Robert Carlyle turns 52 today, April 14, 2013. To celebrate, we're honoring his indispensable Once Upon a Time character, Rumplestiltskin/Mr. Gold. Fairytale Land's greatest mastermind is one of OUAT's best creations, in no small part thanks to Robert Carlyle's stunning work in the part.
Here are five of the reasons Rumplestiltskin is one of our favorite characters not just on OUAT, but on TV, period. Enjoy, dearies!
1. What a tangled web he weaves. As much as we love and sympathize with him — more on that later — we should never forget that Rumple is a villain. A great villain. He's one of the smartest chessmaster characters out there, deftly manipulating anyone and everyone to achieve his goals. Remember that time he tricked Emma into standing up to him in front of everyone, because that's the only way she could win the race for sheriff? Or that time the entire premise of the show was all part of his ploy to get back to Baelfire? Who thinks that many steps ahead? Rumple, that's who. We love it when he's bad, because he's so darned good at it.
2. From Manic Trickster to King of Cool. One of the best things about this character is he's a true two-in-one, embodying both the trickster villain as Rumplestiltskin and the smooth operator as Mr. Gold. He's perfection in both roles, which makes twice the bang for our character buck.
3. But oh, that pathos. As evil as he is, Rumple is at least as heartbreaking. From his humble beginnings as a coward who just wanted to live, through his genuine love for Belle, all the way to his confused attempts to reconnect with the son he lost, we can't help but feel for him. We root for his happiness even though we know he'll cheerfully turn around and screw over anyone not named Bae or Belle. Why? Because Robert Carlyle makes Rumple's love, fear, and pain as compelling as his intelligence and cold-hearted determination.
4. That laugh. It seems like a little thing, but that distinctive Rumplestiltskin laugh is one of those signature traits that helps turn a great character into an iconic one.
5. Seriously, though, how does Robert Carlyle even DO that? On one hand, it's not exactly news that Robert Carlyle is a fantastic actor. On the other hand, what he's achieved on OUAT is downright astonishing. He plays not just two variations of a character, but four or five — Rumplestiltskin the man, Rumplestiltskin the Dark One (who changes in vast ways over the hundreds of years he lives with the curse), Mr. Gold, and now, with magic back in Storybrooke, a hybrid version of them all. Each iteration is distinct from the others, but they all fit together in a cohesive whole, thanks to intelligent acting choice after intelligent acting choice. It's a masterclass in acting every week, and we wouldn't have it any other way.
What's your favorite thing about Rumplestiltskin? Share in the comments below!
Read more OUAT spoilers here.
Catch the next episode of Once Upon a Time on Sunday, April 21 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on ABC.
Rebecca Martin is an editor at Wetpaint Entertainment. Follow her on Twitter @BeccaDMartin.