Henry Ian Cusick, Carl Valentine, Colin O’Donoghue

'It's a great club:' Once Upon a Time and Lost stars talk 'Caps, Vancouver, and more

VANCOUVER, BC – While he was busy seeking revenge on Rumpelstiltskin and falling in love with Emma Swan, maybe Captain Hook found some time for footy, too.

OK, maybe not.  

But Colin O’Donoghue, who plays Captain Hook in the popular TV series Once Upon a Time, has been an avid soccer supporter his whole life. And on Saturday afternoon at BC Place, the Irishman will be trading in his hook for a pair of cleats as he takes to the pitch for Vancouver Whitecaps FC’s Legends & Stars charity alumni match, in support of BC Children’s Hospital, alongside a number of 'Caps alumni and fellow actors. 

“Well, I have season tickets to the Whitecaps,” O’Donoghue told whitecapsfc.com. “When Michael Coleman (who plays Happy in Once Upon a Time) told me he was thinking about arranging it, I was like ‘Yup, count me in.’ And I love football. I’m not very good, but I love it and it’ll be good fun.”

O’Donoghue said he’s been playing soccer for as long as he can remember. Never in a game like this, though, and he just broke his foot about five months ago.

Still, he didn’t have to think twice about this opportunity

“I’m not sure how well I’m going to do but it’s for a good cause,” O’Donoghue said. “I’ve got kids and they went to BC Women’s and Children’s so I think it’s the right thing to do.”

O’Donoghue, a supporter of Manchester United, moved to Vancouver about five years ago for the filming of Once Upon a Time – the show’s main set is based out of Steveston. That’s when he started to take an interest in Vancouver Whitecaps FC.

And he liked what he saw.

“I just missed football and when I heard that there was a professional team over here, I was like, ‘Yeah I’ll have to get tickets to it,’” said O’Donoghue, who referred to Alphonso Davies as a “real find” when asked if he has a favourite ‘Caps player. “The atmosphere is great, the way the players interact with the fans after the game and stuff like that is fantastic. I think it’s a great club.”

He’s quite fond of the city, too.

“I love Vancouver,” O’Donoghue said. “I think if I’m going to be anywhere except for Ireland, I’m happy to be here. It’s a beautiful city … I mean, I’m from Ireland so Ireland is always going to be home. But we’ve been here for five years so it’s as much home as anywhere now.”

O’Donoghue is one of a number of actors currently filming TV series in Vancouver who will be taking part in Saturday’s match. The whole event came together after a conversation between Michael Coleman (Happy/Once Upon a Time), Whitecaps FC president Bob Lenarduzzi, and Whitecaps FC club ambassador Carl Valentine, who attended a mutual event on Father’s Day.

“When I was a kid, they came to my elementary school and I got to kick a ball around with the fellows,” Coleman said. “So I told them how much that meant to me.”

And it spurred on from there.

“Some of the actors that are going to be here actually had their kids born at [BC Children’s Hospital],” Coleman added. “I myself lived there as a small child. It was a really easy event to get everybody associated with. And the Whitecaps are sort of the cool event to do in town.”

There has been overwhelming interest in the event thus far.

In addition to O’Donoghue, some of the actors who will be taking part include Robert Carlyle (Rumpelstiltskin/Once Upon a Time, Begbie/Trainspotting, Gaz/The Full Monty), KJ Apa (Archie Andrews/Riverdale), Ray Winstone (Mr. French/The Departed, Gal/Sexy Beast, Mac/Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull), and Henry Ian Cusick (Marcus/The 100, Desmond/Lost).

“It’s to support BC Children’s Hospital, which is a great cause,” said Cusick when asked why he wanted to be involved. “I’m a big soccer fan. I play soccer. This has always been something I’ve wanted to do, one of these charity matches. You give me a ball, I’ll chase it.”

Like O’Donoghue, Cusick has been a footy fan his whole life.

Growing up in Scotland, Cusick has always been a supporter of Dundee United FC, though he said he has a “soft spot” for Manchester United and his favourite player was Mark Hughes.

Cusick is best known for his role as Desmond in Lost, but most recently he’s been starring as Marcus Kane in The 100, which is also filmed in Vancouver. In fact, Cusick said he lives near BC Place and tries to follow Whitecaps FC on TV as best he can.

“I’ve never played in a stadium like that before,” said Cusick, who referred to himself as a “utility player” or a “safe” right back. “I’m very excited about that. Also, hopefully if I get playing time, with professional players, the speed is probably going to be fantastic.”

Cusick said he wasn’t quite sure who the best celebrity player will be on Saturday, though he gave his vote to O’Donoghue because he’s “young and Irish.” O’Donoghue, on the other hand, opted for his fellow Once Upon a Time cast member Robert Carlyle – also known as Rumpelstiltskin, his arch-nemesis in the show.

“I think he was pretty nifty back in the day so we’ll have to wait and see,” O’Donoghue said.

“I’m just looking forward to playing in BC Place and having a laugh. As long as we can raise some money for the BC Women’s and Children’s Hospital, then that’s all that matters. We’ll just have a great day.”


  • The alumni match will take place on Saturday from 1:45 p.m. PT to 2:45 p.m. PT ahead of Vancouver’s Major League Soccer match against Columbus Crew SC, which kicks off at 4 p.m. PT. Fans can enter BC Place through Gate A beginning at 1:15 p.m. PT.
  • To purchase a ticket for the alumni match, fans must also have or purchase a ticket for the MLS match. No in-and-outs will be permitted between matches.
  • Tickets for the alumni match are on sale for $5, with all proceeds donated to BC Children’s Hospital.

TICKETS FOR ALUMNI MATCH AND MLS MATCH (alumni match add-on will appear after you select your seats for the MLS match): http://ow.ly/hYzb30eVOxr