The Iris Interview: Gil McKinney on the success of Once Upon a Time and entering the ‘Supernatural‘.


Ladies, who was your favourite Disney prince growing up? Were you an Aladdin lover? Did you grow up crushing on The Beast/Prince Adam (until you realised how odd it was when you were older)? Or maybe you were a traditionalist and prayed for your own Prince Charming. In 2011, when Once Upon a Time first screened on the US ABC network, it opened the door for the characters of these much loved stories to take on new and in some cases, incredibly different, lives. Now in its fourth season and currently enjoying a successful run on Australian television on Channel 7, Once Upon a Time has given the adult viewership an idea of what their favourite princesses would look like as ass-kicking live action figures and what dreamboats the live-action princes would look like. Gil McKinney became part of the Once Upon… family during its third season, which introduced his Prince Eric to audiences in the fusion of The Little Mermaid with the ongoing chaos of the wider show.


The American actor, pictured above with Joanna Garcia Swisher as Ariel, has enjoyed a fruitful 2014 off the back of his appearance within the show, though fans of these very genre specific shows will also recognise him as Henry Winchester, Sam and Dean’s grandfather, in the eighth season of Supernatural. The Friday Night Lights and ER alum comments on the year – almost – gone by, noting the opportunities shows like Once Upon… and Supernatural can now afford actors in television.

“It has been a really interesting year,” McKinney enthuses. “Very fun and exciting and unexpected! I think every year, around this time towards the holidays, I look back at the year and reflect on it – this has definitely been a really great one, mainly for getting to work on shows like Supernatural and Once Upon a Time and other things that have come from working on those shows. It’s been a lot of fun.”

“At this point, I think I’d say that I feel lucky and that I stumbled into some really good opportunities.” he laughs. “I will say that some of these jobs on shows like Supernatural and Once Upon a Time…I think that having worked on those genre type TV shows, I think that hopefully it’ll lead to more within that world. It’s definitely been a lot of fun, I would love to be able to work on one of these comic book shows like Flash or Arrow or something like that as well. I think that’d be a lot of fun. Once you start working on those shows, that door opens up and hopefully more will come.”

Considering how popular both franchises have continued to be in Australia, it’s going to come as no surprise that McKinney’s presence in representing for both, will no undoubtedly be a popular drawcard for fans set to attend the Supanova Pop Culture Expo when it stops by Adelaide and Brisbane over this weekend and next. McKinney walks me through his audition process for Once Upon a Time and how the show and the fan base has embraced him since.

“Funnily enough,” he says. “When I read for that show and auditioned, they didn’t tell me it was Prince Eric. They didn’t tell anybody it was Prince Eric because they wanted to keep it a secret. The audition material I had if I remember correctly, was scenes from the episode with Ariel, but they had changed the names of the characters, so it was a different prince with a character who wasn’t Ariel, it was something else. I went into it just thinking it was a prince, I didn’t know what it was. I just did my thing as a prince on Once Upon a Time and then I found out that I had gotten the part and I was like, ‘Great I’m going to be a prince on Once Upon a Time‘! It actually wasn’t until I was on the internet a couple of days after I’d found out that I got the part, there was this spoiler I came across on the internet and it basically said, ‘Gil McKinney has been cast as Prince Eric on Once Upon a Time‘. That’s how I found out it was Prince Eric, nobody told me before! At that point, I was very, very excited. It makes it really special and fun when the show is actually fun to work on and the cast and crew are great and the fans are great.”

Looking ahead to the end of 2014 and the beginning of next year, McKinney is anticipating a large one. With these Australian appearances and his upcoming nuptials set to see him through the final months of the year, he’s relaxed about what 2015 holds, but is excited for the work prospects that lie ahead.

“I wish I had something to tease or announce,” he laughs. “I actually don’t have anything right now! I don’t have anything right now other than getting to do these wonderful shows and conventions and meeting fans! I’m very hopeful that Supernatural is going to continue at some point, hopefully this season, but as of now, I don’t know. I don’t know about Once Upon a Time either, they tell us very little! I’m hopeful that I can go back on one or both of those shows at some point, but for me right now, I’m getting married soon, so I’m celebrating that! I’m also getting to travel to wonderful places like Australia, so that’s my focus for the rest of the year.”

“Once Upon a Time is pretty big down there and I assume Supernatural is, because it seems to be pretty popular in a lot of places around the world! I hear that ER is pretty popular down there too, it’s not really talked about much in the States any more, so if I get can field any questions about ER, I’ll be very excited.”

You can meet, greet and pose all your medical drama-related questions to Gil at the Supanova Pop Culture Expo in Adelaide this weekend (November 21-23) and in Brisbane on November 28-30. Visit for more information!


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