We've been dying to tell you who August really is! Sorry we had to keep it secret for so long." That's when I realized they'd been planning who August actually is for quite some time. There's a clue very early on in one of his first scenes that points in the direction of what they had in mind. Even though they didn't let me in on the secret until later, it's clear they knew very early on.
Insider: What did you think when you finally found out?
Eion: When they told me who my character in the fairytale world is, it made the hair on the back of my neck stand up. I keep telling the writers what an honor it is to play this character because the central theme of this iconic character is something everyone deals with on a daily basis. I get to embody the internal struggle this character is famous for and expressing something everyone experiences is the ultimate gift for an actor. It's a joy.
Insider: You've been a part of countless television shows, but this is the first time you're working on a show that have fans who obsess over every single detail. Does that enrich the experience for you?
Eion: I love it. There's an impression that people who watch television – the "average viewing audience" – are talking during a show, or getting a beer or talking or texting. People think what's on the screen isn't making an impression beyond "Oh, he's hot." And I'm sure that's true for some, but it's so fun to be on a show that captivates and captures the interest of an audience that notices the tiniest detail. If you really care about acting, you care about detail. I try to make my work detailed – and knowing there's a large audience noticing that is the best because an actor needs an audience to complete the circle.
Insider: The next two weeks are huge episodes for August -- will fans feel satisfied when "all" is revealed?
Eion: I'm so excited for them to see it – there's been a lot of speculation. I think the writers know how to tease for just the right amount of time before they deliver. And these two episodes really deliver exactly what people are hoping for.
Insider: Do you think we'll see August more next season?
Eion: I think this is only the tip of the iceberg for the potential of this character. I would be very interested in bringing him back for season two and the writers have said as much to me, so I think there's a lot of good things coming for this character in the future.
Insider: I recently stumbled upon The Pack episode of Buffy, which featured a very young Eion...
Eion: It was my second acting job, ever.
Insider: When you think back on those experiences, do you remember details or was it all about sponging up as many acting lessons as possible?
Eion: A bit of both, I think [laughs]. I remember my first day on Fight Club. It was a very call and I met Brad Pitt for the first time. We were having a conversation and all I could think about was being so tired that I couldn't hold a proper conversation because I didn't sleep the night before -- I was so nervous about the first day of work on my first movie. So partly your memories are about being green and knowing there's this huge learning curve, but also you want to be professional at the same time. You have to walk the walk even if you're nervous or excited or tired [laughs].
Insider: Given just how many places you've popped up, what are you most recognized for?
Eion: There are a couple – Center Stage, Band of Brothers and Fight Club are the three people seem to have watched over and over.
Insider: I was hoping you'd bring up Center Stage. I talk about it a lot and have continued to find more and more people who share my affection for it. Has that film's endurance surprised you?
Eion: It has to a degree, but at the same time, I'm not surprised. The people who do come up to me about it, always say something, like, "I have seen Center Stage 75 times." [laughs] Which is just incredible. I think Center Stage had that perfect blend of kitsch and sweet sappyness, but also something really beautiful that connects it all. We made it before you could see amazing dance on television and it seems like a great dance movie comes out once a decade, but when it does, there's enough people who love dance that they're going to see it. I think it's a great movie.
Once Upon A Time airs Sundays at 8 p.m. on ABC.