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Raphael Sbarge Talks TNT’s Murder in the First [Exclusive] 

Raphael Sbarge Talks TNT’s Murder in the First [Exclusive]


WARNING: Spoilers for Season 2 of TNT’s Murder in the First

You might know him best as Jiminy Cricket from ABC’s Once Upon a Time, but Raphael Sbarge has had a long career of acting, with roles in favorite films and guest appearances on several popular shows. Now, he stars as David Molk on TNT’s Murder in the First, which is about to air a second exciting season.

We got the chance to chat with Sbarge about his role on Murder in the First, how he first got into acting as a child, and some other upcoming projects.

Sbarge grew up in a theatrical family, and found himself with a role on Sesame Street at the age of four.

“I remember meeting Big Bird. I remember meeting Oscar the Grouch. I remember Mr. Hooper, who obviously isn’t on the show anymore, but he set me up on a donkey and we talked about the differences between donkeys and horses.”

Sbarge went on to explain why this experience had a profound influence on his career now, beginning with the fact that his mother wouldn’t allow him to do more than a few episodes of the show.

“I did several shows, and apparently I was offered a contract and they wanted me to do more,” Sbarge said. “And my mother was a very successful costume designer in New York City, and she said no, specifically because she didn’t want to make a decision on her own. She felt like it should be my decision if I wanted to do it.”

Sbarge then went on to perform in various plays throughout his childhood, and finally did make a decision on his own.

“At the ripe old age of about 12, I decided to be an actor,” Sbarge told us. “We moved back to New York, and I basically did it on my own. So what I did was, I called an actress friend, and I said how do you do this? And she said, well, here’s my agent’s phone number. Give him a call. And so I called him. I was a very precocious 13-year-old at that point.”

Now that Sbarge is a father himself, he says he’s grateful to be able to continue to work.

“One of the difficult things for actors, in general, is that as you age – can you continue to work? Because obviously there’s no getting around the fact that your appearance does matter.”

Sbarge talked about his role on Once Upon a Time, and how his character of Jiminy Cricket hasn’t been as prominent in more recent seasons.

“I feel like they’re sort of transitioning away from writing me much in the show, because there are so many other characters. But also now, of course, I’ve got this other show [Murder in the First]. I love being on Once Upon a Time. It’s a magical show. It’s got an astonishing fan base. And the Jiminy Cricket character seems to be a huge fan favorite. People seem to really respond to that character very emotionally when I meet them. More so than another character, because he represents conscience and doing the right thing. There are some deeper meanings to him. I love that. I just love that. And I love the backstory they gave him in the first year. But they’re not writing much of the character these days, so there’s not much I can do about that. And I’m obviously a little bit preoccupied now with the other show.”

Photo Credit: Doug Hyun/TNT
Photo Credit: Doug Hyun/TNT

If you haven’t seen the first season of Murder in the First, by the way, you should watch it soon. As Sbarge points out, this is a show that is presented for the way people watch television now, particularly with binge-watching. Murder in the First follows one case throughout a season, allowing fans to get wrapped up completely in the story. Season 1 was already remarkable, but Sbarge gave us a few hints about what to expect from the second season, and it sounds like we have a lot to look forward to.

“I think what I can say about Season 2 is that it starts with a very disturbing and graphic set up for a story that’s going to take us into the season. It’s a school shooting. I’m a parent. So, it’s tough. And obviously very prevalent with everything that’s been going on. It’s very current and very… I would say we’ve sort of turned up the volume from last year. I’m excited about how this rolls out.”

Sbarge went on to talk about how much he enjoyed working on the show, and working with such a stellar cast as well as creator Stephen Bochco.

“There is a thing that you can’t buy or force as much as you might want to. And that is, at the end of the day, chemistry. It’s a remarkable thing…the chemistry between all of us on the set.” Sbarge told us that even from the pilot episode everyone, “just fell into place in a way that felt so right.”

Sbarge provided a couple of other Murder in the First hints. Expect to learn more about each character: “There’s a lot that comes out about all of us that’s quite interesting.” Plus there’s another story that develops in Season 2 that will “take us through a series of twists and turns.”

The actor said he loves his work and enjoys being a part of the show. He’s also keeping busy with several other projects, including an upcoming western film with Woody Harrelson and Liem Hemsworth titled, By Way of Helena.

On top of that, Sbarge is part of a genre project called Lantern City. It’s a steampunk project that will eventually become a television show. This week, though, it’s come out in comic book form through Boom! Studios. Sbarge is excited to be a character in the comic book, Kendal Kornick. “I couldn’t wait to tell my 10-year-old, hey, I’m in a comic book!”

Sbarge also talked about the Greenwish Foundation, something he’s incredibly passionate about. He founded the environmental nonprofit, which specifically helps local communities – and that’s where the money stays. “What we do is give people the resources to set up chapters in their cities, so they can actually identify local small nonprofits who really need the money.” For more information about Greenwish, or to set up a chapter in your community, visit their website at You can also listen to Sbarge talk about the foundation right here:

Catch Raphael Sbarge on the second season of TNT’s Murder in the First which premieres Monday, June 8 at 10/9c.

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  1. Lara

    That’s Mr. Hooper, not Mr. Cooper [talking about Sesame Street].

    1. Tina Charles

      You’re so right. Thanks for the heads up. Made the correction. 🙂

  2. Heather M

    Fun! So glad you got to chat with him. I’ll go ahead and out myself as a teenage girl from the 80s who just adored him — he worked all the time. 😀 I’m so happy he’s had a 30-year career.

  3. Sharon Alvis

    Mr. Sbarge’s character in Lantern City is Kendal Kornick, not Kendell Harnick.

    1. Heather M

      Thanks, Sharon! Fixed!

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