‘Sleepy’/’Walter’, Faustino Di Bauda, Talks About Being a Dwarf Amongst Giants in Once Upon A Time
Faustino Di Bauda is an Italian/Canadian world-traveling-wrestler/stonemason-turned-dwarf and now an actor/yogi. He considers himself to be very fortunate man.
The Italian World-Traveling-Wrestler was born in Turin, Italy, second of five children. “I came to Canada at a very young age. When I started school, I still spoke Italian so no one understood me and I was bullied. One of the ways to stop it was by fighting,” says Di Bauda, “So I fought back and later when I started to wrestle and got good at it, the bullying stopped.” He became good enough, in fact, to become an international referee in the sport which brought him to various events all around the world. “Between refereeing and my own travels, I figure that I’ve been to over thirty countries, including Brazil, Cuba and Iran, to name a few.”
The stonemason-turned-dwarf became a case of ‘life imitating art’ when Di Bauda swapped his hammer and chisel in for a pick axe and morphed himself into one of the most famous small Miners in story-land.
Back in 2011, Di Bauda had been going out for commercials for two years and not landing a thing. “I guess I don’t have a ‘commercial look,'” he grins, “I’m not a pretty boy, you know what I mean? I’ve got these cauliflower ears and this busted nose.” A life as an actor became a reality for Di Bauda through his very first professional audition on a little pilot called Once Upon A Time. “I went into the audition not having a clue what to expect. At the time I was dedicating eight to twelve hours a day towards my craft. I was all in!” recalls Di Bauda. “The casting director called my name and told me ‘although this is Disney I don’t want you to play it like Disney, more like LOST‘. While I was thinking about it she looked at me and said ‘I think that you’re ready’ and I was. I did just this one line — ‘What is it?’ — a few different ways and then they asked me to wait in the hall. Twenty minutes later I’m called back in and asked to do it again and so I did. A week later I was called back to meet five other dwarfs, minus one (Lee Arenberg, who plays Grumpy) and I was the only Sleepy in the room. I went home and waited and about a week later got the call from my agent! That was one of the most exciting things that had happened to me in years!”
Di Bauda’s first day on set is one that he will never forget. “I arrive and they tell me that they’re taking me to my trailer. I think to myself, wait a minute, that’s my trailer? I’ve got a trailer!” grins Di Bauda. “That night I worked with Lee (Arenberg) and we did the scene where I fall asleep and the curse arrives. Then our first scene all together as dwarves was the wedding scene where Regina comes in fashionably late and makes her presence known. It was the first time we all saw one another as dwarves. It was pretty cool!”
Di Bauda says that it can take days for the dwarves prosthetics to stop showing up on their pillows and in their clothing. “Sometimes I get out of Sleepy mode and I see my real nose, and I think to myself, that’s a small nose. I actually kind of like my dwarf nose. The ears I can live with or without, but the nose I like!”
Di Bauda laughs and tells us that, “Mom’s 83 and watches Once, and always falls asleep at some point during the show.”
Memorable moments on set that Di Bauda recalls: “Once Upon A Time has been and continues to be a series of magical moments where nature blesses us with something unique. There was the time that it snowed in April during the pilot’s casket scene where Snow White is saved by her true love’s kiss. Then the magic appeared again when a deer showed up on set in season 3, strolling into the shot, not startled at all, just enjoying the experience. Those were magical moments.”
Meet Faustino Di Bauda in person at Regal Con May 8-10 in Anaheim, CA.