With Once Upon A Time Season 2 a month away, and Season 1 now out on DVD – we’ve been thinking a lot about where everything left off in Storybrooke last May. We had the chance to sit down with the Evil Queen, Lana Parrilla, to chat about her work on Season 1 and a few details on Season 2!
Check out our full interview with One Upon A Time‘s Lana Parrilla below!
Did you research the mythology of the Evil Queen in the Snow White fairytales when you signed up for Once Upon A Time?
Lana Parrilla: I tried to do a ton of research into the character because I was very intrigued by the role. Thankfully, I found a huge book with a lot of notes on her and it was interesting to read so many different interpretations of her character. I shared the book with Robert Carlyle [who plays Rumplestiltskin/Mr. Gold in the show] and I think he learned a lot, too.
Is it tough to play such an iconic character?
Lana Parrilla: No, I wouldn’t say it’s been tough. Instead, it’s been a lot of fun. I did a lot of homework to ensure I didn’t play evil for the sake of playing evil. I wanted to understand why the Evil Queen is the way she is.
What did you discover about the Evil Queen during your research?
Lana Parrilla: I believe there is a deeper pain inside of her. It’s not like she’s thinking, ‘I want to destroy her so that I can be prettier.’ In fact, I don’t think about the vanity aspect of her character at all when I’m playing her. From the moment I took on the role I thought about things like, ‘What did Snow White do to the Queen? Why does she want to kill Snow White so badly?’
Are those two questions answered in Season One of the show?
Lana Parrilla: In the first four episodes of the show, you learn lots – but I don’t want to give away any spoilers to people who haven’t seen the show. It’s fun to be able to watch the show for yourself and uncover the various plot points.
Do you feel any pressure in playing such an iconic character?
Lana Parrilla: Perhaps not in the way that Ginnifer Goodwin feels when she plays Snow White in our show. It’s different for the Evil Queen. Her story has been broken down into so many different cultures and languages – and there are so many different stories about her. The story that I grew up reading was the one in which the Evil Queen asks the Huntsman to bring back Snow White’s heart, but there are many more versions than that.
What other interpretations of her story did you enjoy?
Lana Parrilla: I enjoyed a lot of different stories, but when I was researching the role I discovered a fascinating Spanish version. It described the Evil Queen as a character who would use an eye or a thumb as a bottle stopper. That was something incredibly sinister and new that I hadn’t heard about before.
The Evil Queen’s story has such a varied history. Do you get to play the character the way you want to play her?
Lana Parrilla: Early on, I spoke to [executive producers and show creators] Adam Horowitz and Eddie Kitsis about this. They told me they were trying to do something different with the fairytale characters, which was really interesting to me. It’s nice to have the history of these different renditions of Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs but, as I hope we’ve proved during Season One, we definitely have our own take on it.
Will that continue in the second season?
Lana Parrilla: I certainly hope we will stay open to that idea. We get to learn a lot about the characters in Season One, but I’m sure there’s much more to come. It’s fun to see so many more sides to these famous characters than anyone has ever seen before. I think it’s especially fascinating to see the conflicting vulnerability in all of these iconic villains.
Why do you think fairytales are so appealing to audiences around the world?
Lana Parrilla: These are the stories that everyone has read, with characters that everyone can relate to. There is a moral in every story, so you get a life lesson just by reading one. They have a timeless appeal. They are magical and enthralling. They are thrilling to read.
Why do you think there’s been a recent resurgence in the genre on television and in movies?
Lana Parrilla: If you look around, there is so much destruction and so many disasters in the world today. I think we all need to dream a little bit. There is hope out there and that’s what these fairytales are about. That’s why they were written for children: to dream, to fantasize, and to hope for something.
Has it been difficult to show the contrast between the Evil Queen and your other character in the show, Regina Mills?
Lana Parrilla: I like to think I’ve worked pretty hard at showing the contrast between the two characters. The Evil Queen is very powerful and she puts everything out there. She’s open in her quest, whereas Regina masks everything. They are very different, so it’s been an easy task to separate them.
Do you enjoy playing the villain?
Lana Parrilla: Yes, because the villains are always the most fun to play. They are the most challenging, but if you dig deeper you find the jewels in them.
Did you always dream about playing an iconic villain like the Evil Queen?
Lana Parrilla: As a child, I never wanted to be a princess. Instead, I always wanted to play a witch. I love the ocean and I loved The Little Mermaid, so Ursula was always my favorite character. I preferred to pretend to be a sea witch rather than anything else.
How easy is it for you to connect to the Evil Queen on a human level?
Lana Parrilla: Robert Carlyle plays Rumplestiltskin on the show and he has compared our portrayal of these evil characters to Robert De Niro in Taxi Driver. Remember when he speaks to the mirror and says, “Are you talkin’ to me?” He’s looking in the mirror and he’s by himself in monologue. You’ve got to be a smart actor and you’ve got to make some really bold choices to connect with the audience on such a human level like that. I hope we do something similar with our portrayals in the show.
Is it difficult to stop yourself from going over-the-top or campy with your portrayal of the Evil Queen?
Lana Parrilla: Whenever I’m playing a character, I’m always thinking about what motivates them and what they are feeling – but I know when to pull pack. When it comes to the villainous portrayal of the Evil Queen, it’s all about honesty. You have to focus on something that’s truthful about her and the acting follows through.
Do you think the script offers many campy lines for the Evil Queen?
Lana Parrilla: Our lines can be campy and over-the-top, but it’s our responsibility as actors to make some honest choices and keep the scenes believable. I feel that we’ve all managed to do that successfully in the cast, so it’s not a worry for us. To be honest, we look forward to receiving the scripts and discovering what fun things we have to say each week.
How much have you enjoyed working on the show in Season One?
Lana Parrilla: I’ve had a complete blast. I think any time an actor is handed a script where you get to play two roles is pretty awesome. It’s an incredibly fun show to work on and it’s great to work on a project where everyone in the team gets along so well. You know what? I can’t wait for Season Two.
Once Upon A Time: The Complete First Season is now available on DVD and Blu-ray!